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IoT in the construction industry: Where to start?

Written by
Sebastien De Grauwe

The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to radically change the way the construction industry operates. Opportunities abound to increase safety, efficiency and quality, and make what was impossible just a few years ago, possible today. Experts agree that the size of the IoT market in construction will reach no less than $17 billion by 2024.

Why the Internet of Things in construction?

Construction is one of the least digitized and automated industries in the world today. The aim of introducing the IoT is to address the necessary concerns of streamlining workflows and workspaces, as well as improving responsiveness to changing market demands.
In what areas can the IoT offer significant improvements for you?


Anyone who has ever worked on a construction site knows that the end result is always different from the original, budgeted plan. As industry-wide results are determined by deadlines and targets, contractors absolutely must avoid these delays to keep the budget under control.
IoT technology will improve productivity by reducing the workload on people, eliminating human error and also giving site managers new ideas to improve product planning and customer satisfaction.
The IoT also makes it possible to equip your power sources with sensors that can determine how much is being supplied and where. What's more, in combination with ERP, digital forms can be generated to automate and optimize daily tasks ranging from planning and inspections to delivery management workflows.

Safety and theft

The IoT can also help overcome two of construction's biggest challenges: security and theft.
It's simply not humanly possible to monitor a large construction site spread over several thousand square meters at all times. Consequently, there is always a risk of theft or loss of equipment and materials.
This problem can currently be easily solved by using geolocatable IoT "tags" to communicate the current location of materials or equipment. In other words, the physical presence of a human being is not required to monitor them.
This also enables a digital map of the site, updating it in real time and including potential safety risks as they arise. Notifications are then sent out if, for example, a worker gets too close to a machine.


One of the biggest cost items for any construction company is energy and fuel consumption. If these expenses are not proactively managed, it will have a negative impact on the overall project budget.
The IoT provides real-time information enabling the manager to know the status of each piece of equipment. From the planning of maintenance shutdowns to the deactivation of unused equipment, this enables greater efficiency in maintenance management.
The system can also provide data that will prevent problems from occurring and, above all, inform contractors of the depletion of their stock of materials, tools and equipment, the condition of these as well as the expiry of inspections or incidents of use, and so on.

Where to start?

A McKinsey study estimates the impact of the Internet of Things on construction companies at nearly $160 billion a year in savings, simply by adopting IoT technology.
Today's IoT enables you to manage, track, monitor and analyze your construction company's data. Some examples below:


Sensors can be power, heat, humidity, fuel or concrete hardening sensors. While supply sensors will improve your management efficiency by placing automatic orders in the event of shortages and setting alarm thresholds, heat and humidity sensors can extend the life of your equipment and materials.

Geolocation tags

In this way, you can tag your equipment and tools to reduce cases of theft and/or loss. As construction sites are generally very large, these IoT tags will save you time by making it easier to geolocate and monitor your construction equipment and materials.

A real-time map of en

In 2019, the construction industry sadly contributed 47% of all worker fatalities in the United States. This catastrophic situation creates a need for construction business owners to minimize accidents and ensure the safety of their workers.
IoT is an excellent solution to this problem, as tags can create real-time digital maps of construction sites highlighting hazardous areas, the number of employees on site and work in progress using sensors and beacons. This, in turn, helps to make construction sites more predictable, easier to control and safer for workers.


These wearable devices are intelligent devices worn by workers that can monitor their working positions and status, as well as their stress levels, pulse, etc. Specific sensors can indicate whether the worker is in an emergency situation by generating "ManDown" alarms. Specific sensors can indicate if the worker is in an emergency situation by generating "ManDown" alarms.

What does the future hold for IoT in construction?

Given that IoT can help you reduce organizational maintenance costs by up to 10%, construction companies will need to think about storing this important data in organized "data lakes" so that, possibly with the help of Artificial Intelligence, they can make the best possible decisions in terms of schedule monitoring, budgeting, quality and safety.
The construction industry has always been slow to adopt new technologies, but fortunately, IoT in construction is gaining ground every day. Although the Covid19 pandemic led to an 18% drop in the net addition of IoT sensors, we're convinced that once the movement gets underway, there'll be no stopping it in the future.

We can help you start your IoT journey, contact us

Source: Ludovic F. Rembert, Head of Research at Privacy Canada.