How IoT can crack construction’s productivity woes

Technology is rapidly advancing, and most industries are deploying innovative solutions and gadgets to build more efficient processes and projects. In the past two decades, global labor-productivity growth has jumped up 3.6% in manufacturing and 2.8% overall, according to a McKinsey Global Institute report.

By comparison, the construction sector, long averse to change and new technologies, is evolving at a “glacial pace,” the report says. Productivity growth in construction, despite all the advances, has averaged just 1%. What’s more, according to a Dodge Data & Analytics report, 61% of construction projects finish behind schedule and 49% are over budget. 

Internet of Things-enabled solutions

In a recent webinar, presented by the Lean Construction Institute, Ian Ouelette, Triax’s vice president of product, highlighted some of the construction sector’s shortcomings and the opportunities provided by new technologies, particularly Internet of Things-enabled solutions. 

“IoT-enabled data collection and analysis is critical to improving safety and productivity by providing access to previously unobtainable information,” Ouelette told the audience.

Thanks to Internet-connected devices, builders and contractors can collect information from anywhere on jobsites — and at any time — to track wasted time, movements and human potential. 

And with the data, site managers can aggregate the information over time to come up with enterprise-wide insights to streamline work on a current project and allow for better planning of the next one.

Improve Jobsite Inefficiencies

During the webinar, Ouelette offered up examples of how these devices can improve jobsite inefficiencies based on Triax customers’ own experiences with Spot-r, a wearable device that workers attach to their waistbands or that equipment is tagged with. Spot-r captures real-time data about the location of workers or equipment, notifies supervisors about falls and alerts workers to site evacuations, among other capabilities.

With it, site managers gain insights into the hours that trades and specific subcontractors are spending on floors and in project zones, so they can compare the time logged to the schedule and proactively identify any impact the actual hours worked may have on the schedule.

Spot-r also gives users the ability to monitor specific points of interest on a jobsite to better understand how long workers are, for example, waiting for lifts or shared workstations and make adjustments, accordingly.

Benefits of using technology are striking.

As Ouelette shared during the webinar, the benefits of using a technology like Spot-r are striking.

  • Thanks to Spot-r’s automatic fall notifications, one building company cut 91% off its response times. No longer did supervisors rely on bystanders to witness a fall and travel to the jobsite trailer to report it. Instead, Spot-r issued an immediate alert, so the supervisor could quickly attend to the injured worker.
  • With Spot-r’s jobsite evacuation alerts, another company saw air horn drills move nearly four times faster. On a project to construct a 25-story building with 500 workers, those streamlined evacuations translated into a savings of 226 production hours or $11,000 in wages per drill. 
  • In another case, a contractor deployed our Points of Interest beacons across a high-rise jobsite to provide context about where workers were spending their time after Spot-r identified significant “non-tool time.” As it turns out, most of the workers’ time was spent on the 12th floor and the first floor though work was scheduled on the fifth to 12th floors. With the insights, the contractor found that workers were spending a large amount of time at the loading dock each day to pick up the materials they needed.

    To make the jobsite more efficient, the contractor hired laborers who were dedicated to receiving and distributing materials. They also introduced a distribution plan to ensure that materials required for the next day’s work were placed where workers needed them the night before. When the trades and skilled workers arrived the next morning, they could simply head to where the tasks were.

“The construction industry faces a unique mix of challenges and opportunities right now with a skilled labor shortage and increased construction activity,” Ouelette told the audience. “It’s essential that the industry — contractors, solution providers and project partners — work together today to adopt technology and turn data into knowledge.”

Are you ready to turn data from your jobsite into knowledge? Contact us to learn more.