One of the great technological innovations of our time has been the connectivity of everything. Objects become more than just objects when they’re capable of going online, which enables them to collect millions of data points and store them in an unseen cloud storage solution, intelligently analyze that data and extract useful information, all without human intervention.
That connectivity is what underpins the smart jobsite, and its ubiquity today is what has thrown the doors open for its emergence, and for technologies that offer improved profitability, safety and efficiency to make their way into the industry.
Triax, a Procore partner, started out six years ago creating network platforms for challenging IT environments. The company’s first product was a sensor system that collected injury data from athletes for concussion management. They soon realized that technology would have applications in the construction realm, and set out to solve jobsite connectivity in a way that enabled them to bring Internet of Things devices into their network.
“First and foremost, it starts with connectivity at the jobsite. That was one of the biggest challenges in the past, having solutions that could scale across multiple jobsites; every job is different, and having a network technology that could communicate reliably on those environments was a challenge, as well as having something that would be low maintenance. That’s what we focused on solving,” said Chad Hollingsworth, CEO and Co-founder of Triax Technologies.
Once a jobsite is connected, devices and sensors can be added to the network to keep better track of workers and equipment, which has both safety and efficiency ramifications.
“Everyone knows the construction industry could benefit from being a little leaner, operating more profitably or more effectively. That comes through collecting data on where your assets are. Where your workers or equipment are.
“That’s what’s starting to happen as well, it’s not just safety driven, it’s trying to make better use of those dollars you spend on labor, which can be 40-50% of your job costs,” Hollingsworth said.
The Spot-r Clip from Triax is a device worn by workers which connects to the Spot-r network. Not only does the device automate worker attendance and monitor location, it has emergency fall detection which rapidly generates notifications to supervisors in the event of an injury.
“Simple things like knowing who was on site for how long and where wasn’t really available before. The way it’s been done and is still largely done is with a pencil and paper and clipboard and updating a whiteboard in a trailer,” said Hollingsworth. “It’s very time consuming, it’s very inaccurate. But it’s also very critical to understand where people are and what they’re doing.
“Once you have that data and automate it into systems like Procore, you save users time, which frees up some of their day to focus on other things like getting the job done.”
Introducing new technologies to a construction crew should be done in a specific way, and Hollingsworth says it’s best done when you have enthusiastic firm support from people who understand the technology and genuinely see its potential.
“Most of our clients want to do a limited pilot on a real site, and we encourage that, but we also encourage they have a group that’s really interested in the technology that’s running the site to take ownership of it,” Hollingsworth said.
“What doesn’t work is when companies get the oldest most disgruntled superintendent who hates technology and say if it works for him it’ll work for everybody. What works best is finding someone who can become a champion within your organization.”
Hollingsworth says it’s relatively early days for the smart jobsite, but that its has a bright future in the $10 trillion construction industry.
“What’s really exciting about the construction industry having a smart jobsite is it’s one of the biggest industries in the world. The environment in which the work is done has had very little data collected on it. Now that you have the ability to scale networks across the job easily and collect data, it’s going to unlock an amazing amount of information that’s really going to help drive profitability, efficiency and safety. That’s tremendously exciting when you’re dealing with a $10 trillion industry and the potential savings this could have for all the stakeholders.”