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By Karen Edwards, RT3
Construction and roofing companies adopted technology over the last year at a lightning pace. What normally would have been implemented over a three-year cycle was condensed into just a nine-month span according to JLL’s State of Construction Technology Report.
Here are some of the fastest-growing technologies in construction.
Digital Collaboration Tools. The use of digital tools has enabled the industry to reduce the number of people on jobsites for preconstruction meetings, subcontractor coordination planning and jobsite walkthroughs. More projects are relying on virtual inspections and tours that can be performed by just one or two people onsite, with the rest of the team able to participate via their smartphone, tablet or laptop.
In a recent Tech Talk for RT3 members, Tadd Labozzetta from Triax Technologies noted that they are seeing a rise in the use of digital collaboration tools that allow people to communicate efficiently outside of traditional email platforms. Examples include platforms such as Slack, Trello and Asana. A large reason for this growth is due to the need for remote workers to be able to work together on projects despite not being in the office.
Remote Scanning. Beyond the standard safety guidelines of handwashing, mask wearing and social distancing, more jobsites are implementing the use of touchless temperature scanners that can check workers temperatures before they enter the jobsite. These scanners are mounted at points of entry and can quickly measure and display a temperature reading for workers. An elevated reading may mean a worker is potentially COVID-19 positive and the quick scan prevents that person from entering the jobsite.
Other methods of scanning on construction project sites include the use of mounted cameras, often in combination with laser scanners, to provide visual overviews of worksites and to track job progress. Software analyzes and tracks the data that is delivered through a visualization tool, allowing the viewer to virtually evaluate the site.
Wearable Technology. Keeping workers safe on the jobsite is always a top priority for construction and roofing companies. It has become more challenging with the need to know exactly where workers are on the jobsite at any given time due to the need to monitor exposure and contact trace in the event of a worker testing positive for COVID-19.
More companies are turning to wearable technology in the form of a clip-on device that is attached to a belt or vest. These devices use radio frequency to monitor the worker’s location on the job site as well as the amount of time that they spend in a specific location. This allows for easy identification of workers who may have been exposed to a person who has tested positive. During the RT3 Tech Talk, Labozzetta shared the need for wearable solutions to be built specifically for construction sites saying that standard off-the-shelf solutions are often not practical in construction environments.
“When it comes to construction we are working with heavy, complex materials like metals, concrete, and hardwood,” explained Labozzetta. “These materials can throw off Bluetooth reception and make it difficult to use wi-fi repeaters.”
Triax Technologies solution relies on the use of 900 MHz radio frequency to avoid the problems that can arise from Bluetooth or wi-fi. The solution has been around for several years to enhance worker safety and is now finding new uses in the fight against the coronavirus. Traditional uses include issuing alerts if a worker is nearing a leading edge or if someone attempts to operate a piece of equipment that they are not qualified or authorized to use.
As technology continues to improve and evolve, the costs become more affordable for many contractors. Expect to see more projects requiring the use of scanners and wearables for overall jobsite safety. Subcontractors should be working the costs of these technologies into their project estimates.
Many of the technology companies that supply these tools are now offering leasing options in addition to an outright purchase that can make it more affordable if the tools are only needed for a short-term project. Once you get a taste of these tools and realize the extent of what they can do for the safety and efficiency of your team on every project, you may want to consider adding them to your standard operating practices for every jobsite.