What Does The Internet of Things (IoT) Mean For the Construction Industry?
The Internet of Things ( IoT) is a hot topic in IT, and experts are predicting that in the near future, IoT will be a part of our daily lives. This technology has found application in different fields like the medical field, automotive industry, and surprisingly the construction industry.
It might be wondering how the IoT which is relatively thought of to be a new technology find its way to an Industry that is considered the most resistant to accepting new technology. AEC professionals have just started using construction project management cloud software to streamline its process, and saying that it has been using IoT can be surprising to know.
But if you really think about it, at the very core IoT is just fancy talk to mean machines ‘talking’ to each other using the same ‘language’ and using the Internet as a medium to communicate. And if we think of IoT this way, the construction industry has been using telematics for quite some time now in construction machinery.
But, IoT is doing more than just transmitting information from construction machines, it is transforming every aspect of the building process- how structures are built, how it is managed, and ultimately how we live in them. Here are a few unexpected ways that IoT is being used in construction.
Telematics in Construction Machines
Unknowingly, telematics (or the installation of sensors in machines so that it can monitor the way it operates, its performance levels and the state it is) has been in used in construction for quite some time now. But it has not been very public because of course, construction companies want to keep their leverage away from the prying eyes of its competitors.
Depending on what kind of technology is being used, telematics in construction machines can range from just tracking the hours the machine was operational, the amount of fuel it consumes, and its location. However, more sophisticated machines are equipped with sensors that track things like fluid temperatures, engine load, all the fluid temperatures, and other operational parameters to make sure that the machines are working the way they are supposed to.
This kind of technology makes sure that the machine is able to operate at its peak performance and reduces downtime bought about by machine breakdown, and at the same time saves money for the owners because they only need to make repairs when it’s really needed.
IoT in Green Buildings
Due to the fact that the construction industry has been a big contributor in global warming thru the use of concrete as well as the main contributor in landfill waste with materials coming from building projects, there has a call to sustainable architecture and construction. But the drive to green buildings has evolved from just using sustainable materials and reducing the amount of waste that goes to the landfill to the design and the engineering of the building systems themselves. How the building is maintained is also a big factor in how it reduces its impact on the environment through the use of proper energy management.
Now, thru the use of IoT, buildings can be engineered to do energy saving things like turn off systems when it senses that the building is unoccupied or open and close window shutters automatically to let in light among other things that it IoT is capable of doing.
Building Information Modeling and Intelligent Prefab Construction
BIM or Building Information Modelling is basically a process that provides a smart, 3D, and in some cases a 7D model of a building. Usually, BIM is used to create and design the building’s structure as well as its systems during design and its construction. All of the elements are interrelated with each other so that a change to one set of plans affects the rest of the elements.
This function can be taken a step further, and BIM a starting point for smart building projects. Once a building is up and running sensors can be installed in the building to track things like movement, patterns in energy consumption or even movement. The data that is gathered from this can be inputted in the system to be used in the analysis of future buildings.
Another use for IoT is in prefabricated building components. Prefab is faster and more cost effective compared to traditional building methods. It also produces less waste. The only problem is that when you use prefab for large projects, the process can become complex.
The IoT has helped solve this problem by using RFID sensors attached to individual prefab parts. In this way, the parts can be tracked when they move thru the supply chain. And, the data gathered was inputted into the BIM once the parts were installed so that the people in charge could see the real-time rendering and the could see if there were any errors before it even occurred. The Leadenhall building in London which was finished in 2014 is an example of this.
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