Connected technologies are all around and are helping construction teams share data faster than ever before. As applications advance, contractors that understand the different areas connected devices can help are in a better position to manage business more effectively. This includes everything from fleet tracking in the field to keeping on an eye on materials at the jobsite.

One of the first areas many construction companies look to get connected is GPS and telematics on vehicles. The benefits of this technology are varied: knowing where equipment is in order to better manage logistics, being able to combat theft, understanding metrics such as fuel consumption, and even being alerted to when a repair needs to be made, among many others. But there are so many other areas connected devices can help on the jobsite.

On-Site Tracking
The benefits of using connected technologies for tool and equipment tracking are quite clear: no more misplaced hammers and better use of inventory. Through the use of RFID (radio-frequency identification), construction teams are finding connected tools are in high demand.

In May, ToolWatch Corp., www.toolwatch.com, Englewood, Colo., announced the London Crossrail C-310 Thames Tunnel project will use the ToolWatch Enterprise Suite to track heavy equipment, machinery, vehicles, and tools, as well as monitor equipment schedules and fuel consumption.

As the largest construction project currently in Europe and the U.K., the need to keep the project on track and on budget is essential. Being able to use technology such as that from ToolWatch will allow the team to know where vehicles and tools are located—ensuring nothing is lost and equipment is being used as effectively as possible.

When it comes to materials management on the jobsite, RFID is commonly referenced as a way to keep track of concrete slabs, valves, or panels of glass. But a few new methods for managing materials have come to light as of late.

In a FIATECH, www.fiatech.org, Austin, Texas, Webinar on July 31, Man-Woo Park, a student at Georgia Institute of Technology, www.gatech.edu, Atlanta, Ga., discussed vision-based tracking of construction entities, which includes workers, equipment, and materials.  Using on-site construction cameras, multiple objects can be tracked.

Through the use of the technology, contractors can view items at the jobsite in realtime and track whereabouts. This serves two primary purposes. First, by tracking workers, managers can improve safety on a jobsite. Also, by tracking materials, construction teams can improve productivity.

Another emerging area is reverse RFID for indoor navigation. RFID tags can be place on a building to track labor and safety on a jobsite. While this concept is still coming to fruition, it is one that will likely play a role in construction in the years to come.

Through the Lifecycle
Another area in which connected tech is making an impact is with ongoing maintenance and management of a facility. Carnegie Mellon, www.cmu.edu, Pittsburgh, Pa., is testing and developing technology that will help create a more modern technology network to monitor and manage buildings and infrastructure.

As an example, the sensors installed on piping can collect key data and metrics, allowing users to make realtime decisions about failing infrastructure. Interested in learning more about the research being done at Carnegie Mellon? Check out the July/Aug issue of Constructech magazine.

For the industry, this is the future of technology in construction and operations of facilities. But while the talk of tablets, smartphones, and other connected devices at the jobsite have been widely talked about, does the industry truly understand the task at hand in terms of managing data using these devices?

At this year’s Technology Day event, which will take place on October 5 at the San Mateo Marriott in California, an interactive workshop will dive into the world of connected devices as it relates to the construction industry, helping contractors formulate a plan for getting and staying connected. Learn more or register for this event today.