Member Insights by Anna Madden, Astute Technology Management
The Commercial Construction industry has experienced striking growth in recent years. According to the 2020 Dodge Forecast for U.S. Total Construction Starts, 2015 saw 14% growth in total construction. Unfortunately this growth trend is slowed with 2020 predictions at -4% growth. Cost pressures, labor shortages and the overall trend toward fixed-bid projects have forced those in the industry to consider alternatives to bolster bottom lines. Technology has proven itself able to improve on operational processes by developing, refining and implementing smart sensors. Smart sensors are truly capable of changing the way commercial construction operates.
Theft is a constant risk in construction. According to the National Equipment Register, construction equipment is 9 times more likely to be stolen than vandalized and 5 times more likely to be stolen than damaged by fire. Tools that are light and small can be easy to lose track of on a busy construction site. Smart sensors attached to equipment and tools can be fitted with smart locks and GPS tracking. This helps keep valuable equipment and supplies protected on site, in transit or in chain of custody. Appreciated time will no longer be wasted on tracking down necessary items that should be at one site but end up at another. Replacement costs can be remediated by ensuring tools stay with their owner or are more easily recovered in the event they walk away.
Heavy equipment, light equipment and maintenance supplies add significantly to commercial construction costs. When that equipment breaks down it can be very costly for construction companies. Smart sensors can monitor heat and vibration on large equipment, track maintenance schedules, mileage and engine hour thresholds and alert superintendents that equipment are due for maintenance. These simple data points can mean the difference between scheduled maintenance and repairs or chaotic workarounds that drive profits down for many companies.
Job site risk is inherent to laborers in the construction industry. Sensors have been developed that can be integrated with head protection or attached to tool belts or clothing. These sensors can detect dangerous temperature increases in hot climates or during summer months. They are also capable of detecting rapid position or elevation changes that could indicate a fall. Monitoring musculoskeletal activity can alert site supervisors that a laborer is due for a position change thus avoiding injury. Sensors can be connected to alert a heavy equipment operator to the presence of a laborer potentially in harm’s way. These sensors can keep laborers safe drastically reducing staff down time so critical during labor shortage times. Additionally, implementing these workforce safety measures can significantly impact costs related to liability and insurance.
Material and Site Monitoring
Massive amounts of concrete are used in commercial construction. Concrete maturity can have an enormous impact on the timeline of a construction project. Embedded sensors have taken the decades old cylinder break test and rendered it all but obsolete. These sensors can indicate material strength, temperature and relative humidity and transmit this data to the superintendent’s smart phone. This data has proven reliable and consistent in assisting project managers to ably predict scheduling more accurately.
Valuable building materials can be monitored to prevent theft and to aid in location procurement when ready for use. According to Stealth Monitoringsmall tools, appliances, wood and heavy machinery are the top items thieves target. Loss of these items can add up to tens of thousands of dollars in a year. Thermal sensors coupled with geo-fencing can monitor job sites more efficiently and less expensively than a guard. These sensors can be networked to alert site managers to human presence afterhours and recorded to aid in criminal prosecution. Sensors integrated with equipment can be programmed to power off once they breach the perimeter of a site.
How Your MSP Can Leverage Smart Sensors for Your Business
The capability of smart sensors in commercial construction is progressively being realized. Whether the application for these sensors is in the cloud or housed on a server or desktop, partnering with the right MSP can mean the difference between valuable and helpful or costly and frustrating. Choosing an MSP with a focus in Commercial Construction can mean the difference between maximizing the potential of your smart sensor purchase and just scratching the surface. Questions? Contact the team at Astute Technology Management today! We’ll help your business realize the benefits of properly integrated smart sensors to help maximize your business proficiency.