Construction is often perceived as a “traditional” industry, not commonly associated with modern information technologies or cloud connected services (IoT). However, the tools and equipment used in the construction process have experienced constant evolution over the past decades.
This development trend applies for lifting operations, where onboard electronics have enhanced crane safety and improved efficiency, especially when managing weather-related risks.
Information represents value in the modern digital world, and data becomes more valuable if it can travel faster.
Wind perception is subjective, and conditions that seem dangerous for some construction workers may be considered normal by others. In vertical construction also consider that wind speed can change dramatically from ground level to the highest floor. A reliable assessment of wind conditions is only possible with a direct measurement and project managers can only make accurate decisions if the data is accessible in real or near to real time.
Limitations of traditional Stand-Alone Weather Instruments
When first designed centuries ago, weather instruments like anemometers and wind vanes were completely mechanical. As a result, weather data could only be retrieved with direct observation and all calculations had to be performed manually.
Even the most accurate anemometer has limited usefulness if installed on a crane with no way to access its data.. In other words, a weather monitoring system for a crane only adds value if it can provide both accuracy and connectivity. A third requirement is ruggedness, since the unit must protect sensitive electronic components while being directly exposed to the weather on a daily basis.
Weather forecasts have limited accuracy, and at best they provide an idea of the general conditions expected at a project site. Only a site specific monitoring system presents a clear image of the real operating conditions to which a crane or structure is exposed, providing valuable data and alerts regarding Wind gusts, Wind turbulence and Wind funneling for example.
To decide if crane or construction site operations can be conducted safely, site managers and operators need information. That information must be gathered on-site to reflect real conditions, but also accessible from the computers, tablets and mobile phones used by the project staff.
Cloud connected monitoring devices
Digital weather instruments can communicate directly with onboard electronics, allow automatic data processing and avoiding long and repetitive calculations. When Internet connectivity is added to the system, the processed data becomes available for project managers and personnel situated away from the construction site. In other words, the crane operator and the project managers are visualising the same data from any location and country.
The next technological step to a cloud connected device is adding cloud storage which provides a remote data backup for the wind/weather monitoring system. This offers three key advantages:
- Data storage is no longer limited by the memory space of onboard electronics, since it can be sent to a remote site. Cloud-based storage capacity can expand indefinitely as needed by the application.
- Information is safer: If data stored on a weather monitoring system is lost or temporarily unavailable, backup data can be retrieved from the cloud-based storage system.
- There is no need to download the accumulated data at regular intervals to free storage space, eliminating a repetitive and time-consuming task.
The concept of smart devices is often used to describe equipment and electronics with Internet connectivity. However, to be considered truly smart, a device must be capable of autonomous operation – analysing information and making decisions without human input.
As the Internet of Things (IoT) expands to construction equipment, the amount of data generated by contractors will increase exponentially. This information can be very valuable for decision-making but only with adequate management. Having multiple stand-alone devices gathering large amounts of raw data is of little use, but when this data is gathered through the Internet and automatically processed into a useful format, project managers can get a clear perspective of operating conditions across multiple sites within minutes.
OEM – For crane and construction manufacturers building an IoT product and service is very complex. One solution is to outsource this to a company who specialises in internet enabled electronics and cloud computing. One of the big advantages of utilising the services of an established, existing data platform provider is that you piggy-back on their growth and year on year their developers are working on enhancements and new functionality.
By integrating areas of your product or service to a cloud based data provider, you’ll reduce risk, minimise cost, improve quality and accelerate time to market.
WINDCRANE® by Logic Energy Ltd.