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Increase productivity in construction with IoT

Construction sites will continue to become more complex, requiring companies to adopt IoT-enabled sensors and devices to accommodate the ever-changing demands of the industry.

Improving productivity is an ongoing priority for companies across the world. In the construction industry, productivity is not only a priority but a pressing challenge due to the increase in global urbanization.

The deployment of IoT-enabled technologies is one way to address these challenges to enhance productivity and more efficiently manage projects while reducing operational costs.

Worldwide, the construction industry is on track to grow 4.2% by 2023, according to a January report by Research and Markets, further emphasizing the need to address productivity challenges to maintain this growth and demand.

IoT has already made dramatic improvements across the construction industry. IoT solutions coupled with the advancements in 5G can give companies the advantage of higher speeds and lower latency to create more bandwidth for the plethora of tools, resources and tech used both on- and off-site. Other developments in construction stemming from long-range, low-power technologies make smart construction sites possible by deploying sensors that track key performance indicators, equipment turnover, and utilization rates and inventory.

For example, Bouygues Construction Matériel, a subsidiary of global construction group Bouygues Construction, has implemented an asset-tracking product that ensures construction sites have compliant equipment. The company has deployed long-range and low-power connectivity with sensors on more than 20,000 pieces of equipment across construction sites in France. Each site gains insight into productivity by tracking geolocation to optimize equipment use and monitor the state of site equipment.

IoT benefits construction in 3 ways

As demands become more rigorous across construction sites and companies are forced to adjust to account for changing market demands, there are three areas where IoT implementation will yield benefits: productivity, safety and site operations.

Productivity. Productivity is the most significant challenge facing the construction industry today. The growing need to avoid project delays triggers the growth of IoT in construction. In an industry driven by deadlines, companies must remain on target because delays also increase the budget. IoT-enabled sensors can keep companies on track and optimize daily tasks, such as scheduling and inspections, by tracking equipment and deliveries. Digital management platforms monitor both equipment and employees. Managers can view and navigate a virtual map in real time to access the location and configuration of equipment as well as links to quality control sheets.

Safety and security. Safety is a top priority at every construction site. Without healthy employees and a safe work environment, productivity will always fail. Luckily, IoT-enabled tags equipped with a sensor can track a piece of equipment on a site dashboard for potential risks, such as air quality, or receive notifications when an employee gets too close to a piece of machinery. Accessing data in real time allows workers to take preventive action and stop a potentially harmful situation.

IoT-enabled tags are also used to reduce theft on sites. These tags make equipment easier to track and monitor, eliminating the need for constant supervision. Additionally, they can save construction companies up to hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, as construction equipment theft and the cost of materials are skyrocketing.

Site operations. There are many expenses associated with a construction site, and two of the top costs are power and fuel consumption. IoT devices, including fuel sensors or load sensors, can help companies actively manage expenses through real-time monitoring and management of assets. Managers can then schedule, turn on and off, and idle equipment day and night to improve efficiency and drive costs down, as well as assessing the state of equipment to prevent issues and identify when stock or condition is low-functioning or damaged.

About the author
Marc Pégulu has been vice president of IoT and LoRa product marketing and strategy in the wireless and sensing products group at Semtech since June 2015. He held the position of vice president of wireless and sensing products from June 2014. Prior to this appointment, he held the position of director of marketing and applications. Pégulu joined the company in March 2006 and was involved in several key technology initiatives, including LoRa wireless and software-defined modem technologies. Prior to joining Semtech, he held positions in chips and systems development at Thomson-CSF, Thales Group, Atmel and DiBcom in France and China. Pégulu holds a Master of Science degree in electronics and telecommunications from the Grenoble Institute of Technology, and is a graduate of the Executive MBA program of ESCP Business School.

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