Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association

Mobilizing for the Future: Field Technology

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In the last two years alone, 90% of the information in world history has been generated. In all aspects of our lives, technology is moving at an unprecedented pace and elevating the way we live, work, and communicate.

Technical solutions focused on the construction industry are growing at an extremely rapid pace as well. During 2018 US based construction technology startups raised $3.1 billion dollars in over 130 major investment deals. How do you learn about new ideas, separate the buzzwords from the strategies, and use construction technology to your advantage in driving safety, productivity, and a competitive edge for your company?

In order to champion innovation and increase efficiency at your organization, the first step is to ensure that your company has a robust culture prepared to take on new challenges. As explained by Frederic Le Play, “the most important product of the mines is the miner.” No matter the complex buildings or other precious resources produced by your employees, the people themselves are the most important output of your company’s efforts. Focusing on a people-first mentality creates an environment of loyalty, creativity, and generates strategic mindshare far beyond that of a company driven by isolated visionaries.

To purposefully look at innovation, first seek to understand the needs of your workers and help to elevate solutions that eliminate their unique challenges. Working in the field presents high exposure risks for any construction company. Strong safety practices reduce these risks while increasing worker focus and quality of output.

Not every safety technology is appropriate for every corporate culture. Allowing your team to champion and test their own safety practices enables employee engagement during all levels of implementation. Special consideration should be taken to avoid fatigue and worker exposure. Your body is the most important tool that will ever be used on the job and care should be taken to prevent injuries at all costs. Technologies empowering worker safety include the following:

  1. Triax Technologies’ Spot-R wearables create a live network of site awareness. This enables zone-monitoring and worker biometrics while maintaining privacy limits for active jobsites.

  2. Construction Robotics’ Material Unit Lift Enhancer (MULE) reduces muscular strain caused by heavy material transport. By shifting the burden of material movement to a robotic arm, workers can exercise dynamic control over site materials.

  3. Smartvid.io makes use of the massive amounts of progress and security data already created on a jobsite to predict safety incidents. By leveraging artificial intelligence, this software provides information to empower workers and eliminates risks long before accidents can occur.

Connected equipment improves awareness and operating functionality during all phases of new construction and site maintenance. Smart equipment provides information that extends a human worker’s ability to make informed decisions. Technological advancements in the field create opportunities for versatile, robust devices that can record operating and environmental information and enable contractors to perform tasks more quickly, safely, and efficiently. Below are some connected tool products that are advancing field productivity:

  1. Milwaukee Tool’s ONE-KEY platform reduces worker downtime by ensuring that contractors have the right tools for the job. Through customizable tool control, ONE-KEY drives efficiency in precise and repeatable tasks, records operation information, and provides tool diagnostics.

  2. Verizon Connect’s Telematics Platform keeps teams safe and engaged through scheduling and logistics tracking. Workers can better understand and control their equipment through these connected devices.

  3. Johnson Controls’ Enterprise Management 2.0 platform leverages the power of connected equipment on a comprehensive analytics system for energy management, space planning, and equipment performance. By interpreting multiple sensors through precise data analytics, key decision makers can develop proactive site plans.

Digital transformation is driven by much more than startup funding and powerful technology capabilities. In an industry where each contractor has unique identity and corporate culture, innovation must start from an internal desire to improve. By exploring new solutions and engaging employees at all levels of an organization, companies can position themselves to be strong and agile for whatever the future looks like. As the world continues to evolve and be disrupted by new technologies and processes, the time is ripe to create pioneers for a sustainable future. Be brave, be curious, but above all, be advocates for your people.

Tauhira Ali, Sr. Manager of Construction Technology | Milwaukee Tool

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