The Internet of Things encapsulates several aspects of the construction tech landscape, including equipment and employee tracking, wearables, drone surveying and other information collected on the job site. As contractors and subs continue their quest to cut costs and improve efficiencies, many are turning to IoT options to improve site operations.
Garrett Harley, director of engineering and construction strategy for Oracle, said he tends to combine the terms IoT and business intelligence. “It’s the aggregation and collection going into a central repository where you can make intelligent decisions based on what you’re collecting,” he said. “All those decisions are just a way of moving something from a manual process to seeing that information in real-time.”
Wearables, for instance, can track workers in the field and ensure that they protected from or at least aware of job site hazards and other potential injuries, and equipment sensors can monitor whether machinery is in need of repair.
Willy Schlacks, president at EquipmentShare, pointed to labor tracking as a major technology trend poised to take off in construction. “The amount of waste in labor mistakes or labor fraud is enormous in the construction industry,” he said. “The adoption [of labor tracking technology] is going to be pretty quick because there’s such a strong correlation to the bottom line.”
Along with increased use of new technologies comes the need for interoperability. Firms still struggle to find solutions that take all of the information collected from different devices and sensors, and then translate it into quality information.
“The challenges become where you reach the point where there’s this tidal wave of information,” said Tony Colonna, senior vice president for innovative construction solutions at Skanska USA. “Being able to transform a lot of disconnected information into what we’ll call the actionable, something that gives me context, takes data from multiple sources and turns it into data we can use.”
Harley said he believes the construction industry is still in the process of embracing new technologies, with a group of progressive contractors leading the way. Companies that fail to keep up with the newest technologies risk getting left behind.