The Internet of Things (IoT) has drastically changed the way humans use and interface with technology. It has resulted in people being connected with their everyday objects in ways never before imagined.
Walk into any average household in North America and one is likely to find a smart stove, fridge, watch, alarm clock, or TV. Not too long ago, this would have seemed more like science fiction than reality. What many casual observers of the IoT phenomenon may not fully appreciate is that the IoT is built off of the transfer of data. This transfer of data is an extremely powerful technology and has been used in a wide array of applications.
A key usage of these applications is the world of construction and construction design. Here we will look at just how the IoT is being implemented in construction.
Anyone who has been involved in the construction industry knows that the margins are often very thin and any downtime or delay in progress can result in a significant loss in profit. To combat this construction firms have been implementing IoT technology, called Telematics, with a great deal of success. Telematics can relay data about machine fuel consumption, engine idle hours, GPS location, productivity, and numerous other metrics that help management better, plan and organize.
In addition, this data can be used to analyze productivity and machine usage to improve project estimation and help schedule machine maintenance and repairs.
Telematic technology also comes in the form of small sensors placed on machinery and other equipment that detects vibration levels, engine performance, temperature fluctuations, and other key indicators. The data is used in such a way that it allows management to analyze when equipment or machinery is having issues or requires repairs.
Building Information Modeling
Most people are familiar with the black cables city officials run across roads to measure the amount of traffic a certain area receives or to measure the average speed of passing vehicles. This is an older form of technology that has analogous examples in the construction industry. For example, IoT technology can be used to detect foot traffic to determine when a certain area of a building may require maintenance or cleaning. It can also be used to monitor temperature, humidity, and other usages.
“By being able to closely monitor and analyze data like never before construction companies can use this data to improve future designs. Before IoT technology, it was not easy to determine exactly which areas receive the most traffic or which areas of the building are the hottest. This information can be incorporated into future designs.” writes Henry Good, a tech blogger at Writinity and Lastminutewriting.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is the growing field of architecture and building design that uses this information and incorporates it into a 3D building model. This type of program would not be possible without IoT technology and the information gathered from it.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
RFID technology has become very popular over the last few years, especially in regard to prefabricated building materials. RFID tags are placed in certain parts which allow them to be tracked in real-time to a very high level of accuracy. Workers searching to locate specific building supplies that may have been placed in the wrong spot or have not yet arrived is a major cause of wasted time in the construction tags.
“With RFID tags, management can see exactly where a particular material is on the job site, where it is in transit and where it is on the building,” writes Stanley Bishop, an IT expert at Draftbeyond and Researchpapersuk.
RFID technology is also being used to effectively keep track of inventory. All items within a defined radius will register with a database that can be accessed to assess current material or tool supply levels and determine future restocking needs.
With the use of RFID or smartwatch technology construction companies can see how many employees they have in a certain area performing a specific task. This will allow them to better analyze productivity as well as the marginal product of labor. This technology has been key in human resource management and has evolved tremendously over the last few years.
Power of the IoT
The use of the IoT can offer the construction industry a variety of benefits. As new developments in technology continue to transform the way we interact with computers, it will be exciting to see new potential impacts of IoT on construction and design.