Digitisation in the construction industry

Internet of things transforming construction

Whether it’s projects running overtime, over budget or companies failing to adapt to change, productivity is one of the main topics that consumes the construction industry. Evidence shows that various industries have turned to the Internet of Things (IoT) in order to unlock productivity growth, the theory being that IoT has the potential to digitise processes to gain efficiency and competitive advantage. But, with less than 6% of construction companies making full use of digital planning tools, it seems the benefits of IoT have not been properly explored.

Before we delve deeper, let's start with the basics...

What is the 'Internet of Things'?

IoT links physical things, such as a power tool, a compressor or a safety harness, with digital information and processes. By equipping these physical things with sensors and connectivity, data can be automatically captured in the field and fed to software that helps companies to run important business processes. The technologies required to successfully implement IoT are now available at a size, cost and level of reliability that makes it a viable proposition for the construction industry.

How can IoT boost jobsite productivity?

We know a lot has been said about how IOT can make our homes, industries and even entire cities ‘smart’, but how can this topic that’s disrupting the sector really increase productivity? One way is through improving the maintenance and repair of machinery as well as the tracking of assets, ensuring that they never get lost or stolen – a commonly reported issue on large-scale construction sites.

With labour productivity growth in construction averaging only 1% a year of the past two decades, compared with growth of 2.8% for the total world economy, IOT could be an essential ingredient in improving productivity growth by ensuring construction companies have access to real-time data. This data can then warrant machine performance and preventive maintenance, reduce downtime and repair costs as well as the time for locating assets. In short, by safeguarding the use of tools for the maximum possible time IOT can, in turn, boost on-site productivity.

What impact has IoT had on the industry so far?

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From tendering to BIM to tracking assets, IoT has already started to have an impact on the construction industry and its processes.

Firstly, electronic tendering is becoming the industry standard. The EU, for example, insist on digital calls for tender for public construction projects, as it ensures contract award processes are more transparent and efficient.

Secondly, Business Information Modelling (BIM), which is already important within the industry, will soon become the standard for everyone on the building site. The main advantage of using BIM is that a digital simulation of the project is created before the first brick is even laid. This minimises planning errors, permits faster calculations and quantifies any extra costs.

There’s also connected tools which can include asset tracking, tool identification and tool control – all of which utilise IoT to make your life easier and jobsites more efficient. At Hilti, we've integrated IoT with ON!Track and our Hilti Connect App.

Don't ignore digitisation, embrace it

Just like with the IOT integration here at Hilti with ON!Track and our Hilti Connect App, the possibilities opened up by IOT give the construction industry various ways to boost productivity on and off site – there is no stopping the progress towards digitisation. If digitisation is ignored, it could be argued that companies run the risk of falling behind their rivals and therefore, they have no choice but to tackle the vital issue that is productivity. But where productivity is the issue, it’s clear IOT provides many solutions.

What are your thoughts on IOT for construction? Have you digitised various aspects in your business? What works and what doesn’t with IOT solutions? Let us know on X!