What is the Internet of Things (IoT)? You may have heard the phrase but don’t really know what it means. Don’t worry, it is much less complicated than you may think! This article defines the concept very simply as “taking all the things in the world and connecting them to the Internet.” These devices can then send or receive information and act on it. It has been years since the first IoT technologies made an appearance and now they are everywhere, including in the construction industry. Business Insider states that “there will be more than 41 billion IoT devices by 2027, up from about 8 billion in 2019.”
IoT is starting to become part of every aspect of the jobsite with the increasing use of GPS, RFID tags, Artificial Intelligence or wireless sensors to monitor field equipment. As mentioned in the article IoT Applications for the Construction Industry, “IoT makes it possible for every stakeholder to understand what’s happening at every stage of the construction process in real-time from planning to actual construction, post-construction and how the building is operated during service.” It doesn’t only come down to monitoring equipment, but to monitoring building materials. Within the last 10 years, engineers have developed sensors that monitor the properties of concrete as it cures. This has permitted field engineers and project managers to not only monitor concrete strength and temperature in real time, but to predict when they have reached the desired parameters. These capabilities, combined with the application of artificial intelligence, can make for an extremely smart construction site.
How Does Monitoring Concrete Strength with IoT Work?
Being able to connect to your equipment wirelessly is a tremendous advantage when it comes to monitoring concrete properties such as strength and temperature. It removes a lot of the pains that come along with traditional methods of ensuring your concrete has cured to the required strength. Some of these pains include protruding wires that are at risk of getting cut, lost equipment that is essential to data gathering, having to reserve project managers and field crew for regular rounds of gathering data from the many embedded thermocouples around the jobsite, and more.
IoT concrete strength sensors, like SmartRock® are equipped with wireless technology that allow you to eliminate the need for expensive data loggers that are easily lost or damaged. By inviting field personnel to a secure app, these wireless sensors allow anyone with a smartphone in their pocket to connect, read data, and send it to project managers and engineers, already analyzed, whether or not they are on site. What’s more important, is that these wireless sensors allow you to read and share data in real time at any point in the concrete curing cycle. Sensors read temperature and strength every 15 minutes and store it on an internal memory that is automatically loaded to the app as you walk around the jobsite with your app-enabled device.
How AI is Used in Construction
As with many IoT technologies, SmartRock sensors have the ability to work together with other devices to make your jobsite even smarter. Roxi™ was the first artificial intelligence program for concrete testing. This program was built to collect the data from SmartRock sensors and detect possible errors in concrete maturity calibrations and mix proportions. Roxi can also make suggestions, which are always improving through the millions of data points it has access to.
How Do Project Managers Benefit From IoT Concrete Strength Sensors?
Instead of either going on the jobsite and gathering information themselves, or having one of the field workers gather the information, downloading the data to a computer in the field office, exporting it and emailing it, field workers simply need to connect the app to the sensors and data is automatically shared with managers within the project. It is seamlessly uploaded to the cloud, where it is stored, backed up, and accessible to project managers, engineers and anyone who is given access. This gives engineers and project managers the ability to focus their energy on properly reading and analyzing the data and managing projects to ensure optimal outcomes.
Moreover, SmartRock sensors can also connect and send information to SmartHub™, a remote monitoring system. The system allows you to access your SmartRock sensor data at anytime, from anywhere. The Hub automatically collects this data and uploads it to the Gitec 360 cloud dashboard via LTE/Wi-Fi where it is synced to your team’s mobile devices in the SmartRock app. These are just two examples within our company of how IoT-based technologies can work together to improve efficiency. Our research team continues to develop technologies that work together to revolutionize concrete testing!
The IoT and new technology is everywhere nowadays. Although the construction industry has been known to be a slow adopter of technology, projects everywhere are adopting higher technology to facilitate projects and ensure safety and reliability. It may be tempting to continue using the testing methods you are comfortable with and waiting until it is absolutely necessary to make the switch. However, don’t discount the competitive advantage technology can give you as a contractor, ready-mix supplier, or project owner. A study by Harvard Business Review states that “there is a correlation between the early adoption of new technologies and better business outcomes.” This is often referred to as the “first-mover advantage.” In a growing market, it is increasingly valuable to be able to offer something unique to potential clients. The accuracy and efficiency of IoT-based technology can provide clients or partners with peace-of-mind and a sense of enthusiasm to work with you.