- Safety and fuel efficiency are two watchwords for the innovations that are changing construction job sites.
- Drones, hardhats with carbon monoxide sensors, and new lift types top the list of new technologies designed to make the job site safer and more productive.
- Joysticks are replacing steering wheels to eliminate equipment operator fatigue and repetitive stress injury.
The construction industry has a reputation for dragging its collective feet when adopting new technology or embracing innovation. However, change is coming on the job site. New safety products, next generation lifts, and automation are beginning to make inroads into today’s construction environment.
Here are just a few of the new tools and technologies helping usher in that change.
Drones aren’t exactly new, but unmanned aerial vehicles are less expensive to use than helicopters, and they can go places that people and large equipment can’t. For a variety of purposes, deploying a drone for a is also quicker and easier than a manned flight.
Among drones’ major uses are site surveying, inspecting structures, creating promotional videos, and identifying potential hazards. Supervisors use drones to keep track of workers for safety and take photos of progress to show owners and help workers see how their efforts mesh with the overall project.
Hard Hats That Detect Carbon Monoxide
Everyone is required to wear a hard hat on the construction site. Why not make it pull double duty? Next-generation hard hats have been outfitted with the capability to detect carbon monoxide levels.
Since humans aren’t always aware of the presence of this potentially lethal invisible and odorless gas, it pays to have a little help. With this dual purpose headgear, workers will be warned when an area has become unsafe and can then act to correct the problem, or vacate the area.
A variety of site sensors is available to monitor construction sites for noise levels, temperature, and volatile organic compounds, to name a few. The sensors can be deployed throughout the site to alert workers to significant risks.
Last year, U.S. businesses paid more than $1.5 million in penalties for failing to protect workers from noise. And according to OSHA, an estimated $242 million is spent each year on workers’ compensation for hearing loss. These figures put the price of noise sensors into perspective.
Vibrating Foot Pedals
Cars are dangerous enough. But the risks grow exponentially when it’s a multi-ton piece of equipment being operated unsafely in close proximity to groups of workers.
Equipment with auto-engine shutdown cuts the engine after four minutes of idling in a stationary position.
Hard acceleration is a common bad habit that reduces fuel efficiency and threatens safety. Intelligent haptic gas pedals provide feedback to the driver by vibrating and creating resistance when exceeding the speed limit or letting the driver know when the equipment can coast.
Construction equipment often idles for 40 to 60 percent of the time it is in use. Consider how much fuel is wasted, not to mention how much pollution is spewed into the air.
Equipment with auto-engine shutdown cuts the engine after four minutes of idling in a stationary position. Productivity isn’t harmed, and you save a ton on fuel. It’s also environmentally friendly.
Construction equipment maker Kenco has developed a tool for small to large-scale job site projects. The multi-lift is capable of safely lifting and setting concrete and rock slabs.
The multi-lift can be attached to any lifting-capable machine. It comes with a shackle assembly that connects to a built-in lifting eye. Sliding legs and width adjustments are easily changed with a simple lever. A specially engineered ball pad assembly pivots in all directions to match sloped surfaces, and the lifting pads automatically grip the surface of the item being hefted.
Grip ranges are available from three inches to 68 inches, and there are lifts with 3,000 and 8,000-pound capacities.
The traverse lift is a telehandler with an extendable, traversing boom that moves loads horizontally. The operator can safely and precisely place loads at the full lift height without the need to coordinate multiple boom functions.
One manufacturer of the traverse lift has a model that provides a maximum lift of 9,000 pounds and a reach of 44 and a half feet.
Fatigue is a common issue for equipment operators. Manufacturers are moving to replace steering wheels with joysticks in an effort to minimize physically taxing, repetitive motions for workers. Instead of rotating a wheel multiple times, the operator uses an ergonomic joystick, angling the wrist for comfortable operation.
These are just some of the latest technological advances coming from equipment manufacturers around the world, whose innovations are making the job site a better place.