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Insights Why North America’s construction market is a world leader in IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an emerging technological innovation that offers the construction market insights and practical advantages. Internet-connected devices on construction sites provide data on actions, conditions (including weather) performance, and even skills, allowing better-informed decisions to be made on a day-by-day basis, and when planning projects. In North America, AtkinsRéalis is pioneering the use of IoT sensors to develop better maintenance strategies, more efficient materials use, finer-tuned logistics and safer working practices.

The maturation of IoT can be used to support defragmentation in a sector that can often struggle to streamline project management. The ability to use aggregated real-time data to underpin decision-making is a fundamental change in the construction market. Integrating IoT with construction equipment provides more efficient operations and shortens project timelines.

multicolour dots in the shape of tall buildings and streets

The IoT, optimization and the construction market

A recent Forbes article explores how cities can use IoT to mitigate climate change, which is a meta-scale approach to a solution being developed across the AtkinsRéalis group (AtkinsRéalis , Atkins, Faithful+Gould and Acuity). This approach explores using broader data sets to develop project management strategies which can include factoring meteorology into construction planning. This approach fits with a core principle for effective construction management - iterative methodology. Skilled construction workers are always aware of the unpredictable nature of construction sites, where safety issues, weather conditions, and logistical difficulties may require an agile approach to project management. Adjusting a methodology based on real-time data is one of the most productive strategies in the construction sector, and the IoT provides rich data in simple formats that redefine approaches and rapidly re-timeline project streams.

Project management careers are often based on optimizing many factors for maximum efficiency. One sector where IoT offers extensive new opportunities for the construction market is remote operations. Delivering results in remote environments requires the ability to undertake real-time monitoring of machinery and personnel alongside traditional remote site monitoring via digital imaging. Construction project management jobs increasingly expect applicants to have hands-on experience in tracking machines and materials in real-time and using data to improve real-time efficiency. For AtkinsRéalis , this approach is factored into our operations in rural Canada where a building boom creates demand for people to fill construction jobs in demanding environments.

Combatting climate change with the IoT

But the IoT can do so much more than just reduce costs and improve performance, important as those things are to any construction organization. From the ambitious approaches of Smart Cities like NEOM Saudi Arabia, through to the use of IoT to support the utilization of modular and prefabricated structures which can be re-used or repurposed in new locations once their utility in the current location ends, IoT can be used to reduce the harmful effects of climate change. Building IoT into construction projects has a continuing ability to improve energy management and resource usage over the lifetime of a project, allowing energy companies to fine-tune their operations via data provided by inbuilt digital sensors and giving the building managers the ability to schedule maintenance and plan predictively - reducing energy demand, linking workforce management to resource usage and ensuring environments remain safe and healthy without accelerating costs as assets age and would traditionally have declined in performance.

Worker welfare in the construction market

The final area where AtkinsRéalis is leading in IoT technological advances is in worker welfare and safety. ‘Wearables’ allow construction managers to real-time map and manage employees on site, including remote sites, giving more accurate, and less intrusive information about the human elements of site management. Wearables can also allow the rapid transmission of site information, reducing risk and giving project managers a less hierarchical function, permitting them to communicate site-wide, which creates a more inclusive and informed workplace. IoT devices that are linked to construction workers on site can also measure and report on aspects of the site that might not be evident to the employee, such as air quality, giving managers a greater lead time on potential hazards and ensuring worker welfare without intrusive monitoring.

Excited about how technology can help us build better?

At AtkinsRéalis , we’re always committed to improving performance and developing strategies for a sustainable future. If you’re ready to be at the forefront of using new technologies to create a better-built environment, why not explore the opportunities AtkinsRéalis has in the construction market? Browse our construction jobs, or sign up to the talent community to be the first to hear about our latest roles.