The Internet of Things (IoT) is often discussed in the context of consumer electronics. People know that the smart devices in their homes—from the smartphone in their pockets to their lights and refrigerator—are connected to the internet and communicating with one another to accomplish tasks and make their lives a tad better.
However, IoT is already in use across many industries, including logistics, manufacturing, transportation, energy or utilities, and oil and gas. There is also potential to revolutionize the construction industry.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the expansion of the use of IoT in industrial sectors. It moves beyond internetworking in consumer devices. Instead, IIoT encompasses the use of machine-to-machine communication, machine learning, and big data.
To Monitor Construction Equipment
The construction industry employs several types of heavy equipment, sometimes across multiple sites.
You will often see multiple trucks unloading supplies and materials, compact excavators digging up dirt, forklifts carrying heavy loads, backhoes digging up trees, and so much more. Across multiple sites, keeping track of all these valuable heavy equipment would be a nightmare or downright impossible. This is how IIoT can help.
A fleet management solution can enable contractors to automatically capture data about a number of heavy equipment, including their location, the speed at which they are moving, and fuel consumption in real time. It is especially beneficial for industries that have to monitor the use and whereabouts of expensive machinery. The person who oversees the site will receive a notification if the backhoe, for example, leaves the perimeter and point out where the machine is going.
It is already in use in the trucking industry. The time has come for the construction industry to adopt the technology on a broader scale.
In addition, IIoT has the capacity to run diagnostics to see if the machine is working as it should be or if it is due for maintenance. The technology can prevent time lost and money wasted on equipment that suddenly stops working in the middle of a workday.
To Monitor the Construction Site
All IIoT solutions require the use of sensors to gather and report data in real-time. In the construction industry, sensors can be utilized to determine the site condition 24/7.
Amid the myriad of work being done at a construction site, it is hard to keep watch of everything happening. Multiple people are going around, doing the tasks they are assigned to do, as well as heavy equipment hard at work throughout the day. There is no guarantee that everything is in compliance with health and safety standards.
However, sensors help by mining data on temperature, humidity, noise, vibrations, etc. It can recognize patterns so that when something is amiss, the contractor can be alerted. This could potentially lower the risk of accidents and injuries on the construction site.
To Monitor Construction Workers’ Safety
There are risks involved in working in the construction industry. In the United States, about 20 percent of worker fatalities in private sectors in 2019 happened in construction. Nonetheless, a huge portion of deaths can be avoided through IIoT.
The addition of a humble smartwatch into the uniform of construction workers will immediately decrease their risk of death due to accidents and injuries. For example, the Apple Watch, which is relatively affordable and widely available, has a feature that detects when the wearer has fallen down and can call for help.
Because of it, contractors can send people to check on the worker and apply first aid when needed. It can save lives. Moreover, the Apple Watch is equipped with sensors that monitor health information, including heart rate and blood oxygen levels.
To Automatically Record Data
Keeping data on paper is primitive and, most of the time, inefficient. It is slow, and it is very prone to error. Moreover, it creates even more trash—something that is already a problem in the construction industry.
IIoT enables the industry to shift toward utilizing digital tools and maintaining data on the cloud. Digitizing recordkeeping safeguards data from being destroyed or from prying eyes.
Moreover, IIoT can also aid in the collection of data. The sensors around the site and on heavy equipment record information in a database that is easily accessible and can be analyzed through highly sophisticated software. It is so much more convenient than writing things by hand and storing essential documents in a file cabinet.
IIoT is the future. Industries will, at some point, all adopt different technologies to create a connected and communicating system to improve day-to-day operations.