Technology is key to COVID proof construction sites

According to the CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight), over 60,000 construction employees are now on PUP and thousands of their jobs are permanently threatened.

If you wanted an indicator that this industry really needs to start considering change and becoming more digitalised, then this is a prime example. If we had our story straight, and accepted technology sooner, there would be far less chance of ever needing to shut this industry right now.

We are in a conundrum right now where many do not want to accept technology because they prefer the chaos and opportunity it creates through claim culture, yet avoiding technology and digitalisation will stunt our growth as an industry and result in weeks and months like we have right now, where the sector must slow.

This week we look at a few processes and technologies that would put comfort in the governments perception of our industry, and see our sites open and put some level of certainty on our economy where an estimated €1.25bn is lost per week of lockdown and the lure that Ireland brings to Foreign Direct Investors gets somewhat diminished.

Why we aren’t collectively strategizing all our sites to be more digitally advanced is beyond me.

There are measures in place to digitalise our industry, with a recently launched competitive challenge-based grant called 'Build Digital Project for the Construction Sector in 2021'. However, this industry needs digitalisation now, not in 5 years. We believe this want and calling from our industry is why we have grown so rapidly in the past 2 years.

I do not think we will ever get back to how we worked before, not because COVID will never go away, it will. But society has shifted.

People have found a new work life balance, and shown that productivity can be achieved while WFH (Work From Home). All the big firms, whether in law, technology or finance, have all committed to permanent new WFH policies, which, no doubt, will be benchmarked for other industries over the coming months. So what will that mean for construction?

We are slightly different, for the most part, as we require the workforce to be on site. For that workforce having the correct PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is key.

Is your PPE Wearable?

Before we talk about the more advanced technology, we should highlight, that, if anything, we have successfully culturized, as an industry, Health and Safety.

As a setting, or an environment, you would have thought that the building site is one which is somewhat capable of adapting to the laws of COVID living, considering that typically as a standard user wears steel toe boots, a helmet, gloves, a hi-vis vest, glasses and face mask.

Now, it wouldn’t take a whole lot of more innovative thinking to add to this list of mandatory protective equipment by introducing smart wearable technology to the list.

The wearable technology industry will be worth over €54 Billion by 2023.

With the above-mentioned PPE being standard. It is the perfect industry to adapt these items to smarter technology and provide a new invisible layer of safety that will be far more effective than the traditional hard hats and boots, and that is data. Data will be able to protect us better than any physical piece of PPE.

At GagaMuller Group, we have recently developed our first wearable device - Sourcetrace, in partnership with Tyndall Institute in Cork, which allows a full trace history of all breach locations, durations and distances recorded for every site worker, every day on site.

This data can be stored for up to 14 days, where, in the event of a positive case on site, it gives the COVID Compliance officer an immediate record of all contact tracing, allowing them to take immediate action in managing the spread.

We are not saying “Hey, why don’t you all go buy our devices”, while it would be a good idea, we are simply expressing a motion that this industry should hurry up in accepting technology as a whole as it would solve a lot of problems.

There is lots of wearables out there to chose from, just pick what suits your organisation and trial it. Or if you have an idea, why not take a chance and go build it, it only took us 4 months to develop Sourcetrace.

GagaMuller Group will not stop developing technology, we are hoping that we are seen as the first through the wall of a plethora of new companies, apps and wearables to our industry and hoping to be the catalyst to many new start-ups entering this exciting and, relatively, unexplored space.

The opportunities are endless in what can be achieved with a smarter more connected construction site. We expect the big players in the industry to move first when it comes to wearable solutions, but, must we highlight that it really isn’t as far fetched as you might think, many of you are wearing a wearable right now!

Correct Planning of works