From helping workers interconnect to predicting structural durability, wireless devices are a no-brainer technology for the entire construction hierarchy—if construction owners are serious about up-scaling productivity.

As with most construction technologies, wireless communication technology is being tested in all its shapes and sizes. 

The lingering issue of slow tech adoption has pre-dominantly led companies to doubt its effectiveness, because of the upfront costs and efforts needed to run it at scale. But with wireless devices increasingly becoming common, higher-ups in construction projects are forced to avoid shirking responsibility when testing them out as most would reveal dismal results yielded by archaic project design and delivery methods.

It’s every bit as crucial to stay open to changes, especially in industries notorious of brushing custom-defying developments under the carpet. An interconnected world of today can’t survive on the auspices of the past. The poignant self-help advice of “letting go when it’s time” invariably applies to this sector when you clearly see how releasing control and allowing smart technology to do its job empowers your bottom lines.

Taken together, these five wireless construction technologies have proved to benefit construction activities from structural design to the tiniest mechanical fix.

Wireless Construction Technology#1: Wireless Concrete Sensors 

Equipping jobsites with wireless sensors isn’t a decision owners make often but it has certainly intrigued engineers and contractors. Their applications are vast and vary by the project. So it isn’t always easy to make a business case for onboarding this technology unless key stakeholders fully articulate its benefits in tandem with project scope and requirements. 

Down to the basics: sensors embedded in concrete help monitor its structural and material properties—one of the most essential factors in setting project costs and projecting the longevity and stability of the structure being built over a specified period. Material costs have surged by leaps and bounds, beyond the estimation of the most skilled engineers, which has caused contractors to overhaul activities if they’ve fallen prey to lacklustre decisions.

Here’s where sensors take the very costly guesswork out of material buying—they detect issues early on such as:

  • Deterioration of compounds
  • Corrosion of steel 
  • Diminished performance due to freeze-thaw cycles
  • Cement erosion and moisture-ridden hardened concrete

Prior critical assessment of concrete and other building materials prevents inadvertent harms along the construction process. Smart sensors aren’t everyone’s cup of tea since they need to be operated and maintained with great care and detail that needs ongoing training for workers. Contractors aren’t always sold on running training drills considering that projects are held to strict timelines. This is a major setback for incorporating wireless sensors on the jobsite given that their advantages get unfairly sidelined in a bid to move work faster.

In the end, it’s up to the project stakeholders to understand whether business needs can be met better with or without sensors, as many small-scale projects may not have the resources to sustain sensors as a continuing solution.

Making failure-proof concrete is a big feat especially now as real-time data grows bigger in influence. Traditional monitoring and communication systems limit data tracking which is detrimental in a world where environmental adversities lurk and strike anytime. Utilizing smart sensors helps track relative humidity, moisture, strength, and pH levels in concrete that can easily form cracks and affect structural integrity during natural disasters. Having data that informs at the right time about possible deformities results in months of misguided works saved while optimizing budgets. 

Wireless Construction Technology #2: Internet of Things Empower Wireless Networks

The rise of the Internet of Things has prepared the construction industry to do what it never could—interact with data over a high-speed network. Paired with wireless devices, IoT has enabled smarter design builds to make their way into construction processes through wireless sensor networks (WSN) embedded within construction sites. This has birthed a whole new era of construction: wireless construction. Improving processes from the ground up, IoT technologies, when integrated with construction project delivery methods, have provided safer, smarter, and more interactive infrastructure.

Smart cities around the world have adopted IoT-powered networks to address administration-related and public infrastructure-related concerns. Singapore and Barcelona are leading smart cities already running initiatives in transportation, health care, lighting, and managing public-safety services, offering a model for other countries to follow suit.

Wireless Construction Technology #3: Wireless Equipment Sensors

Wireless sensors outfitted on equipment streamline their maintenance and performance levels. Performance data educates handlers on potential risks of operating old equipment and plan appropriate replacements without hindering work progress. This cuts the time spent by workers to test average-functioning equipment and can be redirected to productive tasks. 

Condition-monitoring equipment provides a clear understanding of its lifecycle activity that’s largely inaccessible for traditional constructors wrangled in mounds of paperwork. With traditional construction methods on one hand, builders are torn between them and modern forms of construction better supporting lifecycle management. There are reasons. Modern construction methods—take prefab construction—tend to reduce operational costs with factory-built structures delivered at the site of installation. Construction companies can save on the rising labour costs and now instead only need to station a few workers at the factory to oversee factory operations—some even completing residential projects 75 percent faster than traditionally-built homes. 

No trend comes with its set of thorny issues, so to understand why prefab construction isn’t widely practised, read what Procore technologies found.

Wireless Construction Technology #4: Wireless Mobile Applications

The widespread smartphone usage among construction workers has raised the potential for mobile Wi-Fi to take over the conventional RFID systems. Far removed from the pace of Wi-Fi adoption in the world, the construction industry has universally resisted ITC innovations. 

While communicative exchange has typically occurred on walkie-talkies and emails, it soon loses efficiency when providing up-to-date information literally can stall or succeed a project.

Data transfers over traditional platforms don’t get updated by themselves whereas wireless networks enable automatic updates alongside people being able to convey inputs throughout the project lifecycle. Bringing improvements to project decision making, wireless mobile applications ease teams into change management and fosters stronger collaboration. To look into the impact of such technological advancements, this piece underscores how realities are getting better for construction workers.

Maximizing added value to stakeholders, wireless mobile handsets have drastically changed how jobsite efficiency is perceived in terms of lifecycle costs, energy efficiencies, and construction reworks averted. 

Novel smartphone applications storm the market daily to help construction managers optimize processes. Wireless solutions come with in-built GPS technology that helps locate and manage construction site assets with a mere handful clicks. It has brought the office to the jobsite and vice versa where now mobile-based video conferences close operational gaps with high-level design changes, if any, communicated and demonstrated right at the time of its implementation. Users can access high-resolution heavy files to evaluate if implementation closely follows site design specs. They can co-visualize the design-build through real-time feasibility mapping. Superintendents can conduct surveillance of different zones on the site and check worker punch ins-punch-outs to monitor daily activity. These surveillance cameras effectively watch over the site from every angle, helping initiate action during crises.

Although the construction sector is yet to catch up to wireless technology in its broadest sense, the gaming industry has some surprises in store for gaming fanatics fuming over low internet speeds. Look for top-notch routers with superior compatibility features here.

Closing Thoughts

The sooner the acceptance for wireless construction and communication technology, the faster the productivity gains for the industry. Wireless communication has let workers take liberty in moving across jobsites without having to carry a slush pile of files and heavy radio handsets when plugging into a mobile app would practically facilitate free and instant exchange. 

From crane operators being able to accurately manoeuver loads to floor managers sending the right safety signals to workers, wireless communication keeps everyone on the same page and focused at the task at hand, quite literally. 

Even with dismal adoption rates, there are chances project owners will come around since connected networks keep people connected, which has been the need of the hour since before being on-line was a thing.

Richard is an experienced tech journalist and blogger who is passionate about new and emerging technologies. He provides insightful and engaging content for Connection Cafe and is committed to staying up-to-date on the latest trends and developments.