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Oct 30, 2018 | IN Process Verification | BY Wayne Smith
The Evolution of Construction Task Automation

Task automation in the construction industry leverages smartphones, Bluetooth, beacons, RFID, and geo-fencing to create a safer and more efficient work environment.

In an emergency, a quick ping to your employee’s phone can alert emergency responders to his precise location and may save his life.

Telematics ensure that only those certified to operate specific equipment can perform startup procedures. It also ensures that the equipment is operating at the appropriate thresholds, verifies its location, and sends notifications when preventive and conditional maintenance actions are required. If an accident involving the equipment occurs, data logs list everyone in the area at the time of the occurrence.

While there has been significant progress in recent years, there is still a lot that can be done for construction task automation. For example, many organizations currently plug laptops and tablets into machinery to download data.

This information is used to determine maintenance schedules, assess productivity, and diagnose equipment failures. In the current state, the data is simply stored on the device. It is up to a human resource to perform an analysis and send out the results to drive action.


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Data from connected machinery is automatically uploaded to the cloud. These uploads kick-off an automated analysis and predefined groups receive the results.

Human Intellectual Property is The Missing Link

The barrier to this level of automation is extracting human intellectual property.

  • How is the data from the machine analyzed?
  • What significant outliers should be tracked and which ones are meaningless?

These are the types of questions that stand in the way of fully automating some tasks.

Process verification software bridges the gap by collecting human IP and leveraging it to automate a process. When a process is automated, it is easy to see which tasks are unnecessary or redundant and where construction task automation makes sense.

Efficiency is doing better what is already being done. – Peter Drucker (Click to Tweet)

Does Construction Task Automation Threaten Jobs?

No.

Task automation does not eliminate jobs; instead, it enables more efficient performance, grows the business, and increases the demand for workers. In fact, resources that automate their daily tasks demonstrate advanced knowledge of both their profession and the actions needed to grow the business, increasing their value to the organization.

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For example, when Vendor A finishes an aspect of the project, he or she notifies the customer’s project manager, who, in turn, notifies their own customer’s PM. Often, the end customer requests photographic verification of job completion. The request is handed down through the chain, and the response goes back up the chain. All of this may take days or even a couple of weeks to accomplish.

At the end, Vendor B can finally be notified to start work.

Process automation reduces the time involved in communications and verification AND the time between project milestones.

In an automated world, Vendor A taps a button on their smartphone to mark the job as complete and is immediately prompted for photographic verification. While still on-site, Vendor A snaps and uploads a photo that is simultaneously sent to both their customer and the end customer. Both parties review and approve the work and Vendor B automatically receives notification to start the next phase of the project.

Automating specific tasks within the process allows every resource to complete work faster and with better quality.

Automation drives efficiency and proficiency in every discipline. It makes things happen faster and improves performance.

Construction task automation

Consider wireless tower inspections, which now require workers to climb up to 400 feet into the air. Can software climb the tower and complete the inspection? No.

However, a drone can fly around the tower, capture images and automatically compile those images into an inspection report. Instead of climbing the tower, the inspector flies the drone and reviews the completed report.

The inspection is completed faster and at much less risk to personal safety.

Success in management requires learning as fast as the world is changing. – Warren Bennis (Click to Tweet)

The Wireless Construction Industry Has a Proven Record of Adapting to Automation

Wireless construction emerged in the early 1990s. Since then, the industry has experienced a tremendous amount of change.

Remember drop testing? Now, through the advent of Big Data, those tests are automated through every phone.

Remember microwave was the used for the last mile coverage and the demand for microwave engineers was great? A growing need for fiber engineers has replaced that demand.

Radio frequency engineers, once prized for their specialized knowledge, are nearly obsolete as software and propagation tools have taken over.

Yet, even with all of this, the demand for workers in the construction industry has never been higher.

In fact, a recent survey found that there are currently 298,000 job openings in the construction industry, an increase of 39 percent since last year.

Construction Task Automation is the Answer

Construction task automation is not eliminating jobs  - it is having just the opposite effect.

Process verification is the next step in the evolution of construction task automation in the construction industry. It is enabling organizations of all sizes to meet increasing demand with greater efficiency and proficiency.

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Tags: Process Verification, Data Collection, Construction Industry

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