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By: Holly Welles on February 28th, 2019

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How IoT Can Improve Productivity and Safety on the Construction Site

Construction Technology | Blog Posts

The Internet of Things (IoT) has incredible implications for the field of construction. It's already proven its value in health care, manufacturing, transportation, and other industries where automation and systems management are critical. With its many applications, it has the potential to improve productivity and safety on jobsites.

Project managers have a whole host of responsibilities that compete for their attention, and accounting for every last detail can prove challenging. It's difficult to coordinate personnel, equipment, and materials to bring a build to completion, and it's all too easy to make a mistake. Fortunately, IoT can help.

Increased interconnectivity between devices and systems can sync them to a central server for simplified monitoring. This kind of convenience allows supervisors to perform their tasks with confidence, aware of everything and anything that might cause issues.

With these benefits in mind, here are a few strategies for improving construction productivity and safety with the IoT:

Enhanced Machine Control

Machine control uses a variety of measurement technologies, such as LIDAR and GNSS, for improved precision. It allows for the automatic adjustment of machinery to grade, drill, pave, or pile large areas, most commonly found in civil construction projects. As the technology develops, it'll see greater adoption.

With the advantages of IoT, machine control can increase productivity by a significant margin. It has the capacity to improve precision, of course, but that's only part of its potential when paired with something as powerful as IoT. Connectivity can completely change the development process.

Beyond its basic functionality, machine control with IoT allows real-time reporting of the progress, movements, and status of equipment. Project managers can use this information to plan and coordinate other build activities, accelerating the pace of their projects while reducing delays and downtime.

Among other applications for IoT in construction, this is one of the most promising. As technology continues to advance and more companies implement machine control into their construction practices, project managers will find they have far less difficulty bringing a build to its final stages on schedule.

Refined Maintenance Methods

Preventive maintenance is preferable to reactive damage control. When handling heavy equipment, breakdown or failure could cause thousands of dollars in downtime, not to mention repairs. It's better to get ahead of issues and address them before they escalate, and IoT supports this kind of proactive approach.

Construction companies can equip their assets with IoT sensors that assist managers in optimizing the performance of their machinery. It helps them determine the status of equipment and take precautions if they discover any complications. As they attend to these small problems, they prevent much larger setbacks.

Since productivity is an area of improvement for many construction companies, it's clear why management would want to integrate systems that keep their crew on schedule. When they employ IoT for maintenance purposes, they'll improve efficiency and meet goals within a reasonable timeframe.

IoT can cut construction costs and delays through a series of sensors that track certain indicators. These indicators include excessive vibration, temperature fluctuations, and other diagnostic information maintenance workers can check on their smartphone, tablet, or computer. This information is easily accessible from most devices.

Improved Performance Tracking

High standards of safety in the construction industry are critical for success. They ensure the protection of workers, prevention of interruptions, and, in a broader context, operational excellence through all stages of a project. Project managers are well aware of the importance of proper protocol and precautions.

To assist them in their duties, project managers have specialized equipment that enhances safety on a jobsite. Smart wearables like SolePower work boots can detect workers' fatigue and falls, as well as alert them to approaching vehicles. Other wearables like the Smart Cap serve similar purposes by monitoring brainwaves.

When project managers take advantage of IoT, they're fostering an environment where the worker feels secure. Since 78% of construction firms have a hard time finding qualified professionals to hire, these changes may seem appealing to young people who wouldn't otherwise consider a career in the field.

In other words, improved health and performance tracking have secondary benefits for finding, hiring, and retaining workers. Beyond its applications in data management, regulatory compliance, and increased visibility with equipment assessment, IoT has remarkable value for the industry as a whole.

Today's Most Promising Solutions

The IoT has the ability to improve productivity and safety through the solutions listed above, but they represent only a fraction of its potential. While enhanced machine control, refined maintenance methods, and improved performance tracking are all promising, construction companies have access to other, no less impressive technologies. Industry professionals should research these technologies and review their options today.


Holly Welles is a freelance writer who covers construction and real estate innovations for publishers across the web, including NCCER and Constructible. She also runs her own residential real estate blog, The Estate Update.