Adding Intelligence To Construction Equipment By VG Sakthikumar, Managing Director, Schwing Stetter India
The traditional construction equipment industry has not been an alien to automation. The labour-intensive industry has always grappled with issues relating to rising operating costs, shortage of skilled operators, and the need to race against time, as demands around the world keep rising with economic progress. The construction equipment industry has been, like any other industry, pushed to change to suit the digital age we live in. By taking full advantage of the unprecedented connectivity, data analysis, and remote capabilities, construction equipment industry is poised to take great leaps in terms of productivity and efficiency in the coming decade.
The fourth industrial revolution Industry 4.0, seeks to infuse the power of connectivity into manufacturing processes to derive unprecedented productivity gains and data-led insights for faster improvements. In the construction equipment industry, machines are often put to use in far flung locations, to handle demanding workloads. In such a scenario, integrating functional units would not only give the operator an upper hand, but also help the equipment manufacturers with precious data to spur the next wave of design.
Concreting equipment is a great example of evolving construction equipment industry. They play a key role in the speedy completion of projects and the final quality of buildings by providing consistent, uniform, exact recipe of concrete in a speedy manner. Intelligent construction equipment of today include intelligent features such as on-board PLCs (programmable logic controls) with connectivity for programming, monitoring, remote running and troubleshooting. These machines can practically provide a large variety of concreting recipes to suit myriad engineering requirements.
Self-loading concrete mixers (SLMs) are a step ahead in automation. One person can operate it completely, and steer the on-board computers to produce the best ‘recipe’ of concrete to achieve phenomenal results for the builder. With hundreds of concrete recipes already programmed inside, in addition to connectivity, the machines can be monitored remotely, and tweaked based on valuable insights gleaned from years of working data.
Similarly, wherever vast quantities of concrete require to be pumped over exceptionally long horizontal and vertical distances, concrete pumps are employed. Such concrete pumps mounted on suitable trucks enable efficient pumping of concrete under extreme climatic conditions. Given their flexibility, these pumps can be unfolded depending on the need and can be used even in cramped spaces like tunnels, low-roofed areas, etc. In most building projects, they are fast, reliable and economically viable.
Truck mixers are today IoT (Internet-of-Things) enabled, that send data streams back to the operations manager to constantly track their performances and effect proactive fixes to ensure steady functioning. An integrated platform that brings together data streams from various components of machines such as truck mixers, help monitor, diagnose and repair equipment remotely, and enable expert collaboration from around the world for speedy redressal. On-board a construction equipment, programmed intelligent systems and edge analytics help achieve consistent output easily. This further brings down the inventory cost.
Looking ahead, though connected technologies such as telematics aren’t new to the sector, the last five years have seen an unprecedented jump in terms of technology-led leaps in safety, efficiency and productivity. Thanks to intensely proactive, data-led approach imbibed from the design stage itself, the recent crop of construction equipment face lesser downtime and losses and subsequent longer machine lifespan, which all have a direct positive impact in an operator’s bottom line. Hence, it is undeniable that the construction industry that runs on heavy uncertainties such as overtime issues and budget overruns have gained significantly from intelligent construction equipment technology.
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