Technology can increase onsite health and safetyby Neha Bhatia on Feb 14, 2016
Investments towards improving onsite safety are rapidly gaining traction in the GCC’s construction industry. Regulatory, policy, and technological developments in the field are being driven by both public and private sector outfits, with site workers and labourers expected to accrue the benefits of intelligent health, safety, and environment (HSE) strategies and systems.
Contractors’ HSE programmes, however, are more likely to meet their targets if companies incorporate technology into their operations. Drones, for instance, have already been adopted in the regional construction sector, with the UAE’s government agencies leading the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for mainstream inspection activities.
In September 2015, Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA) introduced a smart security surveillance programme at its free-zone technology park, in collaboration with the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA). The initiative, which covers the authority’s Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) zone, will see the deployment of drones to help coordinate onsite security and surveillance functions.
DSOA’s drone operations will follow guidelines set forth by the DCAA for remote piloted aerial vehicles. In addition to being trained on the basic operation of the machines, drone operators will also be familiar with the Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) system. The platform allows SMS exchanges between handset-to-handset calls, as well as location pinpointing through the on-board GPS.
Industry experts believe drone surveillance is the starting point of technology’s full potential to participate in – and contribute to – daily onsite construction operations.
However, while the Middle East’s construction industry has traditionally been apprehensive about technology’s value-for-money aspect, this reluctance appears to be diminishing in the region.
Jimmy Lundberg, product manager for Volvo Construction Equipment’s (CE) CareTrack telematics system, says the magnified focus on construction site safety is promoting the understanding and uptake of onsite technology in the region. The original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is working on updates to its telematics systems, which it expects to launch at Germany’s bauma 2016 this April. The new services, Lundberg claims, are aimed at “creating customer value across different areas”, such as efficiency, productivity, and safety.
“The Middle East is a lot more advanced now than it was even when I started working a few years ago,” he tells Construction Week.