Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a digital representation of a future building that’s used by designers, engineers, and contractors to get a better idea of what a construction project entails. This covers not only laying the grounds and building the structure, but considering other factors, such as surrounding infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.) and the utilities required to make the building functional (water, electricity, etc.). This process often uses 3D modeling through PhotoModeler (read more to learn about PhotoModeler and how it works) to create a scaled, realistic model.
IoT is being integrated into current building projects to collect data that will ultimately impact future construction projects. Experts are collecting analytics about buildings-- like the energy consumption levels and temperature flow-- to make adjustments for future projects. This creates a very powerful selling position for contractors and architects.
Personal Use Integrations
One of the key ways that the IoT is changing construction is meeting customer needs. In recent years there has been a subtle shift toward these larger changes. An example would be the inclusion of USB outlets replacing traditional wall outlets for plugs. As smartphones have become a staple and changed the way people communicate over the past decade, buildings have been evolving at a rapid pace.
The changes will continue as the Iot evolves. It was forecasted that 56.3 million home assistant speakers would be sold during 2018. Through the IoT, these smart speakers can brew you a cup of coffee, set a timer for your lights, alter the climate in your home-- as long as compatible outlets are in place.
The IoT is forcing designers and contractors to think ahead of current construction needs to the future. While smart homes are still a novelty, it wasn’t so long ago that people were perfectly fine using their Motorola Razor Phone rather than splurging on the newly introduced Apple iPhone.
Supply Chain Management
Tracking materials and inventory is a full-time job which often has multiple people involved: someone who orders and tracks inventory, someone who enters the financial data into the system, and so on. Now, with automation, AI, and the IoT, supply chain management and the related business structure is changing. By using RFID tags on inventory, there’s no need to take a physical tally and reconcile the information, leading to the time-consuming, costly allocation of resources and a significant margin of error. Using a reader on an RFID scanner automatically tracks the information in the inventory system through the IoT.
Not only do these changes have the potential to change the profitability and efficiency of a business, but they also raise questions about job security and ethics within an organization.
The IoT has the potential to both enhance and challenge safety in the construction industry. One of the positive ways the IoT will impact construction safety is by allowing for remote operation. Consider when hazardous materials are being investigated or removed from a job site, or an area might be structurally unsound after a storm. Wireless machines can be used to enter the area, so that risk to workers is minimized. Additionally, wearable technology can create eyes on the job site in various areas to ensure that safety protocols are being followed.
On the other side of the equation, cybersecurity is at the forefront of everyone’s mind right now. By creating this level of interconnectivity, especially pertaining to the cloud, it creates an opening for hackers with malicious intent. Like many businesses, the construction industry is having to dedicate time and money to cybersecurity efforts to ensure a safe worksite and secure final product.
Equipment and Tool Tracking
The equipment and tool tracking implications of the IoT in construction has the potential to drastically reduce lost or stolen goods from a job site. This ultimately impacts a company’s bottom line, as well as the project timeline in many cases. GPS tracking can be used not only on tools, but on vehicles as well. This feature is particularly useful for large job sites and for tracking where large machinery is working in relation to the project plan.
Ethics and Concerns
The integration of modern technology-- be it the IoT or AI and machine learning-- have raised a lot of ethical questions. How does this interconnectivity impact security? Does automation threaten the jobs of hardworking employees? What safety considerations have yet to be considered because the dangers have yet to occur? With technology evolving at an exponential rate, it can be challenging for businesses to keep up. For the construction industry, the best approach is a straightforward one: integrate the changes that will keep workers safe and the company profitable while meeting client expectations.