In the age of “Internet of everything”, devices communicate, collect data, and offer new services. For the construction sector, this provides a phenomenal opportunity to make lasting changes to work methods and procedures.
Construction is an age-old heavy industry! As such, it displays a degree of inertia when it comes adopting new methods and technologies. In its annual survey on the sector, KPMG invites engineering and construction companies to move “from the stone age to the digital age”! At the heart of this transition, linked devices play a fundamental role. A quick peek at our daily lives reveals they are already full of devices conveying valuable data. Scooters are GPS positioned, light bulbs measure their energy consumption, watches accurately analyze our physiological data. Given this acceleration, and considering the concept of an Internet of Devices has already been replaced by one of “Everything Internet”, the construction world has still to re-imagine itself. Fortunately, applications are multiplying rapidly and promise radical change for engineering and construction companies in the areas of maintenance, safety, and productivity.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is communicating!
Gloves, vests, hard hats and boots are the essential companions of construction professionals. In recent years, they have gotten into linked systems that can alert users to possible dangers. Already widely used to detect potential gas leaks, a range of sensors can be found pretty much everywhere. Some boots are capable of identifying a man down and enabling rapid response at the fall site. Hard hats incorporate heat detectors, guidance systems, and physiological measuring devices to ensure the health and safety of workers. As for vests, these are now linked to devices to avoid collisions with workers!
Linked clothing used for productivity.
The use of “wearables”, and other linked accessories, is not limited to safety. In terms of productivity and access to information, progress has been amazing. 10,000 linked hard hats equipped with a small screen will be deployed as part of a smart city project in Kazakhstan. A way for workers to access data from sensors instantly. Linked glasses, promised for many years now, are also maturing. They enable on-site workers, for example, to lend their eyes to remote technicians to do inspections, quick diagnoses or even
manipulate BIM data directly from the construction site.
Linked devices mean remote piloting.
The symbolic “device” of the construction sector, construction equipment, is also being reimagined. Since 6.5 million pieces of linked machinery are expected to be sold between 2018 and 2025, the applications are multiple. While the development of 5G could mean major advancements in remote equipment operation, the most immediate uses relate to predictive maintenance, optimization of energy consumption, and even GPS positioning to prevent theft. Finally, aside from the adaptation of existing equipment, a whole new family of linked devices is now showing up on construction sites. Drones could mean significant advancement in 3D modeling as well as construction area surveillance and inspection.