Construction is one of the oldest jobs known to man. Ever since our ancestors decided to abandon their nomadic lifestyle and settle, we have needed durable shelters to keep us safe.
Obviously, our buildings have evolved over time. From huts to skyscrapers, a large degree of this evolution can be ascribed to the continuous development of technology. As our tools became more advanced and refined, they enabled us to build larger and more robust structures.
Today, we have the technology to erect moving buildings and construct underground palaces — feats our ancestors could only dream of!
Yet, with technology always evolving at an exponential rate, one can only wonder how today’s breakthroughs will make their way into the construction industry of tomorrow. Innovation in safety combined with the constant evolution of technology could mean so many amazing things are in store for the every day worker. For instance, the IoT has given rise to wearable technology, which is already making its way into the construction sector in fascinating ways, benefiting the industry as a whole.
How Is Wearable Technology Benefiting the Construction Industry?
The construction industry is one area where wearable technology has already been making strides. Let’s take a look the benefits of wearable technology for the construction industry specifically, WOO!
1. Enhancing Onsite Safety
Accidents on construction sites are a serious issue, one that is responsible for around one-fifth of all work-related deaths and injuries in the United States. If these accidents could be avoided altogether, it would save the lives of more than 500 Americans each year.
Therefore, the most obvious benefit wearable technology brings to the table concerns safety improvements. There are numerous wearable devices designed to increase workplace safety.
For example, smartwatches, probably the most popular form of wearables today, can monitor each worker and keep a watchful eye on their activity levels. This information can then be relayed to the onsite safety supervisor.
Why does this matter?
Well, for one thing, the safety supervisor will get a quick notification if the worker starts overexerting themselves or if they need to take a rest from the blistering sun. Moreover, a smartwatch will notify the safety supervisor in case of an accident, such as a worker falling, and reveal the injured party’s exact location.
Some wearable devices will protect workers from themselves. Smart hard hats, which can monitor fatigue and stop the worker from micro-sleeping, are a case in point. These hard hats can also notify the worker if they are getting too close to dangerous equipment or restricted areas.
Better yet, wearable technology potentially improves job site visibility. For example, AR glasses can help workers spot hazardous material quickly and keep them up-to-date with all the job site safety protocols. These glasses can also make it easier for workers to spot their colleagues onsite, preventing dangerous collisions.
2. Improving Workplace Efficiency
Wearable technology increases a worker’s efficiency in a variety of ways. The simplest one is by helping them perform their tasks. For example, exoskeletons will increase workers’ strength and stamina, enabling them to do more work in less time. Additionally, exoskeletons can monitor the worker’s posture and movement, notifying them if they twist or bend in a harmful way.
Another way wearables can improve onsite efficiency is through streamlining data collection. For example, when supervisors perform manual headcounts or safety checks, they are prone to making mistakes, and these tasks are often time-consuming.
Not only can wearables do the same activities almost instantaneously, taking up very little time, but their margin of error is also minuscule.
Should wearables be integrated with other technological solutions within the construction industry, this could dramatically boost productivity. For instance, smartphones are already used in tandem with construction management applications to generate reports on the spot. Wearables could perform a similar role.
3. Facilitating Communication
Prompt communication is particularly important in construction sites. Wearable devices can collect data from the site and instantly relay information to the proper individual responsible. A smart hard hat that provides a supervisor with a live feed can make sure that they are updated with the goings-on at the construction site in real-time.
Rather than being limited to auditory communication like phones and two-way radios, wearable devices allow workers to share photos, videos, and even entire tactile sensations, should the need arise.
For example, if a supervisor feels that one of their employees is dangerously close to a hazardous area, they can cause the worker’s safety vests to vibrate, alerting them of the potential danger.
This form of communication might come in handy at job sites that often get too noisy for an alarm or call to be heard.
4. Attracting A Younger Workforce
One of the main problems facing the construction industry is an aging workforce. The younger generation tends to be more attracted to jobs that require technology, resulting in a lack of incoming workers in the construction sector as existing ones age out of the job. This problem will become even more exacerbated as mortgage rates fall and the housing market recovers.
A proposed solution to this problem is the use of technology.
Millennials and younger generations who grew up with smartphones, cloud computing, and other modern marvels are surrounded by technology. They expect their workplace to make use of the latest gadgets on the market, too.
What’s more, the upcoming generations that are growing up during the rise of Industry 4.0 will be accustomed to even more advanced technology, like AI, data analytics, and blockchain.
Therefore, providing workers with wearables will be a great first step towards attracting these younger workers, proving that the industry is up to date with the latest developments.
Wearable technology also increases workplace satisfaction. After all, wearables offer a safer workspace while increasing each worker’s efficiency. So, in addition to bringing in more talent, wearable technology can help reduce turnover.
5. Improving Resource Planning And Management
Employees are one of the most important resources for any construction company. With the help of wearables, these companies can keep a watchful eye on them, making note of whether an employee is being idle, performing a task incorrectly, or neglecting to follow the necessary safety precautions.
Wearables will also help companies learn the strengths and weaknesses of each worker. This will make scheduling easier, as, armed with enough data, companies will be able to make much more accurate predictions about how long a certain project might take.
By reducing the amount of time it takes to receive a particular report or update, wearables will minimize delays, if not eradicate them. Even a supplier from miles away will instantly know a construction company’s needs without ever having to be notified by the company itself.
The Future of the Construction Industry
When it comes to new technologies making their way into the construction industry, wearable devices are just the tip of the iceberg.
It won’t be long before Industry 4.0 revolutionizes how we build our homes. Pretty soon, construction companies will be using drones to survey the land, AI technology to plan a project, 3D printing to enable the use of prefabricated parts, and 5G networks to boost current connectivity levels. Even construction contracts will be ruled by blockchain technology.
Wearable technology represents one of the most accessible aspects of these far-reaching changes. We hope this guide has provided valuable insight into how the potential ways of implementing it into your workplace to increase efficiency and safety.
About the author:
Michelle Laurey works as a VA for small businesses. She loves talking business, and productivity, and share her experience with others. Outside her keyboard, she spends time with her Kindle library or binge-watching Billions. Her superpower? Vinyasa flow! Talk to her on Twitter @michelle_laurey.