5 Ways COVID-19 Has Accelerated the Construction Industry’s Adoption of IoT

July 9, 2020 - 7 minutes read

IoT app development

Across the globe, the coronavirus crisis has halted business operations of all shapes and sizes. But in these difficult times, sectors deemed essential such as construction have soldiered on. Perhaps more surprisingly, COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) in this industry.

Thanks to IoT development, construction job sites are being reimagined from the ground up — and many of these changes are here to stay even after the coronavirus outbreak is contained. With capabilities like real-time tracking and monitoring, IoT is opening up a wealth of possibilities for contractors to leverage other technologies like artificial intelligence (AI). Let’s explore how this industry has embraced IoT in the era of COVID-19.

1. Contact Tracing

For the majority of the world, social distancing is the main method people employ to keep COVID-19 at bay. But in the construction industry, close collaboration is often required during day-to-day operations. To improve worker safety, many construction companies are socially distancing where they can and utilizing contact tracing as well.

Essentially, IoT devices are mounted to a worker’s hardhat and communicate with other sensors in range to monitor and detect close interactions. These types of systems can collect data and even alert workers when their proximity is too close to one another. Things get even more interesting with the application of AI.

IoT app development

With thermal cameras, IoT systems can capture workers’ heat profiles. From there, an AI agent acting as a virtual safety inspector can help ensure that appropriate distances are maintained between people. Alongside Bluetooth-based tracking technology, this is being employed to contact trace assets and individuals in areas such as construction sites, factories, and hospitals.

2. Project Management and Inspection

In an ideal scenario, engineers and technicians usually visit construction sites and factories in-person to ensure that projects are proceeding according to plan. But during the era of the coronavirus, this can compromise social distancing measures and facilitate the spread of the illness. Flying an inspector from an NYC development site to one in Houston and to another in Los Angeles isn’t the most prudent idea these days. Besides this, the myriad safety changes brought about by COVID-19 means it would take much more time and effort than before to perform on-site inspections.

To simplify things, an on-site employee can capture images and videos with a 360-degree camera and share them with team members and regulators. Inexpensive streaming options such as FaceTime, Google Duo, and Zoom offer an easy way to start.

IoT app development

For more sophisticated projects, IoT sensors and augmented reality can be used by experts to provide remote guidance. Both technologies are already used to reduce downtime via predictive maintenance, so expanding it to this use case isn’t too far of a stretch.

3. Moving Supply Chains Off-Site

With COVID-19 in the picture, many construction companies have moved to off-site methods in an effort to enhance worker safety. And supply chains are no exception in this regard. Contractors are not only pushing for more fabrication off-site, but manufacturers are also expanding their array of prefabricated assemblies.

IoT app development

It’s actually surprising this wasn’t done sooner — the efficiency and controlled environment of factory lines equal savings in labor costs and shorter on-site schedules. IoT technology is playing a pivotal role in these operations to ensure high-quality production and on-time delivery of assets.

4. Safer Construction Sites

As we noted earlier, IoT is being deployed on some job sites to monitor body temperatures via thermal cameras. Some projects are even equipping drones with IoT devices to spray disinfectants. While all of this occurs, the IoT sensors are relaying information to primary stakeholders so they can make high-level decisions efficiently and effectively.

IoT app development

If sites are employing the strategies discussed in this article and have rock-solid plans to maintain social distancing, they’re being allowed to reopen. Automated handwashing stations that are monitored and cleaned regularly are not out of the ordinary today. Some sites are also considering the installation of temperature checking equipment in restrooms.

5. Working From Home

Outside of the construction sites, COVID-19 has caused many offices in this industry to work remotely. As is the case for many industries, this means that office employees are heavily relying on tech such as video conferencing, emailing, and texting to get their jobs done.

But because construction jobs depend on tangible results, IoT is even more integral for office employees in this sector. Thanks to this technology, they’re able to monitor supply chain logistics, inspect sites, and ensure the safety of on-site workers. In fact, many workers in this field are finding that IoT provides a more accurate, efficient avenue for updates than the status quo before COVID-19.

Adopting IoT Is the Way Forward for Many Industries

We hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into how the construction industry is adapting to the times with IoT. The WHO and other leading health organizations believe that outbreaks like COVID-19 may never completely disappear; they may come in waves for the foreseeable future.

IoT app development

Being prudent and adapting to the times now can not only help support the productivity of your remote employees but protect their health as well. Many of the examples we’ve discussed can be adapted to various industries. All it takes is some ingenuity.

How has COVID-19 changed the way you work? Are you utilizing emerging technologies like AI and IoT to get the job done? As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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