Smart wearable sensors are being used to track workers, which is also having a positive impact in the construction industry, especially in terms of workplace safety.
Technology is helping a lot to construction industry to improve their processes and productivity. This industry is regarded as one of the most information-intensive industries as a lot of processes require real time and extensive exchange of information between workers and stakeholders. Using the right technology at the right time is crucial to achieve time, cost and quality objectives of your construction project. Briefing on how technology is transforming the construction industry Niraj Bhatia, General Manager- Commercial, Luxora Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd says, “Recent technological advances have made construction sites more productive and less stressful. Construction projects involve a lot of machinery to be transported to the site which creates a risk of machinery being misplaced or stolen potentially costing companies millions each year. These machines also pose a safety hazard if left unattended. In response to these issues construction companies are implementing bar-codes / QR Codes on their equipment to solve this issue. Just by scanning these codes with digital readers at the beginning and end of each workday, companies are able to track their equipment better.”
Technologies for workplace safety
Revealing on the breakthrough technology Bhatia says, “Smart wearable sensors are being used to track workers, which is also having a positive impact in the construction industry, especially in terms of workplace safety.” Several companies are now putting smart sensors in their workers boots, helmets and wristwatches to get real time data on the employee’s health and safety. For example, hard helmet sensors can alert managers in the event of an incident occurring. These helmets can monitor employees’ health in extreme outdoor environments using the sweatband sensors that measures the heart rate and temperature of the wearer. On the other hand, boot sensors can monitor how long workers have been on their feet, allowing them to track the amount of time spent between breaks. Similarly harness sensors can monitor the number of workers onsite and notify managers in case there is a sudden drop in height indicating a worker has taken a fall.
Bhatia also points out that it is very difficult for workers to undertake tasks in awkward and dangerous places. Instead of using expensive surveying tools and heavy machinery, cheap drones can be useful to quickly survey the site and build maps. These flying gadgets installed with high resolution cameras are already forming an integral part of business operations of some innovative construction firms. “With the advancement in 3D Modelling technology and extreme resolution cameras, 3D models of construction sites can be designed in no time. A company can also use this technology as a marketing tool enabling them to create a buzz about their company using interesting imagery and videography captured,” he adds.
Drones can also be used to keep a schedule on track and reduce down time, ensuring efficiency of workers onsite. Detailed shots taken from a drone can keep stakeholders constantly up to date of the progress of a project. The larger the construction site the more helpful a drone can be at monitoring the project. However, most companies are still reluctant to use this technology due to its potential for hacking or loss of power, which could result in personal injury, physical damage or even death.
Too much innovation can be fatal
Bhatia believes that too many innovation and development can decline in demand for manual labour. He observes, “With all of these developments in technology, there is one major drawback which will have a profound effect on the industry in the future and that is job losses arising from the decline in demand for manual labour.” A recent estimation made is that smart machines could replace as many as 40 million to 75 million jobs worldwide. Many areas of manual and professional work are already being displaced by rapid advances in affordable technology. Robots are being developed which can be taught and programmed by any regular worker to perform virtually any hand-eye coordination task and are already being tested with tasks such as painting, laying bricks and laying pipes. “White collar worker roles are at high risk due to advances in the field of artificial intelligence. There are a lot of jobs undertaken by engineers, surveyors and designers which are already being done by machines. Robotics is already being used in construction industry to weld structural steel for buildings which can be a faster, more accurate and efficient,” he points out.