Technology on the Jobsite—What’s Working and Why
Posted on February 27, 2017
Increasingly, construction firms are leveraging technology to realize jobsite efficiencies that speed project completion and cut costs. Facing numerous pressures such as labor shortages, increased material costs and the demand for shorter construction lifecycles, the more successful firms are using a combination of different technologies to collect and leverage data, automate manual processes and complete tasks with greater accuracy and speed.
Here are a few technologies gaining traction in the industry:
Mobile and Cloud
Mobile and cloud solutions are replacing paper-based processes, especially in the areas of field-data collection and project management. According to JBKnowledge, mobile technologies are reaching critical mass for daily operations in construction companies, with 79.3% of respondents saying mobile is either important or very important. Similarly, more cloud-enabled technologies are being adopted for completing such tasks as bidding (36.1%), project management (28.3%), field data collection (27.2%) and contact management (21.2%).
Construction firms can benefit from wearables made possible by the Internet of Things (IoT). Examples include arm bands, gloves, watches, headsets or helmets, and glasses. They enable hands-free, real-time environmental data capture and the ability to integrate human input and sensory data. For instance, the “Smart Helmet,” invented by USA-based Daqri, uses 4D augmented reality technology and a transparent visor with special lenses that deliver a heads-up display, cameras and sensors to help users navigate and gather information about their environment. Workers can use it to see visual instructions for critical tasks.
3-D printing and automation
3-D printing promises to eliminate some of the manual, time-consuming and dangerous tasks required in traditional construction. For example, drones can complete inspections remotely, and send data back to intelligent systems in real time. Builders can use the data to simulate construction scenarios or perform tasks remotely, without human intervention. Automated robots can now lay bricks, drill or dig and even paint structures—on remote control. One Japanese construction equipment maker has even proposed replacing crews with drones to counteract the labor shortage.
Construction cameras and project tracking
Cameras are an essential technology on today’s jobsite. Advanced solutions offer time-lapse photography, live video streaming and security recording to help managers track projects from start to finish, cut costs and speed project completion. Time-lapse imagery provides a documented visual history of a construction project, so it’s fast and easy to investigate any incidents or subcontractor activity. Additionally, image documentation provides transparency to investors about a project’s progress, including justification for delays caused by weather or other factors.
Key Requirements for Technology Adoption
What does it take for a technology to be adopted on the jobsite? In an industry historically laden with manual tracking and management processes, adopting new technologies can be challenging. The JBKnowledge survey revealed about 62% of the builders surveyed say they’re “very comfortable” with new technology, but it has to meet some critical criteria:
- Easy to deploy and use: Lack of staff to support new technology was the most common answer in JBKnowledge’s survey (40%), followed closely by budget (37%) and employee hesitance (32%). These numbers indicate a need for easy-to-deploy, simple solutions that just work, preferably out of the box and on any connected device—smartphones, tablets or desktop computers. With limited budgets and shrinking timelines, there’s little time to train crews how to use a new camera or an IoT-enabled headset. It just has to work and be easy to operate.
- Tailored for specific functions: Although there’s a trend toward consolidating tools into integrated solutions, subcontractors want specialized solutions. Precision and performance are key—there’s no room for error and no time to waste. Most want tools that perform one or two tasks really well, rather than solutions that do lots of things sub-optimally.
- Reliable operation: Imagine a security camera stops working because of a technical issue at 3:00 a.m. Perhaps it fails to respond to remote commands, or runs out of storage and stops filming. Someone could raid the jobsite unseen, and you’d never know until morning when the crew finds equipment missing. And there would be no documentation explaining why you need to spend budget replacing stolen equipment. Reliable operation is a critical factor for ensuring the safety and security of your crew and jobsite, keeping costs down and helping you stay on-schedule.
TrueLook Construction Cameras Meet All Criteria
TrueLook delivers technology to the jobsite that’s easy-to-use, reliable and tailored to deliver live camera viewing, time-lapsing and security recording functionality to keep your crews safe and productive. The only camera vendor to offer free multi-cast streaming video, zero setup and accessibility from any connected device, TrueLook is on the cutting edge of jobsite technology. Find out more about our solutions or watch a demo.