The Internet of Things (IoT) is dramatically changing the way the construction industry operates. There are now numerous opportunities where companies can adopt IoT technology to support construction safety, efficiency, and sustainability almost to the point of making the impossible possible.
Currently, the potentiality of the IoT is becoming more operational with the rollout of technologies like 5G. The combination of IoT with this high-speed connectivity can help to lower latency and create a higher bandwidth, which can be a real advantage in construction.
As a result, the IoT is already changing the way operations are conducted in the construction industry, and experts predict that the IoT market share in construction will reach $16.8 billion by 2024.
In this article, we’ll discuss how the IoT is being adopted by the construction industry, and what the primary benefits of this are.
What are the Benefits of IoT for the Construction Industry?
IoT has helped construction companies address common workplace concerns, streamline workflows, improve responsiveness to changing market demands, and more.
Remember that the entire basis of the IoT is to create a common platform where multiple smart devices can interact with each other using a standard language which, in turn, can help generate crucial data. Companies can then make informed decisions on the basis of this data.
Here, we will discuss three major pillars of IoT implementation in the construction industry.
Anyone who has ever worked in construction knows that the end result always deviates from the original plan. As the whole industry is deadline and target driven, companies need to avoid backlogs to control budget increases.
IoT technology can improve productivity by ensuring more efficiency and readiness. It reduces the workload for people that not only eliminates human error occurrences but also gives management opportunities to work on generating new ideas to improve product delivery and customer satisfaction.
IoT also fits the supply unit with sensors that can determine the quantity and location. Additionally, it can generate digital forms to automate and optimize daily tasks ranging from scheduling, inspections, and workflows for deliveries.
Safety and Security
IoT can also help overcome two of the biggest challenges of construction: safety and theft.
It’s simply not humanly possible to monitor a large construction site at all times, and subsequently there is always the risk of theft or loss of equipment and material.
Companies can solve this problem by using IoT enabled tags that are equipped with sensors to notify the current location of the materials or equipment. In other words, there is no need for the physical presence of a human being for supervision.
Plus, the technology also creates a digital real-time job site map, updating it with potential risks as they arise. Notifications will be created for instances where a particular floor has poor air quality or when a worker gets too close to a piece of machinery.
That being said, there is also no doubt that IoT security still needs a revamp, which is why it will be necessary for one to take action to mitigate cybersecurity risks. You have to get serious about protecting your system and devices from these looming threats, which include malware and man-in-the-middle attacks.
One of the best strategies to mitigate these kinds of cybersecurity risks with IoT devices is to install a VPN (Virtual Private Network) on your internet router, which will protect every connected device by encrypting the data that passes between the device and the network. Specifically, be sure to use a VPN that supports unlimited devices, as this will enable you to secure the devices in literally multiple offices at the same time.
One of the largest expenditures for any construction company is power and fuel consumption. If these expenses aren’t managed actively, it can adversely impact the overall cost of the project.
IoT gives real-time information that lets the person-in-charge be aware of the latest status of every asset. From scheduling maintenance stops to turning off idle equipment – it enables an improved efficiency in the management and maintenance aspects.
It can also provide data that prevent problems from taking place, and notify the owners about decreasing stock, materials condition like expiry and damage, the suitability of environmental conditions like humidity and temperature, and so on.
In fact, different types of sensors, like fuel sensors and load sensors, are being used in various IoT applications to smoothen condition-based maintenance processes.
How is IoT Being Implemented in the Construction Industry?
A recent study by McKinsey Global Institute, which evaluated the impact IoT could potentially have on the construction and mining industry, found that company owners could save upwards of $160 billion just by adopting IoT tech.
Here are some of the major ways construction companies can use IoT devices to manage, track, control, and analyze data in more detail below.
Sensors have several applications for construction companies. Examples include supply, heat/humidity, fuel, and concrete curing sensors.
While supply sensors boost management efficiency by placing automatic orders in case of shortage and setting alarms, heat and humidity sensors can prolong the life of equipment operations.
Some construction elements and equipment have specific storage requirements. IoT devices can monitor metrics like humidity, temperature, and pressure to alert management about any potential change that could cause damage.
Companies should tag their materials to reduce occurrences of theft and misplacement. As construction sites are usually massive, these IoT-enabled tags can save time by making the construction material easier to locate and monitor.
Real-Time Site Maps
The construction industry has tragically contributed to 47% of all worker deaths in the United States. This situation has created a need for construction business owners to think of ways they could minimize accidents and keep their workers safe.
IoT has proven to be an excellent solution for this problem, because IoT devices can create real-time digital maps of construction sites highlighting danger zones, hazardous environments, the number of employees on-site, and work in progress using sensors and beacons. This, in turn, helps make construction sites more predictable, easier to control, and safer for workers.
Wearables are smart devices that are worn by workers that can track their stress levels, pulse, and so on.
A recent development in the construction industry is smart glasses. These glasses are enhanced with virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR), letting the wearer synchronize changes and instructions that can improve performance and productivity.
The IoT and the cloud have a complementary relationship, where the IoT generates data and the cloud provides an outlet for that data to travel or be stored. The cloud has strong appeal to the construction world because it greatly improves efficiency and security in an industry noted for its constant change of job site locations and workers.
The most popular cloud storage tools, such as Dropbox or Open Drive, also come with several security measures including AES and SSL encryption and ISO certification. These security measures are intended to ensure the security and safety of business and customer related data stored online.
Considering that the IoT (possibly enhanced by AI) can help reduce organizational maintenance costs by nearly 10%, construction companies should give thought to storing important data in organized pools via cloud storage services in order to make better data-driven decisions and ensure that their data remains properly protected.
The Future of IoT in Construction – Explained
The construction industry has traditionally been slow when it comes to adopting new technology, but IoT devices are steadily earning more recognition from owners. Even though the ongoing pandemic has caused an 18% drop in the net addition of IoT devices, there is still very good reason to believe that things will get better in the future.