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Digital at Site: 4 Development Technologies That are Just Gaining Momentum

27 Oct 2022

The construction industry is traditionally considered to be quite conservative: a large amount of manual labor and never stopping new input during the execution of work create obstacles to the full digitalization of processes. Nevertheless, in recent years there have been significant changes in this direction.

Dmitriy Vishnyakov, Managing Director, Pridex, talks about technologies that are already beginning to be actively used in construction of various real estate units and how they can be useful.
  • Dmitriy Vishnyakov

    Managing Director, Pridex

Smart Bands: Not Only for Fitness

It is quite possible that within the space of ten years, most of the equipment of a worker on a construction site will become "smart": smart helmets, smart shoes, etc. In the meantime, all this looks somewhat more modest, but still promising — in our case we will talk about smart bands.

They work as follows: each device is equipped with several sensors, such as an accelerometer, HR monitor, pedometer, temperature sensor, GPS tracker, etc., and also has a data collection module, which is then transmitted to a single analytics system. As a result, we can get a fairly large layer of information about the daily activity of the staff, which gives us a number of advantages.

Firstly, this allows us to increase the level of security at the facility: the band will warn about entering dangerous or prohibited areas, help control the level of fatigue and stress, and also promptly inform if one of the employees gets injured.

Secondly, the device is able to determine the location by floors and zones on the floor — something like Yandex. Maps for buildings (although, of course, it will not be possible to get a geo-location with an accuracy of a meter). This function is more important than it may seem at first glance: when several thousand people are involved in the construction process, understanding who is where and whether this particular team should be working here at the moment will help save a lot of time and resources.

However, the most interesting function of these bands is as follows: thanks to the large number of analyzed parameters, we can classify the activity of workers by various types of actions, and get average performance indicators for painters, plasterers, bricklayers, etc. This allows for creation of an additional motivation system in the form of bonuses for the most active employees based on objective data.

Over the past year, we have been able to see from our own experience that this approach works: at the moment, we have utilized the technology at two facilities, where more than 1,000 people are employed in total. During the work with the use of bands, the activity of the staff increased by an average of 15%; the highest indicators were demonstrated by painters — up to 25%.
Умные браслеты: не только для фитнеса

Augmented Reality: Combining a 3D Model with a Real Object

Many people surely have heard about the active introduction of information modeling technologies (Building Information Modeling, or BIM) in construction. In short, BIM allows you to create a detailed 3D model of a building, saturated with data about each of its elements, including dimensions, material, cost, grade, etc. However, not everyone knows that on the basis of the technology, tools are already being implemented that allow you to "superimpose" a 3D model on a real object and compare the project with its physical realization.

As a rule, such solutions are a specialized device — for example, a tablet or glasses, — on which you can use AR to see where utility lines that have not yet been laid will pass, whether there are all the necessary holes for them, etc. In addition to the device itself and the relevant software, you will also need a network of graphic labels that are placed directly on the construction site and allow the system to embed the model into the surrounding space.

How can this be useful? The very appearance of BIM is due to the need to reduce the number of errors in the construction process, to learn how to identify and eliminate any inconsistencies in a timely manner in order to reduce the cost of fixes and ensure strict compliance with deadlines. And although information modeling has reduced the probability of errors in the design of buildings to almost zero, the problems that arise at the stage of project implementation have been still there and their search is still manual work.

This is exactly what augmented reality is needed for — to clearly demonstrate how much the work actually done corresponds to what was provided for by the project. This may be an incorrectly installed support column or an air duct hole made a few centimeters to the left than necessary — even a small miscalculation can have serious consequences if it is not noticed in time.

Of course, at the moment such solutions have a number of disadvantages that make it difficult to use them widely. The most important of them is the accuracy of combining the model with the real picture: the correctness of the superposition may be compromised when moved away from the label, and the specialist using the system will have to resort to manual adjustment. In addition, even if you see that in reality a certain element is not located exactly in the place where it should be according to the 3D model, you most likely will not be able to measure this error using the device — again, because of the accuracy of the superposition. Nevertheless, this technology literally has great potential and I am sure that in the near future its popularity in the market will grow.

Mobile Construction: Everything You Need in One App

Today, almost every specialist at a construction site uses a smartphone for a variety of purposes: from viewing a project design or photographing completed work to setting tasks and exercising full construction control through specialized applications. However, there is also space for development here: there are not enough tools in the market that can cover most of the construction needs in a single window mode by combining data from various accounting systems — 1C, PlanRadar, etc. Therefore, large construction companies are increasingly thinking about creating their own mobile applications.

I would single out three types of tasks, the solution of which is now the most in demand:
  • 1
    Ordering, acceptance and consumption of construction materials. Late delivery and a long procedure for accepting materials, as well as a large number of reports on their consumption, can significantly shift the completion dates of construction. In many ways, these problems are associated with the high workload of foremen, whose area of responsibility includes the above functions. Being on the construction site most of the time, foremen do not always have the opportunity to simply return to the working computer in order, for example, to order the missing materials. Some mobile solutions partially cover these needs, however, if you give workers the opportunity to independently make purchase requests through the application, provide all invoices with QR codes for scanning using a smartphone, etc., then the process will definitely go faster;
  • 2
    Interaction with subcontractors. Any large construction company works with dozens of subcontractors. Therefore, no matter how high-quality the mobile solution you use, you will not be able to fully manage the construction site with its help if the contractors are not in a single loop with you. The obvious problem here is that the companies you cooperate with are unlikely to want to give you such a large amount of their own data — it is necessary to maintain a balance between the effectiveness of interaction and confidentiality.
  • 3
    Prompt receipt of information on the progress of work. In general, this point follows from the previous two and is intended primarily for management: the application should aggregate data in such a way that the manager can form a complete picture of what is happening on the construction site in real time.
If we talk about the experience of our company, so far we are only at the initial stage of implementing this idea, but some large residential developers are already actively using their own mobile solutions to successfully cope with the above tasks.
Мобильная стройка: всё необходимое в одном приложении

Video Analytics: Identifying System Flaws Using Machine Learning

Video analytics is an expensive but effective tool for monitoring the progress of work on the site. It has long been used in industry — for example, to monitor those aspects of production where an employee must perform strictly defined repetitive actions following the instructions. Now video analytics is gradually coming to the construction industry.

The solution is a network of cameras located at the facility that use machine learning algorithms. The system continuously analyzes the video stream, recognizing and classifying the actions of people, as well as objects in the frame, and reports any deviations — depending on the scenarios embedded in it, "deviations" can be very different.

What is it for? Firstly, for monitoring compliance with safety regulations: the camera is able to detect, for example, a worker with no helmet or gloves when performing potentially dangerous work. However, the option of assessing the type of actions a person is performing at a particular moment and for how long they are doing it is much more interesting. The importance of such a function is not at all connected with the tightening of discipline, as many people might have thought — it is primarily aimed at identifying systemic problems.

For example, in recent days, workers have begun to spend significantly more time at the warehouse than usual. The situation could be repeated further, but thanks to video analytics, we can quickly pay attention to it and, upon closer examination, detect shortcomings in the organization of the issuance of materials that are the cause of delays. There is nothing to do but work out possible options for optimizing the process.
Source: rb.ru

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