What Exactly Is IoT in Construction? The Facts Explained

Published Categorized as Innovative Technology
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Construction trends and practices are constantly evolving to meet growing demands. One of the fastest-growing trends in the industry centers around technology. And one of the most prevalent technological innovations in the construction industry is IoT in recent years.

IoT in construction refers to internet-connected devices and equipment used to maximize efficacy and efficiency in construction projects. IoT monitors supplies, workers, and equipment, saving person-hours and ensuring the construction project stays on track.

Continue reading for an in-depth analysis of IoT in construction. I will examine the benefits of this technology, where it’s used, and some of the potential drawbacks. By the end of this piece, you’ll know all you need to know about the Internet of Things and its use in construction.

What Is IoT?

Before I delve into the specifics surrounding how IoT is used in construction, I should first explain what IoT is and how it is used. So what is IoT? Where did it come from, and what is it used for today?

IoT stands for the Internet of Things. IoT was first developed in the 90s, although the term was not coined until a decade later. It refers to any object or thing that can be controlled via the internet. In recent years, IoT has been connected to modern software and AI to allow automation in many fields.

Many companies use IoT for a bunch of different purposes. One common application is to monitor stock levels in a large shop or warehouse. They can automatically realize when stock is running low and proceed to order more. However, this is far from the only use of IoT.

Where Is IoT Used in Construction?

Now that you know what the Internet of Things is and how it can be helpful, it’s time to discuss how construction companies use the technology. So, where is the Internet of Things used by modern construction companies to benefit their business and safely meet deadlines?

IoT is used in construction to monitor the whereabouts, functionality, safety, or condition of workers, equipment, and tools. The technology gives construction projects clear insights into whether proper safety procedures are being followed and whether the project is going according to plan.

Companies use IoT to monitor their staff, keep track of safety procedures, and even order supplies. It can be used for a wide range of tasks that continue to grow daily.

What Are IoT Sensors?

The Internet of Things is a fantastic way for businesses to get machines and equipment to take care of themselves. IoT-enabled devices are connected through specific sensors. However, many people do not realize what these sensors are or the purpose of IoT sensors is?

IoT sensors are devices that detect changes in the environment, such as changes in lighting or temperature. IoT sensors then connect to the internet, where either a human or an AI system prompts an action. Construction companies often use IoT sensors to stay on track.

IoT sensors are installed in any area or piece of equipment that a company wishes to monitor. They vary in size, shape, and function as some sensors will simply send you a notification, while others will trigger a response to specific situations.

What Are the Advantages of Using IoT in Construction?

IoT can help a project remain safe and timely. However, many people are unsure about the specific benefits a construction company experiences by investing in IoT for their projects.

Here are the advantages of using IoT in construction:

  • Reduces Labor Expenses
  • Improves Efficiency
  • Reduces Waste
  • Helps You to Stay on Track
  • Safety
  • Employee Tracking

See below for a breakdown of the advantages of using IoT in construction.

Cuts Down on Expenses

One of the single most significant advantages to construction companies using IoT is the money that they save. IoT is used for jobs that once required a human. When you compare installing and maintaining IoT with the costs of hiring potentially multiple workers, IoT is often the cheaper option.

Labor expenses are always one of the biggest expenses for any business. Therefore, companies relish the opportunity to drastically reduce this cost by using IoT and AI over employees for basic tasks.

Increased Efficiency

Another priority of IoT is the increased efficiency during the build. IoT handles much of the admin and inspections that take up valuable working hours. As a result, construction projects that use IoT receive increased efficiency during the build. This reduces overall build time and increases the company’s profits.

Inventory Management

If a construction company takes on a large build, IoT can track the materials available for the job and then order anything missing. This is crucial in staying organized during the build.

IoT is also not prone to human error. As a result, the likelihood of a wrong order being placed with suppliers is substantially reduced. Effective inventory tracking also ensures that you are never left waiting for a delivery before you can get to work.

Time Management

Construction companies also use IoT to keep on time during the build. A common issue in construction projects is delays. When you have IoT monitoring the build and how it’s progressing, companies can ensure that they meet their deadlines and finish the build on time.

Improved Employee Safety

Accidents and injuries are becoming less and less frequent on building sites. However, injuries and accidents do still occur during building projects. IoT can be used to ensure that safety rules and regulations are being followed by everyone on site. This improves employee safety and reduces the risk of accident or injury.

Keep Track of Employees During the Workday

When you are running a construction project, keeping your employees working hard and motivated is crucial to success. However, keeping an eye on all of the employees on a site is no simple task unless you use IoT. IoT sensors can track employee location and work to ensure that your employees are working hard throughout the day.

