Wearable Technology: How the Construction Sector Saves Time, Money and the Earth

The Mace Group turned to remote inspection at the beginning of the pandemic and hasn’t looked back since then.

Wearable technology was not the revolution originally envisioned. Google Glass had a compelling concept, but the reality was often slow and clunky.

However, while head-mounted displays (HMDs) are still in their early stages for consumers, commercial customers are using them in a big way. Industries that require workers to keep their hands free, such as oil and gas and machinery / electricity / plumbing (MEP), can share screens and display instructions without looking away from immediate work. Enjoy the benefits.

The construction sector is another division that is advancing into wearable displays not only for safety, but also for cost and time savings.

“It’s not safe to roam a busy construction site or a factory environment where you’re cutting or drilling machines while you’re holding a tablet,” said Phil Sedge, façade operations director at Mace Group. I am. And a construction company that is expanding its business all over the world.

When COVID-19 occurred last year, it imposed strict restrictions on travel, but the Mace Group still needed people in the field to approve the work. The company has begun investigating remote inspection technology, allowing one person to access the site and multiple people to watch video feeds from the HMD over video calls.

After researching the market, Sedge settled on a RealWear device called the HMT-1. He states: “When I found a RealWear product, I knew I would come across something really good, so I was given three months in a working group to create a strategic document that would end up in four weeks. We gave it right away. I wanted to accept it. “

Globalize from home

Mace currently owns 20 HMT units and ships them worldwide. For example, German employees visit various glass factories and glass factories (where many of London’s glass crafts are manufactured) and share their views with architects, clients, consultants, managers and more. increase.

“Instead of they traveling to monitor production throughout the process, they actually just answer the phone and tell him what they want to see, and he goes through the factory regularly. I will do it. “

Deployment is not limited to Europe. Sedge tells us about another project in South America.

“In Peru, there are five mechanical / electrical uses, so for mechanical / electrical with a lot of prefabs offsite, you need to know part of the circuit and how to connect it during installation. Now I’m using RealWear. I used to go to the factory with one or three people to check and test the connections … now I can do everything through RealWear.

“The health and safety team is also considering using it. Instead of 6-7 people taking a health and safety tour to ensure that large projects meet the right quality standards, they are currently , Performing one of the construction works. Using RealWear products, site managers roam the site and talk to the quality control team. “

The savings from operating this way are “amazing” and Sedge hopes that wearable use will continue to evolve.

“A typical project could probably save 2,000 tonnes of carbon, 100 man-days travel, and perhaps about £ 100,000. So, in practice, you can save money, save time, and move. There is a reduction in carbon. This is also a reduction in carbon. This is just a win-win for us.

“There is always an element of touch and feel that people want. Architects want to go see a piece of glass and touch it to do it, so 25% of our normal activity I think it will still happen [in-person], But 75%-we think-we can save, and we are gradually working on it. It will begin to evolve as more and more people become accustomed to the product and embrace what technology can do. “

It’s about user awareness

As with any new technology, deployment was challenging. For example, WiFi dropouts are common in factories and construction sites with poor coverage. This can also affect the sharpness of the image. This is a problem when the USP on the device shares what it sees.

Sedge points out that RealWear has an attachment to deal with this by connecting directly to a mobile internet service (“like a big antenna”), but the wearer moves fast. There are limits to what the hardware can capture when you are. According to RealWear, the update released this year added image stabilization to alleviate the problem.

Sedge also explains that HMD wearers need to act as a relay for conversations between the person in the call and the person in the field. This is a challenge for large calls. But he quickly points out that training can solve this:

“I don’t think it’s a problem myself. Others [on-site] All I had to do was take the phone and sign in to the team and I was able to communicate directly with them. It’s about the user’s perception of what the product can really do. “

This leads to training, which is a key blocker of new technology. Today, we are very accustomed to picking up and playing consumer devices, but enterprise models tend to be a bit more complicated.

According to Sedge, this is not the case with RealWear HMD. As traditional in the IT world, he blames users-after all, it’s not without reason.

“The 55-year-old engineer I talked to used this product about six weeks ago. I took him to the conference room. [RealWear’s UK agent] SystemActive, we experienced the product and how to use it … we experienced all of them with him. He took a week off, came back, forgot everything, tried to call the client, and then blamed the product. I was saying, “But I experienced all this with you!”

“In fact, it’s very easy to use. It’s the user’s responsibility that it doesn’t work well or isn’t trained. But for training, it’s actually ready with a 10 minute rough. Mom and Dad. I was immediately taught how to use it. I was taught how to use it by children. It is a very easy-to-use product. “

Wearable displays have a long way to go before they become mainstream among consumers, but they are evolving rapidly in business. Companies regularly roll out new features and updates to make them easier to use and more likely to attract new customers. New customer feedback will continue to improve these products.

It’s a bit unusual to see consumer products move to the enterprise-and vice versa-but perhaps this is just a necessary step in the evolution of wearable displays.

Wearable Technology: How the Construction Sector Saves Time, Money and the Earth

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