Construction has been one of the top-performing sectors in GCC over the last five years. With UAE and KSA leading the way in fueling some of the biggest projects undertaken worldwide. Globally, UAE is revered as home to some of the most ambitious, advanced architectural projects that utilise the latest construction technology.
The Building & Construction industry has been the flagbearers for adopting machinery and equipment that has improved or reduced manual labor. In a way, this industry has recognized and worked towards bringing in machines that reduce human intervention. Considering when first machines were extensively introduced in construction projects, we’ve come a long way where now we are testing robots to carry out tasks on site while humans oversee work from the comforts of their cabin.
Graph: The construction sector is expected to grow and perform well year-on-year, contributing to recovering GDP across the Middle East, in spite of the fluctuating oil prices. Source: KHL
Technology has been promoted and adopted heavily by the construction sector, be it engineers, project managers or labor on-site, there is a consensus that technology should be tested and introduced to assist people to do their jobs more efficiently. After all, working at a construction site is very different from working out of an office environment. Open landscape, weather, heavy machinery, protected work zones, and a lot more needs to be considered when building technology that improves processes without compromising on the quality of the product.
From sophisticated software suites to Virtual Reality to drones, technologies are being utilized to add value for real estate customers. Likewise, construction sites are harnessing the power of IoT, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning to improve overall efficiency and utilization. IoT is being rapidly consumed by a wide variety of sectors, particularly gaining popularity within the construction sector. A technology that promises smarter, safer work sites, along with improving efficiency, how could it not be a favorite?
Explained below are the key benefits of utilizing IoT in building and construction:
Equipment maintenance, for the longest time, has been managed by people. This leaves room for error. Imagine the number and dollar value of equipment present at a construction site, the amount is easily in millions. To manage the maintenance schedule of numerous machines can be a complicated task. Implementation of IoT addresses this issue smartly. Every equipment, mobile or fixed, is monitored and tracked in real-time. Vital statistics regarding usage and machine health are displayed on a screen with a sophisticated notification, alarm, and remote on/off control system in place. This system not only ensures timely maintenance but prompt response when a machine malfunctions or displays an alert. Potentially, saving huge dollars for the contractors.
A typical construction site is a combination of several sub-contractors, skilled labor, professionals, and a lot of equipment. Managing all these elements efficiently is an intensive task. By connecting machines, processes, and people, IoT allows for smooth and efficient execution of end-to-end projects. In simple terms, a person is responsible for operations and maintenance of all generators at the site. IoT connects all the generators and sends information to this person, who has a smart identification that gives him access to this information and these machines. All this information regarding the person and the machines is further linked to his supervisor’s account. As and when the generator initiates an alert or needs fuel, this person is notified, and all event reports and data is accessible to the supervisor. This process not only utilizes human resources to the optimum but ensures machine maintenance, procurement of fuel, and timely execution. If this is implemented across the entire site and all machines, people, and processes are linked, then projects can significantly improve their resource utilization and finances.
Like explained above, a construction project usually comprises of sub-contractors, labor, consultants, equipment – leased and owned, and more. Keeping a record for financial/accounting purpose is complex and involves lots of paperwork. It is not uncommon to see inflated costs and high labor/machine charges for such projects. By integrating your IoT solution with your CRM/ERP systems, your staff can do detailed invoicing and contract management. Through matching data on machine usage and id-ed access, and linking tasks with specific people, detailed invoicing can be smoothly achieved resulting in smarter cost management and improved business operations.
Real-time visibility and command over your assets not only gives you vital information, but it also empowers you with controlling tampering, theft, and damage. You have a dashboard that gives you complete information on the location of an asset, asset health vitals, authorized personnel access, maintenance reports, and more. This results in mitigated risk related to equipment failure, damage, unauthorized/excessive usage, loss of equipment, and even assist in avoiding major issues, like site flooding due to water pump damage or fire hazard due to over-heated equipment.
Security & Safety:
IoT enables overall security and improves safety by connecting things. With the use of smart identification, authorized access, complete visibility of assets, and integration with internal system and processes, it can be known as to which persons are working on what task using which machines at a given time. This not only reduces unwanted tasks and unaccounted labor, but it also allows for efficient use of labor and machinery. Security is tackled by restricting access to id-ed, authorized staff only. Safety is ensured through mitigating risks and prompt response to emergency situations.
With a centralized IoT system in place, construction site managers can have increased control and insight into the project. This equips them to make faster and smarter decisions. The powerful data gathered by IoT solutions can be used to further improvise six sigma approach/process being used to improve the execution of a project. As the construction sector becomes more advanced and environmentally conscious, IoT will gain prominence for seamlessly connecting sites and enabling value extraction. IoT, when combined with AI and Machine Learning, will offer improved automation, smart sites, intuitive and independent operations, along with optimum utilization of resources.
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