Function over Fashion: IoT Wearables for Construction

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Numerous technologies are on the rise to make construction safer. Not only is IIoT protecting workers, but connected technologies improve construction efficiency and reduce costs for both companies and their clients. For these reasons, the market for IoT in the construction industry is expected to grow by nearly 40% from 2017 to 2024.

Worker Wearables

Wearables, such as belts, helmets or watches, can protect construction workers by monitoring health factors like heat exhaustion or fatigue. Connected through IIoT, these devices can warn wearers to take breaks, improving safety. They can also warn site managers if a worker slips or falls, improving response time.

Wearables can track worker movement and completed activities, especially valuable when site managers are working remotely. Wearables can remind workers of specific tasks that otherwise may be easy to forget, such as turning off the main power at the end of the day. Workers can also use the devices to alert site managers if any accidents occur or hazards are found on site, such as chemicals or gas.

Exoskeletons

A variety of exoskeletons are entering the construction industry. These metal frames work with the wearer to improve strength or reduce stress on the worker’s body. Some exoskeletons, such as ones used for back, arm, or leg support, may operate on simple pulley systems, requiring no batteries or power. Other exoskeletons, such as the power suit, use sensors to detect objects and accelerators to increase carry capacity. These machines help reduce stress injuries and improve a worker’s efficiency and ability to perform repetitive tasks.

Building Information Modeling

BIM is already a regular part of construction planning. The architect, contractor, heating and electrical engineers, plumber, mason and others involved on a project each have their own blueprint detailing their singular work. Through IoT, these plans are combined to create a 3D model where all the connecting parts can be seen together. In this way, any conflicts can be identified and corrected.

While traditionally used for efficiency between different parties, BIM can also be used for safety during construction. 3D simulations of a project allow for virtual safety walks through a site at any stage of construction. Potentially risky scenarios can be played out in digital format before putting workers at risk, and safety plans can be drafted well before construction starts.

As IIoT technology continues to grow in use, construction becomes a safer and more efficient industry.