Simon Keam-George, CEO at Enigma Telematics, reveals how ‘digital engineers’ are shaking up the construction industry via the Internet of Things (IoT).
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OPINION Construction projects are becoming increasingly complex and expensive, putting managers under pressure to improve costs and efficiency wherever they can. As a result, we’re seeing an increasing number of construction companies incorporate IoT into their daily activities, all with the aim of boosting productivity, reducing complexity, eliminating delays, and enhancing safety and quality.
The switch to software platforms that provide real-time monitoring of a project and the machinery being used is central to this transformation.
Equipped with these digital platforms, engineers can dramatically enhance how a project is delivered, all the while easily communicating with remote construction workers and maintenance crews, improving decision-making, streamlining planning, and ensuring on-the-job training becomes easier to measure.
What is a digital engineer?
The bridge connecting digital tools and the physical construction site is the digital engineer who has the tools and knowledge to translate all the data available to them.
This can include site location, road connections, how construction equipment is being used, historical data, utilities, as well as telematics data from vehicles, plant machinery, and construction equipment. Using this information, they must make sure projects remain on track.
By digitising engineering processes and building a digital engineering workforce, construction companies strengthen site security, improve organisational governance and ensure regulatory compliance.
How IoT is boosting construction safety and security
Security and safety is always a major priority for construction companies. The abundance of risks on site and the risk of civil and criminal liability mean it can never be overlooked.
There are a growing number of applications that give digital engineers greater control and the ability to minimise operational risk. For example, telematics solutions allow managers to remotely control who can operate machinery via intelligent ID cards linked to each asset. This ensures that only specially trained or accredited workers can use some pieces of equipment, which improves health and safety standards and helps prevent potential accidents.
Site managers can also easily track the exact location of each piece of machinery and set alarms to warn them when equipment is moved beyond set boundaries. They can also remotely immobilise certain assets.
Alongside this, telematics solutions enable businesses to save time and resources by overseeing working hours and reducing equipment wear and tear.
Engineers can proactively manage maintenance schedules to prevent downtime by monitoring all pieces of machinery remotely. As construction companies usually manage multiple projects at any given time, this is a particularly useful capability; engineers don’t have to respond in person to every minor problem and can see whether any potential issue needs to be escalated. They can then coordinate with the closest maintenance team and solve the problem in the shortest time possible.
This is just one example of the numerous streamlined back-office systems that automate and simplify internal processes and increase overall organisational efficiency. Engineers are essentially free to focus their energy on more important activities, such as moving projects forward and delivering on targets.
It is vital that construction companies meet the requirements set out by regulatory and governmental bodies, as well as the social expectations of those purchasing a completed construction.
Engineers with efficient tracking and control systems for CO2 emissions are more likely to comply with relevant laws and regulations. Until recently this was a critical challenge for most engineers, but with the help of digital tools, such as telematics, these aspects are significantly easier to forecast and manage.
Committing to IoT in construction
Of course, the journey to this next-generation operating model is not always easy. Although an increasing number of construction firms have deployed software tools for multiple use cases, many fail to obtain full value from them.
Among the reasons behind a lack of noticeable improvements from these initiatives are insufficient commitment, difficult company-wide rollouts, and lack of compatibility with legacy systems.
This is where digital engineers can play a crucial role in helping their companies reap the benefits of digital transformation. Educating their organisations about the gains of incorporating automation and innovative solutions into construction systems is a crucial step along the way.
As technology evolves and automation becomes more prevalent in all industries, digital solutions will become a must for construction companies that want to keep up with changing site management and uncertainty in the market. It’s up to forward-thinking digital engineers to find and promote the tools that can revolutionise the way their company manages projects and measures performance.
Internet of Business says: This opinion piece has been provided by the vendor and not by our independent editorial team.
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