Technology in Construction
JOB SITE PERSONAL SAFETY EQUIPMENT
When you think of technological advancements, your mind automatically gravitates toward industries like medicine or electronics. The construction sector doesn’t automatically seem like the kind of industry with innovative technological advances, but in reality, it is one of the most innovative industries out there. In fact, there are so many advancements happening so quickly that it’s sometimes hard to keep track of it all.
Tracking workers keeps them safe. Live location and status information also improves efficiency. Knowing where crews, materials and equipment are and how these assets flow through the work site, knowing when inventory stocks are running low, and knowing when equipment is on the verge of malfunctioning improves project coordination and jobsite organization.
This document is going to cover (3) technology advancements in construction personal safety equipment.
Wearable tech has already infiltrated the personal gadget space, but wearable devices in construction can do more than jus monitor heart rate or capture photos on the fly. A Japanese company Shimabun recently released an upgrade kit that can be used to outfit standard hardhats with a range of advanced safety capabilities.
For example, the Shimabun-equiped hardhat can monitor location, motion, and temperature, enabling it to issue a warning if a worker becomes lightheaded or overheated. It can also perceive if a worker has fallen and triggers an emergency call to first responders. The exactness of the data collected also makes it possible to perform better assessments of worksite mistakes to better prevent repeat occurrences.
Another wearable tech advancement is Smart Boots. This innovative advancement is equipped with sensors that can measure worker fatigue by measuring their gate along with a few other parameters. Providing real time location and data tracking, these boots can also alert first responders in an emergency and can communicate with heavy equipment systems to prevent vehicle accidents. Even better, the boots’ batteries are continuously recharged by the wearers every step. This type of boot will likely find its way into many industries as well as in military defense.
Augmented Reality Glasses
A change in ergonomics would further boost safety and efficiency. Exoskeletons are a rather extreme example that will nevertheless empower construction workers to manage physically demanding tasks with less risk of injury. More practical today are smart Augmented Reality glasses: Constantly looking down at paper plans or BIM models on tablets is dangerous. But when wearing smart glasses (or an AR helmet) a person can look at a BIM model overlaid onto the built environment while remaining heads-up and hands-free!
Conducting inspections with a checklist in hand, holding up a camera to take photos, and taking written notes is slow and not very accurate. Smart glasses allow for hands-free documentation of building progress (including voice memos) along with the ability to annotate and update blueprints in the field and view automated dashboards from live field data.
AR glasses, and even more so Virtual Reality headsets, can also be used for faster, safer and more effective training on heavy equipment; and to visualize where assets should go in planning staging areas, supply deliveries and equipment storage.
So, as the saying goes, “we’ve seen the future, and it’s now!”