By Karen L. Edwards, RoffersCoffeeShop® Editor.
The Internet of Things is just about everywhere, and it is going to be changing the way construction sites operate.
I first heard the phrase, the Internet of Things (IoT), related to a new conference that was being planned. This was eight or nine years ago. At the time I didn’t really grasp just what the IoT was and how it would impact nearly every single thing we do.
What is the IoT?
If you’re reading this and still trying to understand just what the IoT is, let’s look at some real-life examples. Did you get a Ring video doorbell for Christmas? It pairs with an app on your phone that alerts you when someone is at your door. You can see who is there and even talk to them remotely via the app. All of this is happening because you have an internet connection at your home that the doorbell uses to communicate to you.
Maybe you got a smart speaker or Amazon Echo device for Christmas. The addition of a smart plug, like a WeMo, makes ordinary things, such as a lamp on the end table in your living room, become part of the IoT. Once connected, you use your internet connection, your voice and your smart speaker to turn the light on and off.
IoT in Roofing
Now the IoT is creeping its way into the roofing and construction industries. You might already be using the IoT in your business and didn’t even realize it. Perhaps one of the most well-known uses is GPS tracking. Do your trucks have GPS monitoring on them? If so, you are using the IoT as the GPS unit on the truck is now able to communicate back to the office where it is and in some cases what it is doing, i.e. sudden stops, speeding.
What’s coming is even more exciting. Augmented reality now exists so that workers can be trained for specific workplace scenarios and to improve safety. Verizon began using this technology in 2018 to train its service technicians so they know how to perform installation and repairs safely from ladders, bucket trucks and in manholes under streets.
The IoT will allow for virtual live support from the rooftop. Using special software and equipment such as Microsoft’s Hololens, a technician on the roof will be able to share exactly what they are seeing with someone offsite. That offsite person will be able to assist in solving whatever problem the technician is struggling to repair.
Wearable technology will allow workers hours to be logged to prevent fatigue and reduce the risk of accidents. Many of us use Fit Bit and other wristband style technology to track steps and overall fitness activity. These are just being taken one step further and applied to the worksite to help ensure the safety and well-being of the workforce.
Other wearable trackers can indicate exactly where workers are on the jobsite to help prevent accidents or other mishaps. They also can send an alert for sudden jolts, such as those caused by an impact or fall.
It can be challenging to stay on top of the latest technologies and understand how you can use them in your business, but there are several resources that can help.
- National and local roofing associations – they host annual trade shows where vendors who supply the latest technologies display and demonstrate their use. In fact, the International Roofing Expo is taking place in February 2019 in Nashville. A pass to the expo hall is free.
- The Roofing Technology Think Tank – this organization was formed by innovative, forward-thinking industry leaders whose goal is to educate and advance technology into the industry. Sign up for their twice-a-week SmartBrief email to stay informed.
- RoofersCoffeeShop® – Your place for news, ideas, education, talking to other contractors in the forum and hearing on industry influencers on topics relative to your business. Visit the site and sign up for the Week in Review email so you don’t miss any news.