Road construction is a big part of the construction industry. More roads and highways mean more straightforward navigation through areas inaccessible until the roads and highways were built.
Many road projects are implemented in geographically challenging regions. Sometimes, a tunnel has to be dug through the mountain. On other occasions, bridges need to be built over the rivers in the mountainous landscape.
Modern highways are gigantic projects that need to be executed in a time-bound manner. All these construction projects are completed by workers with different and necessary skill sets. Naturally, they are exposed to many kinds of dangers that are lurking over there.
Fortunately, some technological advancements have made these job sites safer today than they were a decade back. For example, modern digital road flare fitted with sensors can earmark danger zones at a worksite.
But what truly has redefined the work environment at road construction projects is the use of Internet of things (IoT) and robotics.
Let’s see how these two technological inputs have made the road construction job sites much safer.
Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of things is connecting smart devices and systems to a central server. This makes integrated monitoring of the personnel, processes, and materials possible. For example, workers equipped with adequate smart wearable products are always connected to the control room no matter where they are working.
Workers trying to fix things in a deep gorge in a mountainous area can remain connected to the control room and rescue crew through their devices. Some of these devices may trigger an alarm on their own as soon as they detect the hazard.
This can prompt the rescue team into action, and workers could be rescued before the potential hazard can do any harm to them.
IoT creates a safer zone for workers
With IoT playing a central role in managing the workforce, it is much smoother to handle communications and accidents on road construction sites. Electrocution, collisions, and falls have been the most common accidents at construction sites. Now, IoT is being used to address these hazards at the worksite.
As workers are using a wearable to stay connected with the control room while working on hazardous projects and sites, many data is generated about the workers’ behaviors. This helps the management to run specific safety and awareness campaigns.
IoT: Anti-collision equipment
Connected devices and sensors are leading to the development of anti-collision systems. This helps the operators to get real-time information and prevent their equipment from colliding.
Different threshold limits and auto-stop features can be used to avoid collision and accidents. Smart road flares also play an essential role in making the workers aware of dangerous areas.
Damaged and malfunctioning equipment can lead to accidents that can injure the workers. Through IoT, all such damage and malfunctioning of equipment can be detected, and corrective measures can be taken in time. This can help workers avoid accidents.
Robots at a road construction project
Robots have come as a significant aid to the construction industry, particularly to the road and highway construction sector. For example, remote-controlled bulldozers are being used to demolish dangerous structures.
Since the machine can be remote-controlled, the bulldozer can work close to the structure without any danger of the workers getting trapped in the debris.
Similarly, demolition robots, teleoperated excavators, and autonomous compactors have made their way to road construction sites.
Till some years ago, unmanned equipment was hard to find at the construction sites. But now they are becoming ubiquitous. The supply of construction workers is gradually becoming thin, and artificial intelligence (AI) is making robots smarter by the day.
These factors have led to the broader use of robots in road construction industry.
More robots at construction sites
In particular, robots are being used for remote-controlled operations, heavy lifting jobs, and repetitive tasks. These are also jobs that often result in accidents. Over the next few years, the trend of robots replacing construction workers, mostly from hazardous jobs, is likely to become stronger. The construction companies have only to benefit from this shift. The use of robots in road construction projects also means higher productivity.
Large road construction projects are increasingly using robots and IoT both to increase productivity and to keep their workforce safe from professional hazards. For example, digital road flares can be used to earmark unsafe zones on a road construction site.
The sensors in these road flares can send real-time information about the workers and equipment in the nearby areas to the central server for monitoring and necessary responses.