How IoT is Driving Smart Construction and Maintenance

Q&A with Yasser Mahmud, Vice President of Industry Strategy
Oracle Construction and Engineering

In this exclusive Q&A, Yasser Mahmud, vice president of industry strategy with Oracle Construction and Engineering, discusses how the Internet of Things (IoT) is benefiting the construction industry, delivering dramatic improvements to areas such as worker safety, worksite resource management, and asset maintenance.

InforWorker with iPadHow do you see the IoT connecting with Oracle Construction and Engineering’s project execution solutions?
Oracle Construction and Engineerings applications help organizations manage the complete lifecycle of assets, from ideation and planning, to building and through to long-term operation. In the build stage alone, the combination of project controls and IoT can offer significant opportunity to improve project productivity. In fact, McKinsey has predicted that by the year 2025, IoT could have a nearly $1 trillion impact in terms of improving construction productivity on worksites.

IoT and project controls can enable companies to move to a connected construction model, which enables construction managers and other stakeholders to automate and more easily manage simple tasks that are manually performed in most situations today. The combination of these two technologies also provides greater visibility and intelligence into the day-to-day operations of a worksite.

What are the major use cases for IoT in construction?
What we see today are several use cases that highlight the ability to better monitor, control, optimize, and ultimately improve construction project outcomes across worksites. For example, during any given day, a construction manager has to understand the status of workers and contractors onsite – where they are located and where they need to be to complete tasks. The same scenario applies to equipment. The IoT can help them make this assessment much more quickly and accurately.

The construction process is like the orchestration of a symphony. Theres a significant supply chain element involved. There is also an added layer of difficulty stemming from managing varying types of project participants, including contractors, sub-contractors, full-time employees, etc. IoT-enabled worksites paired with the execution capabilities of project controls solutions can transform this process, providing new levels of visibility and coordination across this entire universe of people and tasks. Imagine being able to do just-in-time scheduling and dynamic sequencing of work in real time.

How can this enable time and cost savings in construction environments?Construction schedules traditionally include built in buffers, such as time between crew shifts and equipment arrival times. According to some research, these buffers can account for as much as 80 percent of the idle time at worksites. So you can equate idle time to a huge cost center. Better orchestration of stakeholders and improved machine productivity from the data that comes in through IoT-enabled sensors allows companies to shorten these scheduling buffers. This can bring dramatic productivity improvements.

That is key to the promise of IoT in construction: to leverage sensor data and get real-time information that helps builders to reduce waste and improve the productivity in the field.

How does this manifest over project portfolios?
Let’s look at a scenario where Im the project manager responsible for four different projects at four different geographic locations. Drilling into one site, I can look into the existing materials at that project and filter by what is used vs. what remains available. I can examine this information against what work has been done to get a sense of what materials should be moved for use at another site. Furthermore, I can determine what trucks and drivers are not currently in use to determine how best to move that material from point A to point B.

We’ll also be able to get real-time information about whats happening on site from a labor standpoint. For example, a dashboard would show me that nine electricians are on site, when there should be 10. Working with the site supervisors, I would be able to determine whether another site has the flexibility to deploy an electrician for the day. And I can do all of that analysis and coordination quickly and easily.

What other benefits does an IoT-enabled approach provide?
Of course, the well-being of the crew is a paramount concern on any worksite. IoT-enabled worksites can be equipped with technologies such as temperature and air-quality sensors that provide data about worksite conditions. Should an unsafe level be detected, the site manager can quickly assess the situation and make the decision to halt work.

When you marry this actionable level of data with project controls applications, you gain real-time information and situational awareness of whats happening in the moment, and how that can affect the rest of the activities on a project. This combination also enables you to capture data over time and analyze trends to predict when problems and dangerous situations may arise.

What role does IoT play once a construction project is done?
Once an asset is complete and has been handed over, the owner needs to perform maintenance sometimes for decades to ensure optimal operation of its facility. IoT holds significant promise in this area as well, as it has the potential to bring savings and improve asset lifespan by transforming how maintenance is performed.

As with the aforementioned construction processes, a great deal of maintenance activity today is manual. If you have equipment in a building, such as an HVAC system, and it goes down, someone typically must manually report the problem. Then someone else must be scheduled to come inspect it and diagnose the problem. Then there will be a series of work orders based on that diagnosis. And so on.

When you have sensors that are part and parcel of these systems and applications, they are continuously feeding this data into project execution applications, providing users more intelligence. So rather than a person on site reporting that the HVAC system has gone down, the data on what went wrong is received directly from the machines. This means you have a lot more information available to you, and you can quickly move to get equipment back up and running.

This also enables organizations to embrace what is known as “smart maintenance”.

In the example of the HVAC system, the system would continuously send data to an IoT-cloud application connected to the project controls system. With pre-defined thresholds in place, the application would listen to the entirety of data messages and recognize when an anomaly is taking place that requires action. The project controls system would then create a work order and initiate action.

Taking that one step further, the tools can also enable a shift to truly predictive maintenance that is based on both real-time and long-term performance data not just from a piece of equipment itself, but also from similar equipment operating around the world. With this kind of deep data, organizations dont have to wait for a problem to arise. Instead, they can monitor for early indicators of potential problems and take corrective actions at the right time.

Taken together, such data-driven maintenance can dramatically improve the life of assets, while reducing downtime and improving the experience of those living and working in these buildings.

For more information visitwww.oracle.com.

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