We have a lot of safety rules in construction and it’s practically impossible to monitor your job site for compliance of every single rule. To complicate matters, many rules are based upon exposure limits, especially when airborne particles are involved. OSHA recently reduced the allowable exposure limit of silica dust, which is found in concrete, stone, and brick, before additional PPE or engineering controls are required. This rule change has caused a lot of grief among construction industry groups, who called the rule technologically infeasible, because what contractor is really set up to measure when 50 micrograms of silica dust per cubic meter of air is actually reached?
One UK tech company believes that they have the solution to the industry’s problem, with a product called SmartSIte. Not only can it measure particulate exposure, it also measures UV radiation and noise levels. All you have to do is set up the cylinder on site, which looks a lot like a small hazardous waste canister that you’d find in a comic book, and the tool gathers data in the background. Better yet, the program will actually alert the workers in the area of impending exposure limits, so that they can take action before the limits are reached. It also monitors individual worker presence in the area through the use of a small worker ID card.
Smartsite is currently in beta testing and plans to start shipping the product in early 2017. No pricing information has been released yet. As far as health and safety of construction workers goes, this looks to be an extremely promising product. For the first time, construction companies will be able to gather and analyze data to truly take worker safety in the realm of dust and noise exposure seriously. It will take the guess work out of PPE use and, hopefully, limit the long term health effects of our important labor force. By being able to show workers how much they’re potentially damaging their body, it will make it so much easier to convince them to actually put on the safety gear, which can be uncomfortable and annoying at times.
The SmartsSite technology isn’t the only technology product that’s going to make our job sites safer, either. Virginia Tech is developing a smart safety vest which will alert workers if an object is approaching too quickly (like a vehicle), CAT has developed software that can determine the fatigue of heavy equipment operators, and even hard hats are getting smarter with the DAQRI augmented reality smart helmet.
Check out the video below which gives an overview of SmartSite.
Remote sites have extreme challenges, like finding enough staff to work the jobs and being able to get materials to the site. Large mining operations have turned to self-driving dump trucks, like this 320 Ton mega machine, for a few years now. But, Lockheed Martin, a giant in the world of global security and aerospace, has a different solution for remote sites.
3D printing technology faces major issues when it is required to leave the shelter of a warehouse and step foot on a construction job site. 3D printers are extremely large, heavy, and rely on precise calibration for accuracy. Even the first 3D printed office building in Dubai, which was completed last year, had to actually have its components printed off site and assembled on site. But, Apis Cor, a 3D printing company, believes it has created the technology to print a full structure completely on site.
Road construction is rarely an ideal place for many things. It’s unsafe for workers, it causes traffic issues, and nearby businesses can suffer from it. One more thing can be added to the list, as self-driving cars are also having a hard time navigating construction zones, as well.
In the construction world, 3D printing technology has traditionally focused on buildings and other static structures, like this 3D printed bridge in Madrid, Spain. Not anymore, though, as the world’s first 3D printed excavator was officially unveiled to the attendees at last week’s CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017 in Las Vegas.
Augmented reality on construction job sites has been a focus of several technology companies in recent years. As of now the clear leaders in the category have been the DAQRI smart helmet and glasses and the MIcrosoft Hololens. Early this year, DAQRI introduced their new smart glasses, which are the lighter and more mobile version of their fully protective smart hard hat. The new DAQRI product is a clear competitor for Microsoft’s Hololens, which is also a smart headset product. Backed by the powerful construction technology company Trimble and in a partnership with the University of Cambridge, the Hololens is getting tested with 2 new concepts specifically for the construction industry: Automated Progress Monitoring and Automated Bridge Damage Detection.
The concept of a bubble has surprisingly inspired many designers within the construction industry in recent years. There’s the inflatable bubble building in Shanghai that is supposed to help air and light quality, the inflatable tunnel that will protect pedestrians and business during road construction in Canada, and even a solar cell that was created to be lighter than a soap bubble. We can now add Binishells to our list.
Construction workers work long hours in some pretty rough exterior conditions a lot of the time and there’s no doubt that fatigue is a major factor in job site accidents. In recent years, we’ve seen a few technological advances that will either reduce worker fatigue or sense it, including robotic attachments, lighter and less vibratory power tools, and camera systems on CAT machines that sense when drivers are closing their eyes too much. Recently, a company out of Australia has been developing a smart hard hat that sensors when mental fatigue has set in.
3D printed construction has been on top of the news the past few years, but we have yet to truly see many real world applications of the process. Last year, Dubai unveiled a completed 3D printed office building, which they say was built in only 19 days, but news has been pretty slow until the world’s first 3D printed bridge was completed recently.
As consistent and strong as wood, concrete, and steel have been for the past centuries, researchers and scientists are continually trying to improve them or create a better replacement product. Many have tried, but none have yet to succeed on a large scale. The latest scientific breakthrough takes a look at the geometry of a structure, rather than simply the material itself.