Six Ways the Internet of Things (IoT) is Making Construction Sites Smarter

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Six Ways the Internet of Things (IoT) is Making Construction Sites Smarter

Sep 21, 2020

As technology has advanced in the construction industry, we’ve watched it migrate from the corporate office, to the project site trailer, to mobile devices on the job and now to embedded smart devices in the work.

Field staff are now able to have a level of visibility as to what is happening on jobsites previously not possible that can alert them to important events that otherwise may have gone unnoticed for extended periods of time that can cause damage, schedule delays and claims.

Here are six ways that IoT technology is improving construction sites right now.

1. Ensuring quality

As projects progress into the interior fit out phase of the work, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that atmospheric and material surface conditions are appropriate for the materials being installed. Previously jobsite-wide sensors were cost prohibitive to deploy and measurements were relegated to only one or two locations on a project.

Data was manually collected from devices, and exceeded thresholds were often not noticed until after the initial damage was done. Products are now available that inexpensively monitor atmospheric conditions and alert in real time when thresholds are exceeded.

In addition to monitoring the conditioning of the air there are also solutions to monitor the humidity and temperature of concrete floor slabs to ensure that the surface conditions meet the flooring manufacturer’s requirements.

2. Avoiding builder’s risk claims

The No. 1 cause, in both quantity and total aggregate, for builder’s risk claims is water-related events, commonly from the temporary water lines during construction. After experiencing a significant water event caused by an off-hours pump failure on a project, DAVIS researched solutions that could reduce the frequency and severity of such events in the future. By using commercially available, consumer-focused, automated water shut off valves, teams are now able to automatically shut off the water supply to a building on a scheduled basis during non-working hours.

During working hours when the supply is on, the water management system learns typical patterns of use, and when it sees abnormal flow characteristics, it automatically shuts off the supply. In the event water is needed outside of the standard schedule, the valve can be controlled remotely via a mobile app.

3. Monitoring structural movement

Building new structures in dense urban environments frequently requires that work be performed in close proximity to existing structures that may be impacted by construction activities. Automated deformation monitoring systems are now available, that once configured, can provide data 24/7. Measurement intervals that were previously specified in days, can now be set to minutes between cycles. When deformation thresholds determined by the engineer of record are exceeded, personnel are immediately alerted, and depending on the situation specifics, work can be stopped and remedial actions taken.

4. Keeping the noise down

Coordinating the installation of work on busy streets in congested urban environments can cause logistical challenges for activities that impact the public right of way. This leads to certain tasks being completed outside of normal working hours. But as more people choose not only to work, but also live downtown, performing this work without disrupting residential neighbors proves challenging. One component that DAVIS has recently implemented is the use of real-time noise monitoring systems that can notify an assigned team member when preset noise threshold levels are exceeded. Solutions now can not only alert that a threshold was exceeded, but just as importantly, capture a recording of the noise to allow for source identification and remedial action.

5. Tracking through wearable tech

Devices embedded into PPE are being used to address two of the biggest workforce problems facing our industry: safety and a shortage of skilled labor. Simple solutions include disposable, passive RFID-based “hardhat beacons” that track characteristics about each worker and their on-site location at any given time. These systems tie into a workforce database that tracks worker identity and characteristics such as what certifications and licenses they hold and previous safety violations.

More advanced tracking systems utilizing smart wearable devices have the ability to track worker position and alert in real time when predefined virtual boundaries are crossed, and have been especially useful for tracking purposes during the Covid-19 pandemic.

6. Keeping a constant eye

A simple YouTube search for “tower crane climb” will demonstrate how the industry is being targeted by thrill seekers who carelessly put their lives at risk in search of internet fame. Recently, DAVIS deployed wireless, internet-connected surveillance cameras monitoring all tower cranes as standard practice. When unauthorized access is identified, visual and audible alarms sound and appropriate personnel are automatically notified. This same technology can be positioned at other key areas around the site, such as entry gates, material storage areas, and stairwells.


Interested in learning more about the latest technologies we're employing at DAVIS? Check in with our in-house expert, Chris Scanlon!