Add Intelligence to Tools and Equipment

The jobsite has seen many changes in the way workers communicate or retrieve information. Gone are the days where workers would have to track one another down on large sites to share messy notes shared via pen and paper.

As construction saw major advancements with cranes, trucks, and even bulldozers, the same could be said for communication, as smartphones now allow contractors to communicate with anyone on and off the jobsite—all from the push of a button. These changes in technology will impact how contractors manage and track both equipment and tools in the future.

Imagine workers hammering away, while his or her tools adjust to the appropriate setting all on their own, as they ready for their next task. Or a contractor makes her way through the site, as a small robot follows behind recording her voice observations, while amassing observations on its own and receiving those of a drone up above. The idea of what the jobsite can be will gradually shift from who we can communicate with to what we can communicate with.

Tools Get Smart
Traditional hardware such as hammers, saws, and drills are staples of the construction jobsite and remain the back bone of trade. However, as each construction project requires hundreds and thousands of specifications, developments with these existing tools, along with new devices and equipment, are allowing them to respond back to contractors and workers with more sufficient data.

First off, tools now have the ability to let workers know where they are at all times. Contractors are familiar with the dread of losing or misplacing important tools or equipment, often at the worst moment possible like deadlines or inspection dates.  

Along with increased thefts on the jobsite, the cost of either misplaced or stolen equipment is costing the construction industry upwards of $1 billion in losses, according to a 2014 report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau. To ensure this doesn’t happen, technology companies are coming to market with solutions to enable contractors to find misplaced tools.

As one example, ToolWatch has found itself a niche in solutions that manage tools and inventory, so contractors can be prepared and know what is available.

“We think of ourselves as an inventory and logistics solution (provider) for construction companies,” says Craig McDonald, vice president of technology at ToolWatch, “We provide the operational intel that enables our customers to have the right tools, at the right place, at the right time.”

Information also can be sent to contractors directly from products in the warehouse, or they can even use solutions in the field to submit requisitions and check on the status of the tools they are anticipating they will use. While the idea of tools talking back may seem fantasy-like or way off into the future, this is only the beginning. Furthermore, advances in technology have also demonstrated new innovations that are creating interactions between self-sufficient equipment and workers on the jobsite.

Intelligence in Equipment
Throw out the old orange tap for safety always seen on the jobsite, and instead turn to the Sharp Intellos A-UGV (Automated Unmanned Ground Vehicle) from Autonomous Solutions, Inc.,, Petersboro, Utah, and Sharp,, Mahwah, N.J.

With a look that’s derivative of a familiar droid far, far, away, it is able to similarly roam the construction site, capturing realtime data with audio and video sensors that is sent back to a singular user. Similarly, Mantaro,, Germantown, Md., opted for a more rugged version of an onsite robot to handle tough terrain and collect data for companies before construction begins. 

Drones possess huge potential for the construction industry, but while much of the IoT (Internet of Things) has already been integrated within the construction industry through apps, equipment, hardware, and other devices, it still has more area to reach.

The presence of drones on the jobsite is still in an introductory stage, but a recent partnership between Epson,, Suwa, Japan, a provider of augmented reality solutions, and DJI,, a leading drone provider, Shenzhen, China, has resulted in the development of smart glass solutions that put you inside the machine.

The glasses will allow users to see in perfect vision, a first-person view of the drone camera, while maintaining a pinpoint of where the drone is in the sky. When adopted for construction, this will allow contractors on large sites to supervise areas that may be farther away, without having to waste time walking all through the site. It will also provide a more improved snapshot of construction process, as normally workers may take a step back to evaluate their work, but here, contractors can get a whole new perspective.

With innovations such as this, tools and equipment will literally be the eyes and ears of the jobsite moving forward.

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