We have been talking about the jobsite getting connected for years, but only recently are we really starting to see a great surge in protective gear, sensors, RFID (radio-frequency identification), drones, and other asset-tracking devices.

Personally I think it’s about time that technology companies and even construction companies are working together to bring these awesome solutions to market as well as help all get home to your families each and every night.

You might be asking yourself: are there any solutions specifically that have caught my eye? Lately, there are a few that I have seen that I like the vision of what they are doing. At the outset, I also want to say none of them are advertising with me. These are just a few that have come up with a creative disruption for construction. So here goes.

  1. Intellinium’s smart shoes, which allow construction workers to send and receive messages handsfree. Now think about this: If you are on the jobsite, a worker can send a message without the need for a smartphone. Each alert is sent from the toe of the boot. That means less distraction and the emergency alerts are sent using the company’s patented force sensor membrane that is built into the worker’s toe of the boot. This boot is able to detect falls and shocks and alert and notify exactly where the worker is on the jobsite. How many times have we reported the OSHA stat that the leading cause of private sector worker deaths in the construction industry is falls?
  1. Atlas RFID has been testing RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology on drones. I just spoke with this company and it filed for a patent on its drone-mounted radar that it tested in partnership with Bechtel on a large-liquid natural gas processing facility. The week-long testing pilot included a drone-mounted RFID scanning the yards to identify location of equipment and materials. As a result of this effort, it saw 56% less in sweep time and 22% boost in location captures. If all goes well, these drone-mounted RFIDs will locate and manage critical construction equipment and materials. There are a lot of advances in drones and I think this is only one of many that are really impressive.
  1. IPC inspection technology has been working to empower bridge inspectors looking to leverage technology via industrial safety inspections. You got to like where this is going. For instance, the state of South Carolina implemented a 24/7 bridge monitoring system with sensors being applied to girders on eight bridges to measure each bridge’s carrying capacity and to produce a condition assessment report to determine the overall deterioration of the infrastructure. The data retrieved from these monitors enabled the South Carolina Dept. of Transportation to resolve one bridge’s issues through a retrofit costing only $100,000, as opposed to a replacement cost of $800,000. While this is only one example, there are many others of how drones, AI (artificial intelligence), robotics, and machine learning advances are working in tandem to continue to help workers leverage technology rather than being replaced by it.
  1. Bird.i, just contacted me a couple days ago to clue me in here, but this start-up collates and disseminates satellite, airborne, and drone imagery in realtime to provide insights and data with two bespoke construction trackers currently being used in the Middle East. The New Construction Tracker and Construction Progress Tracker monitors new construction sites and the progress of existing ones by applying artificial intelligence solutions to regular satellite imagery. During the past six months, Bird.i has been collecting data generated by its New Construction Tracker, and has announced its first construction reports for Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

While I have only featured four companies, every day Laura and I and review dozens of new solutions that are truly changing the construction marketplace, which is amazing. Even the analysts are predicting some pretty impressive growth of what they have coined as intelligent personal protective gear, coupled with dramatic growth predictions for AI, drones, and machine learning. The sky is the limit for the opportunities for the future. As I see it, if all of this connected technology keeps workers safe on the jobsite and helps advance the industry as a whole then the Internet of Things is really moving in the right direction for construction.

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Peggy Smedley
Peggy Smedleyeditorial director