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| 2 minutes read

How the Internet of Things or IoT is Monitoring Construction Activities?

No longer is the Internet of Things or IoT limited to occupants taking inventory of their refrigerators or hackers taking control of kitchen appliances.  IoT is now being used during construction to monitor and collect data on construction activities.  Unlike artificial intelligence or AI which searches the internet to review and analyze collected data, IoT collects data transmitted to databases and then used by AI and/or stakeholders to monitor and manage construction activities.

The IoT collects and communicates data on construction projects through sensors and receptors that serve a variety of purposes.  The forms and types of sensors include worker sensors worn by individuals, equipment sensors attached to tools and equipment, and material sensors attached to materials.  Each form of sensor communicates to a receptor which then transmits the data collected to a database through the internet forming the IoT.

Worker sensors are worn in hard hats, work boots or pinned to work clothes.  These sensors identify the exact location of the worker on the work site and can track movements throughout the workday. Locations and movements are then transmitted to databases that can be used to evaluate productivity, measure work in place, and prepare invoices for completed work.  Alternatively, worker sensors can be used to identify and communicate hazardous conditions directly to the individual wearing the sensor, including proximity to “fall” hazards or “struck by” hazards.  Finally, worker sensors can be used to locate workers in the event of emergencies, or monitor the health of workers, including heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure.

Equipment sensors are attached to equipment and as with worker sensors track the location and movement of equipment.  These sensors can provide notice of the need for maintenance or repairs, shut equipment down when not in use, or locate the equipment if stolen and removed from the job site. Alternatively, equipment sensors can monitor hazardous conditions and shut down operation if the equipment is too close to workers or is creating toxic fumes or high temperatures.  Pole mounted job site cameras, flying drones, and roaming rovers, monitor, evaluate and report on the progress of construction, transmit video or progress photos, and provide job site security.  Alternatively drones  and rovers use LiDAR or Light Detection and Ranging to inventory and measure work in place and then transmit the data to databases that support and update a "BIM" or Building Information Model.

Material sensors are attached to supplies or embedded within the work to monitor conditions of the materials in place.  These sensors can be embedded in concrete at the time of placement to assist in determining the timing for finishing, curing and the removal of reshoring.  Alternatively, sensors can be attached to equipment forming a part of the work to monitor operation and acceptance by parties. Finally, sensors are attached to sensors monitor sustainability and maintenance of equipment to update "Digital Twins" for the benefit of facilities managers. 

Whatever the future IoT in the construction industry, its use will most likely further expand and involve the collection and monitoring of data that will then be used by either AI or stakeholders responsible for construction activities. 


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