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Technology Innovations in Construction: Wearables

Gone are the days of workers on a construction site wearing only plain high-visibility vests and some steel-cap boots. We’re living in a day and age where technology has evolved immensely, and the construction industry is no different. One such aspect in the industry that has gained much traction is wearable technology.

With expectations that the wearable technology industry is to reach $4 billion by the end of 2017, it’s no surprise that some of this technology is moving towards the construction industry to help create a safer and more efficient workplace. Businesses should always be on the lookout for ways to stand out from the crowd, and wearable technology on the construction site could be one such way.

Data collection

As you may already be aware, there are many forms of wearable technology already on the market. Smartphones connected to wearables such as the Apple Watch and Samsung Gear and Fitbits have helped people to learn more about their bodies as they are tracked in real-time; their heart-rate, steps, movement, elevation levels and even stress levels. This type of tracking information may be helpful on the work site.

Integrating this information into safety hats or vests can give managers a better idea of the way their workers are feeling and provide a safer workplace for staff. Adding this technology into gear will not impact the worker and their daily routine, but can provide a lot of information on the health and safety of workers.

Providing a safer environment

Having access to real-time data of workers means managers will have a clearer idea of how their workers are tracking. Data such as body temperature and heart rate can help managers to keep a check on workers and help to render assistance in the event of an accident by tracking a workers’ vital signs. This quick response could result in saved lives when a worker is injured, or experiences a health event such as a heart attack or stroke.

Some wearables on the site also include real-time GPS location services. For example, a worker wearing a vest with a GPS will be able to be located by managers in the event of an incident or a hazard. For example, if an excavation site has a trench that unexpectedly collapses, the managers of the site would be able to track affected personnel quickly. Warning audio signals can also come in handy to alert workers of imminent dangers or to prevent collisions on site.

Better productivity levels

Just in the same way people wear technology to help with fitness levels, wearables on the construction site can help boost productivity levels. Data collected in wearables can help give important information such as movement tracking to give an impression of the most productive times of the day or movement repetition that could pose a potential risk. With this information, managers can look at optimising current practices and increase productivity.

An increase in communication and feedback

Two features that are set to take construction industry wearables to the next level are smart-glasses and virtual reality headsets. With 360-degree viewing and real-time communication, these technological pieces can help the construction industry to provide better communication between workers and management. By providing on-site feedback and instant communication, this can help to reduce the breakdown in communication that can often happen in many industries.

Smart-glasses have started to emerge in everyday life, such as the Google Glass. But, how can a pair of spectacles help when building a skyscraper or a new home in suburbia? Smart glasses may be the perfect piece of technology to help workers and managers work together to see a clear picture in front of their eyes of the plans and expectations for the project. In need of that blueprint to check that the next step is correct? These glasses can help with that. Although still a relatively new technology, and therefore a little on the pricey side, it’s an idea that can help to alleviate a lot of problems and miscommunications on the worksite.

Increased strength – better work

Although it seems like something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie, bionic suits and exoskeletons are also on the cards for the construction industry. These types of technologies are worn by the worker to help increase strength and endurance by helping the worker with manual labour tasks such as heavy lifting and moving of equipment.

With less physical effort required on the workers’ part, this means tasks can be completed in a shorter amount of time and in a safer way. With many workplace injuries being caused by arduous manual labour, these types of technologies can help a worker to be more productive in the current day and help to alleviate long-term health problems that could arise from their work.

Wearables are not far away

Technology is evolving every day, and wearable technology on the construction site has a very promising future. Many forms of this technology are already being used on sites across the world, and these numbers are increasing as technology becomes more available and affordable for companies. Hard hats and vest technology is relatively simple to implement today, but other technologies like exoskeletons and smart glasses could take a while before we see them on every site.

Of course, technology can still fail, no matter how good it is. Therefore, correct training and safety measures will still need to be in place. Combining your current skills and knowledge with technology can still help to increase productivity, safety and awareness between workers and managers.

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