These companies are embracing the Internet of Things and creating the best construction technology on the market.
For businesses, one of the central benefits of the IoT is the ability to gather meaningful and actionable intelligence to foster growth. The availability of these critical insights will enable construction firms to refine their estimating capabilities, increase supply chain visibility, manage risk, and keep costs under control. Given the sector’s slow growth over the past years, these refinements are a necessity.
Realistically, construction firms face significant obstacles in creating the secure, connected environments required to maximize investments in the IoT. Construction companies are not natural homes for IT departments; McKinsey estimates that IT accounts for less than one percent of revenues for construction, despite emerging software solutions that have the potential to boost performance and sweeten bottom lines.
So what’s the key to making the IoT work for construction firms? Interoperability.
“Interoperability between IoT systems is critically important to capturing maximum value; on average, interoperability is required for 40 percent of potential value across IoT applications and by nearly 60 percent in some settings,” according to McKinsey.
For construction technology, ensuring basic jobsite connectivity remains a challenge to be met. Enter power tool pioneer DEWALT, who will be debuting a fully connected jobsite system with a Wi-Fi mesh network and IoT platform later this year.
The power tool subsidiary of Stanley/Black and Decker entered the construction technology arena last year with a line of Bluetooth-enabled rechargeable batteries. The units collect and communicate useful data such as battery life, temperature control, and location, and can be programmed to shut down when taken out of range to help discourage theft.
The company’s Tool Connect™ inventory management app, also released in 2017 for both Android and iOS, allows managers to connect, customize, track, and diagnose tools across multiple sites in real time, increasing efficiency while reducing the expense associated with lost or stolen equipment.
Tags are available to enable the efficient tracking of any size tool or piece of equipment, large or small, and automatic cloud storage backups increase the reliability of the system. Like the batteries, these power tools can be remotely disabled if taken out of the jobsite range.
In a press release, Mortenson Construction technologist Taylor Cupp said this about DEWALT’s Jobsite WiFi initiative: “They bring a wealth of expertise to the industry as the first company to truly focus on creating a platform to support the Internet of Things. In tackling connectivity, we see huge potential and opportunity for DEWALT and the wider construction community.”
The Minneapolis-based firm partnered with Dewalt for its initial Jobsite Wi-Fi pilot, and reportedly saved two percent on labor costs. Additionally, three large construction firms are piloting the solution to access information on construction technology management software including ProCore, Bluebeam, and Autodesk.
Manual tracking of workers, equipment, and supplies is a staple of the construction industry, but in the digital world the standard clipboard-pen-headcount routine just won’t cut it. Triax Technologies is ahead of the curve with it’s integrated Spot-r communication network. This cutting-edge, scalable network is designed to provide maximum visibility on-site while protecting worker privacy off-site.
Workers wear a device on their toolbelt that’s automatically connected to a non-GPS mesh network to communicate and track safety and productivity data in real time. Triax plans to integrate the Spot-r system with the Autodesk BIM 360™ construction collaboration, management, and communication software.
The Spot-r EquipTag will transmit real-time data to the BIM 360 modeling system, enabling off-site managers to monitor the activity, safety, and location of workers and machinery activity within Autodesk’s 3D models and 2D drawings.
Another key safety innovation from Triax is the Spot-r EvacTag, which supports evacuation procedures with a high-volume alarm and emergency LED lighting, triggered through the Spot-r dashboard.
Supervisors can monitor workers in real-time to help speed evacuations. Last year, New York City’s Lettire Construction Corp. adopted the EvacTag system on a $73 million, 12-story construction project, streamlining evacuation drill times by 72 percent.
Logistics software developer Voyage Control is delivering another serious blow to pen and paper recording on construction sites with a sophisticated real-time tracking and monitoring solution that has benefits for supes, GCs, subs, drivers, and the C-suite.
Reducing Logistics Costs
Designed to boost profitability through reducing logistics costs, ensuring compliance, and increasing planning agility, the secure, cloud-based Voyage Control software enables project teams to book deliveries in real time, and allows site supervisors to coordinate heavy equipment schedules with deliveries to eliminate traffic snarls and costly wait times.
Giving firms the ability to capture all the logistical data for a job site is a major breakthrough in construction technology and operational management. Constant, real-time access to data, timeframes, and supplier movement allows managers to head off security threats and unwanted or unscheduled deliveries.
The Green Factor
There’s also a significant green advantage at hand. The ability to refine delivery schedules can dramatically reduce vehicle idling time, reducing fuel waste and limiting the cost of paying drivers to wait their turn at the delivery bay.
According to the company website, Voyage Control will introduce the ability to “optimize loads, reducing the number of vehicles traveling around with little to no cargo and having a huge positive impact on the environment by reducing CO2 emissions.”
What are Construction Fleets?
Construction fleets include wide load vehicles, cranes, and other types of heavy machinery that require precise monitoring to keep costs under control. For companies looking to eliminate waste while increasing worker safety, the ES Track fleet management solution automatically tracks vehicles and equipment. ES Track collects critical data from every machine in the fleet and automatically transmits it to a central database. Metrics tracked include maintenance requirements, vehicle speed and location, and fuel consumption.
What really sets ES Track apart is its OEM-agnostic platform. On construction jobs, selecting all of the machinery needed from a single OEM is wildly impractical; conversely, getting multiple pieces of machinery from different manufacturers to communicate effectively with one another can be a nightmare.
Additionally, getting the right data from the right equipment to deliver useful information often requires manual intervention, slowing productivity, increasing reporting errors, and wasting valuable worker time on repetitive tasks that can—and should—be automated.
ES Track increases reporting accuracy and speed, gathering reports for the entire fleet in one location. Their OEM agnostic approach also eliminates the multiple subscription fees that often accompany telematics, helping to control costs even further. And, ES track allows fleet managers to spot duplicate or underutilized equipment so it can be sold, rented, or used at another jobsite.
While not specifically created to benefit construction firms, a powerful collaboration between Bosch and IBM is setting the stage for a connectivity revolution that will resound in every corner of industry.
According to IBM, its partnership with the German automotive and appliance juggernaut “combines the power of open standards-based Watson Internet of Things (IoT) with Bosch IoT Suite’s capabilities, enabling clients to securely and efficiently update IoT devices at large scale via the IBM Cloud.”
While the industry may just now be making tentative steps to leverage the power of construction technology, rest assured that connectivity innovators will propel them into the digital age, right on schedule.