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While construction is one of the biggest industries, valued at around $10 trillion, it has proven slow to adopt new technology. For this reason, productivity in the sector does not always show promising growth; something it will need to develop if it is going to meet the rising demands for new housing and infrastructure construction.
The adoption of technology is offering a way for the construction industry to improve its processes, and to make it more efficient and profitable. In particular, engineers and contractors are beginning to embrace smart sensors for the numerous advantages they bring to the sector.
Smart sensors are beginning to be used in the construction industry in a number of applications. Below we describe five ways in which sensors improve construction.
1. Concrete Monitoring
Measuring factors such as moisture content, pH, relative humidity, strength and temperature are all essential to optimizing concrete use. Using sensors for this application has been seen to positively impact construction projects by helping to bring forward project completion dates by using the collected data to optimize critical operations.
It also has the benefit of increasing the safety of the construction by boosting the performance and condition of the concrete.
2. Track Project Equipment
Locating, tracking and maintaining construction equipment is essential in preventing loss and damage and reducing time wasted while replacing, repairing or locating equipment. Sensors are being used to track materials and equipment in real-time, allowing projects to adhere to strict timelines, without unexpected delays.
Sensors are also being used to monitor how equipment is used, helping to optimize maintenance scheduling, reducing the need for expensive repairs and decreasing breakdown frequencies.
3. Monitor Site Conditions
The monitoring of site conditions is essential to improving both safety and productivity. Connected sensors can report back on weather conditions, which may have a negative impact on building materials and construction methods, or may threaten the safety of workers.
As well as monitoring the weather around the site, sensors can also be used to monitor levels of toxic pollutants. Gas leaks are not unheard of on construction sites, and sensors can alert workers of their occurrence before the human senses would register them.
4. Gathering of Critical Data
Wireless sensors are facilitating the autonomous and accurate collection of critical data that would traditionally be a lengthy process carried out by teams of people. Now, contractors are able to connect numerous sensors through the internet, and download their data instantly onto a smartphone or device and share this immediately with project workers who need this information.
This has the impact of reducing the time needed to work on a project, cutting costs and allowing workers to be relocated to areas of the project where their time is better spent.
Heat, noise, dust and fumes all present health hazards to workers at construction sites. Sensors open up the possibility of monitoring these factors in real-time, feeding this back to safety managers instantly. This would prevent workers from continuing with a project while levels of any of these factors are too high.
Sensors can be connected with devices to send alerts to prevent accidents and damage to health from exposure to these elements. Through these systems, which are driven by sensors, construction projects can be more productive as costly delays are avoided. Safety and worker satisfaction is increased, as people enjoy the benefits of working in more favorable conditions.
Construction has only just begun to adopt sensor technology andwe can expect to see the industry enjoying more benefits from their use, as applications continue to be developed.