With younger, tech-savvy employees entering the construction business and the surge of Baby Boomers retiring, technology has finally found its way into construction. The industry recognizes the value of technology. After all, the right one can save time and money while increasing productivity and safety.
For starters, several companies are investing in innovative construction materials. Some are good for the environment since they're made of recyclable materials. Others provide benefits for buildings because the materials last longer, can handle extreme weather, and are energy-efficient.
Some of these products are wearables, which is a booming industry. ABIresearch forecasts wearables will grow from $247 million in 2017 to $838 million by 2022. Construction companies are hopping on the bandwagon by integrating wearables into personal protective equipment (PPE) to enhance safety. Those that invest in construction safety gear, wearables, and other technology will leap ahead of the competition. Here are some possibilities that could be worth investigating.
Caterpillar's Cat Detect for Personnel relies on radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. You put the RFID tag in PPE like hard hats and safety vests. Then, install an antenna in equipment for communicating with the RFID tag.
If you put the antenna on equipment and the operator hits reverse, the operator will receive a visual and audible alert. This tells the operator a ground worker is behind the equipment. The antenna can detect a ground worker wearing Cat Detect for Personnel in a safety vest or hard hat. The RFID will detect the worker regardless if the he or she sits, stands, or crouches.
Everyone has an off day where they feel exhausted or sluggish. Office workers slog through at the safety of their desks, but for construction workers, fatigue could lead to serious injuries. Enter the Cat Smartband, which can detect potential risks hours ahead of the worker becoming impaired from fatigue.
Workers wear a cloud-compatible band that studies various sleep factors such as quantity, time of day, and consistency. The system then assigns a score to each worker that accurately predicts how the workers' fatigue will change during their shift.
On a normal day, most people get a score in the 80s or 90s, indicating moderate to low fatigue risk. Anyone with a score of 70 or below has fatigue comparable to drunk driving. The wearable has a companion mobile app that lets workers track their own fatigue levels.
Much like the smartband, there is product with a sensor that attaches to a belt clip and tracks movement. One example is the Spot-r, which combines a belt clip, dashboard, and the network to provide visibility into workers, safety, and resources. The clip contains a button that allows workers to report hazards or send distress signals to designated supervisors from anywhere on the worksite.
If an evacuation is necessary, like with a protesting crane climber, authorized personnel can turn on emergency alarms that go out to everyone's device. As soon as workers arrive on the job site, their clips connect to the network to keep track of time and attendance.
Smart glasses are slowly replacing traditional safety glasses that shield the eyes from debris and dust. These connected, hands-free tools hook to a worker’s hard hat. It’s like wearing glasses with a built-in camera. This technology allows a supervisor to watch what the workers are doing to ensure they're following safety protocols. Some use it for training. However, this wearable solution turns out to be cost prohibitive for many.
You may already have a solution in place for construction security that could do the same thing as these wearable glasses and this solution doesn't require buying items for every worker. Live remote monitoring not only watches a construction site, but it can also identify safety hazards and improve safety processes. Managers can use video footage for training.
While construction technologies can enhance safety and efficiency, construction security remains a top priority. Theft, vandalism, and crane climbers can prove costly. The right technologies help construction companies improve worker safety, increase efficiency, and boost productivity.
No company wants to invest in just any construction wearables or technologies that sound cool. They need to make good business sense and provide a good ROI. To learn more about construction security options, please contact us.