It’s no secret that it’s much easier to create heat than to remove heat, which is probably why no one has created a “reverse microwave” yet. It’s also one reason why there is only a small amount of clothing and accessories built around cooling people off outdoors, especially those who work in the construction industry. Sure, you can install some fans around the job site, but they only help workers when it’s blowing directly at them. Now, a Japanese company is releasing their personal cooling jackets and hard hat fans to US customers and targeting the construction industry.
Zippkool, invented by Japanese manufacturer SFT Laboratory Co. Ltd, is making its American debut in May at the National Hardware Show 2016 in Las Vegas, which runs from May 4-6. The cooling jackets are powered by a lithium-ion battery, which can run the cooling fans inside the jacket for up to 20 hours on a single charge. Using two fans, which are located at the lower back, air is pushed through the jacket simultaneously cooling your body and evaporating sweat. That jacket will add a little weight obviously, since there are extra components. The two fans together weigh just over 7.05 oz, which is less than half of a pound and the battery will add additional weight, but that amount has not been released.
There are currently 5 different versions of the cooling jacket to choose from:
BP-500N – long sleeve, 100% polyester, cuts 99% UV, meant for outdoor use
BPN-500N – long sleeve, titanium coated polyester, blocks 92% IR heat and cuts 99% UV, meant for outdoor use
BPF-500N – Roughly the same as the BPN-500, but includes a hood
BM-500U – long sleeve, cotton jacket, meant for indoor use
BMK-500U – short sleeve, cotton jacket, meant for indoor or outdoor use
The main challenge with these jackets are the bulkiness, because, as you can imagine, blowing air inside a jacket makes you look like a balloon that’s ready to pop. Creating greater surface area can set a worker up for getting snagged on plenty of job site hazards, so it remains to be seen how well these jackets can hold up to the rigors of a typical job site. But, as you saw in the descriptions above, the outdoor jackets also provide an extra benefit, besides the cooling: UV protection. Construction workers are at one of the highest risks of getting skin cancer, due to the long hours worked in the sun and our general aversion to using un-macho sunscreen.
For those who may not be interested in a fairly cumbersome, upper body cooling system, the company is also releasing a hard hat fan, which is attached to a polyester neck cover. As opposed to the cooling jackets, the hard hat fan will be powered by a Nickel Hydride battery pack, which you can clip to your belt. It’s not cordless, either, which is probably better on your neck, but leaves you to deal with a cord wrapped around your body.
What do you think? Would you use a cooling jacket on your job site?
Almost two years after they announced the release of their Bluetooth Battery that allowed owners to remotely monitor battery life and even disable the battery if it’s stolen, DeWalt is set to release a massive upgrade to their connected tool platform.
There’s no shortage of company’s trying to improve the world’s roadways. Asphalt and concrete each have their own disadvantages, especially when maintenance environmental factors are taken into consideration. Plastic is a major problem for landfills, as well, as it can take an estimated 500 years to fully decompose. One UK company believes they can solve both maintenance and environmental problems through the use of recycled plastic.
Feeling the pressure of 9 straight quarters with a decline in total revenue, Caterpillar has acquired the equipment sharing startup, Yard Club, to get help dig themselves out of the dirt. Their most recent quarter was the company’s first positive revenue quarter since November of 2012.
I’m a firm believer that before robots start taking over construction jobs, we’ll first be working with robotics to make workers more efficient and our job sites more functional. Instead of using 3D printing robots to build an entire project, why not use them first to create intricate details and bring character back to buildings? Instead of pushing human labor out of the way, why not use robotics to enhance the abilities of our workers, to improve their health and productivity? With rise in development commercial exoskeletons, workers will soon be able to harness additional strength by just slipping on a suit.
Last year, Tesla announced a new disruptive product to the market in the form of solar roof shingles. Unlike traditional solar roof panels, these shingles mimic the look of traditional terra cotta, clay, and slate tiles, creating a more aesthetically pleasing look. This week, the company began taking pre-orders for the roof shingles and also released a cost calculator.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is constantly researching ways to improve construction process and materials, like this material 10 times the strength of steel, or this solar cell that’s lighter than a soap bubble, or this “reversible concrete.” This time the Institute is showing off its autonomous robot that can spit out building structures on site within hours.
Tracking employees instantaneously is a dream scenario for employers. It gives them tons of data to analyze to determine where money can be saved and where resources can be placed to be most efficient. The struggle is convincing the employees that tracking their every move is not going to get them in trouble or fired. There’s a balance in there somewhere and that’s the challenge facing both employers and tech companies right now.
Two of the most critical concepts of construction safety are the ability to see what you’re doing and to also be seen by others around you. Construction workers rely heavily on their employer providing lighting systems when working in low light conditions, but those systems are not always adequate.
There’s no doubt that the construction industry is behind when it comes to technology, but things are beginning to change. In the past few years, our industry has seen millions of dollars poured into new technology, including smartphone apps, advanced construction materials, and advanced safety equipment. One of the struggles –and perhaps the main struggle- with introducing new technology to the field staff is that many of them have been managing their jobs the same way for a long time. It can be difficult to convince them to change, especially if they have been successful with their current process.