However, many employees will not appreciate being monitored. As a result, IoT can cause some friction when first introduced into a building site.

What Are the Disadvantages of Using IoT in Construction?

There are plenty of advantages to using IoT for construction projects. However, many companies still do not use IoT during their builds. To get to the bottom of this, let us examine the drawbacks of using this technology during construction.

Here are the disadvantages of using IoT in construction:

  • Privacy Concerns
  • Job Loss
  • Over-Reliance on Technology
  • Lowers Staff Morale

See below for a breakdown of the disadvantages of using IoT in construction.

Privacy Concerns

As with just about every other variety of new technology emerging, IoT comes with privacy and security concerns for some people. Companies worry about cyber attacks or hackers gaining access to sensitive information or control of company equipment.

As a result, some people have chosen to wait until they know that their data will remain private when using IoT. Also, companies that do not have a cyber security team may be vulnerable to computer hackers. As a result, some companies opt not to use IoT in their jobs.

Replaces Human Workers

Automation is coming for many jobs. In the near future, many jobs once held by people can now be completed by machines.

IoT does work that was once completed by humans. Therefore, some employers are reluctant to use IoT as it could damage staff morale or trigger anger at using a computer over hiring additional staff.

We’re Becoming Too Reliant on Technology

Another potential drawback to IoT is that the company using it becomes too dependent on technology. This can lead to problems when there are bugs in the software or issues in the system. On top of this, faulty sensors could cause various issues that require expensive repairs and replacements.

Lowers Staff Morale

One of the single most significant drawbacks to construction companies introducing some forms of IoT is the negative effect it can have on staff morale. IoT is commonly used in construction to track the movements and whereabouts of employees working on a site. This provides companies with key insight into productivity levels and ensures workers are safe on site.

However, tracking workers with IoT is not a popular move amongst many people. Employees will feel like they’re constantly being watched and that their privacy is being invaded at work. This lowers staff morale, which in turn reduces productivity and motivation, defeating the purpose of using IoT to track employees.

How IoT Is Affecting the Construction Industry

By this stage in the article, you are well aware of what the Internet of Things is and the advantages and disadvantages of using IoT. However, I’ve yet to specifically discuss how the IoT affects the construction industry and whether it’s beneficial to invest in IoT for your company.

IoT is positively affecting the construction industry. It can save a construction company a considerable amount of money and time. On top of this, IoT can improve the safety of building sites while ensuring that deadlines are consistently met. This is excellent for businesses seeking growth.

While the overall effect of the technology in the construction industry is positive, there are some negative impacts. Workers have complained about their lack of security and the level of surveillance when working with IoT. On top of this, some people may lose their jobs as IoT continues to do more and more work.

This will dissuade employers from using the technology over fears that they may not need some staff members. However, the employer would make more money and profit by installing IoT over hiring additional staff for admin purposes.

How Is AI Used in Construction?

In most cases, IoT is used with modern software systems like AIs. AI’s are self-learning programs designed to identify and resolve specific issues in a system or building project.

AI is used to create new building designs, enhance safety procedures, monitor staff interactions, and assist IoT in construction. The role AI plays in construction is growing, and in the future, it may be able to design homes on its own.

Some people believe that in the coming years, artificial intelligence will be capable of designing a new home. They then install the design using large-scale 3D printers and robots. Although, for now, this is not the case.

However, AI already has many applications from developing new materials and building techniques to enhancing safety standards. AI systems also work alongside IoT in some instances to manage stock or track employees.

Another use that construction companies found for artificial intelligence are quality control. AI can track building progress and alert supervisors to any potential issues that may arise. AI will also examine things like walls and electrical systems to ensure that the project stays on track and the finished product is up to scratch.

Why Is Artificial Intelligence Important in Construction?

Artificial Intelligence will play an increasingly critical role across all walks of modern life, and construction is certainly no exception. What are the benefits of using AI in a construction company?

Artificial Intelligence is essential in construction as it enhances planning and design, improves safety standards, controls task management, and updates stakeholders on building progress. AI also helps companies remain on time and to keep costs to a minimum during construction.

AI also creates unique and innovative designs for buildings. These designs that are often too hard to bring to life with traditional building methods can then be installed with 3D printers.

Final Thoughts

IoT or the Internet of Things refers to sensor-enhanced pieces of equipment connected to each other via the internet. It was first developed in the 90s, but since then, it has massively grown and developed. Nowadays, IoT is used to track and monitor various aspects of construction companies.

IoT can monitor staff performance, keep track of stock levels and ensure that your construction project meets deadlines. IoT also improves safety on site. However, some concerns have been raised about job loss and data protection regarding the Internet of Things.


By Giovanni Valle

Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.

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