IoT Tools for Construction Monitoring
Construction by its very nature operates in a noisy, dusty and hazardous environment.
So what are the uses of IoT technology in Construction?
Government and local councils are requiring that building sites be safer for workers, the general public and neighbouring properties. And given there is an increasing concern for the overall environment, works sites negatively impacting the environment can’t be ignored.
Now, new IoT sensors, mobile networks and cloud technology are stepping up to ensure that construction firms can implement IoT solutions quickly and efficiently to monitor and manage the impact of their worksites on staff, the general public, and the environment.
Key opportunities for sensors in the construction workplace
There are many areas construction businesses are using sensor technology to improve operations, including:
- Air quality monitoring for hazards including dust, noise, vibration and gasses.
- Ensure compliance to local regulations, resource consents and health guidelines.
- Protect against litigation or complaints of non-compliance or negligence.
- Ensure worker health and safety.
- Monitor potential adverse environmental impact.
All these areas have current solutions in place and these are continuously being updated.
Why Monitor a Worksite?
It is obvious to any neighbour that the ear-splitting sound of a concrete cutter in action is a nuisance and potentially hazardous to the health of anyone within earshot, although it’s relatively easy to monitor construction noise, what is less obvious is the impact of the dust raised by the cutter and blown onto neighbouring properties.
Dust particles, as well as being hazardous to a person’s lungs, can be abrasive, cause clogging of drains, or damage to adjacent properties. And less visible, but no less hazardous, noxious gasses such as Carbon Monoxide, Carbon Dioxide, can pool in low-lying or enclosed areas.
These are some examples of workplace harm, but important ones, as claims for illnesses such as silicosis arising from work on a building site, are driving the adoption of new workplace standards and legislation.
Noise is another area of concern. Auckland University research suggests that as many as 100,000 New Zealanders with hearing loss are related to workplace noise. Approximately 30% of New Zealand workers are exposed to loud noise at work at least a quarter of the time, mainly production workers in primary industries, construction, manufacturing and some transport and service sectors.
So, health and safety is one good reason to monitor noise, but protection from litigation is another. Keeping data on all hazards relating to the workplace is increasingly becoming essential for a major business to protect against complaints of negligence, or having exceeded resource consent limitations.
Continuous Monitoring of Hazards
Resource consents are increasingly placing limits on noise and requiring evidence of mitigation for potential environmental impact. International standards are used to manage these hazards, and most are covered at a local level by district authorities through their district plans and the RMA.
Many existing worksite sensor installations are based around compliance where construction sites have noise limits placed on them for different times of day. Continuous building site monitoring can alert site operations when noise limits are exceeded for example. Recording this data can be used as proof in case of complaints from neighbours. In one case a worksite was able to show Council that road noise was exceeding worksite noise after a complaint.
Vibration is another key area that needs constant monitoring. Vibration at different frequencies with different magnitudes, just like an earthquake, can badly damage concrete and other building materials. So a process such as piling might affect the building next door.
There have been sensors on the market for a long time, but they’re usually not live and they’re not online. Many vibration sensors for example, are seismic measuring devices that measure to an SD card or similar and they don’t alert users to an issue until data is downloaded two weeks later.
Continuous cloud-based vibration monitoring sensor technology can alert when you’re breaching a threshold of vibration instantly to either stop work, especially if it’s a serious issue, you can stop working, remediate or change operations to not breach those requirements.
Dust is another key area compliance-led area where continuous monitoring is becoming essential. Measurement of particles PM2.5, and PM10 are likely to become mandatory. Dust level monitoring sensors don’t identify the type of particle, but certainly warn when the volume of particles in the air exceed given standards – whether they’re silica, asbestos or diesel particulates.
Exhausts and gasses from generators, machinery or trucks can be dangerous, as are vapours from glues, sealers and treatments. So just being able to monitor that for the safety of the people on site, particularly to make sure that your staff are super healthy and not going to be affected by anything that you’re doing.
Weather also has a profound influence on contaminant dispersion and concentrations. For example, meteorological effects such as temperature inversions can dramatically increase contaminant levels as well. So, adding a weather station to any installation can ensure compliance, but also builds up a resource of data over time to understand how weather impacts other processes on the site.
All these factors are now continuously measurable with sensor units such as the Adroit Temperature, Humidity, Pressure, Dust (Pm), Noise (Db) And Vibration Monitoring Kit.
What Can We Measure?
- Noise Level Monitoring / Decibel Monitoring (dBA / LeqA)
- Air quality monitoring / Particulate Matter (PM1 / PM2. 5 / PM10)
- Construction Vibration Monitoring
- Temperature / Humidity /Atmospheric Pressure
- Wind / Rain / Solar Radiation
How it Works
While there are many areas of concern on a building site and many factors to measure, the good news is that multiple sensors can be included in one unit.
For example, the Adroit Temperature, Humidity, Pressure, Dust (Pm), Noise (Db) Kit covers most of the key workplace factors – and other items such as gasses and weather monitoring can be added as required.
The sensor units can be placed around the site – the number depends on site size, but approx. four per 100 sq m is a guide. Additional sensors can be placed within the site, enclosed areas or on vehicles for other measurements. The information is sent immediately to both the mobile application and the web platform so the user can check all environmental values in real-time.
These sensors use the Adroit Cloud Platform to upload data and present it to the client. Data can be visualised in real time as well as fed to other formats for record-keeping or analysis.
With all data sets, limits can be set and, if exceeded, alerts can be pushed to smart devices such as mobile phones or wearables.
How to Get Started
Like all great construction projects, all good installations start with a plan.
Key detail needed is:
- What you need for your resource consent
- Identified risks and hazards relating to site
- Vehicles or machinery that will be on site
- Data that would improve workplace operations
- What kind of reporting and alerting is required
- Who needs visibility of the data, when and how.