Top Seven Benefits of the Use of Camera in Construction
Over the last 50 years, the Construction industry has fallen behind in terms of productivity and innovation compared to other industries. This deficit is due to the industry's hesitation to adopt new technologies and step into the digital age. The previously effective methodologies, procedures, and strategies in the construction industry are now out of date. With today's increased demand for construction and infrastructure services, a digital transformation must be adopted to stay competitive. By analyzing benefits and significant trends seen in current industry literature, as well as conducting interviews, our team aims to shed light on how the construction industry is working on welcoming innovation and adopt rising technological trends. This article summarizes a GLCM project that focused on studying the current uses and benefits of construction cameras.
This project initiated in summer of 2019 with conducting literature review of the construction camera industry. In a comprehensive analysis to understand the market better the team started by listing examples of construction camera companies, which were then grouped based on the hardware products, software products, and services provided. More data was also collected to take a closer look at the companies’ backgrounds; such as year of establishment, main clientele, and available integrations with other construction industry software. Moreover, the study then developed a list of over 40 benefits of the uses of camera in the construction industry.
After conducting the literature review and the analysis, the team rounded out the study by conducting 17 industry interviews focusing on answering the following three main questions: (i) how does companies collect visual data on construction projects; (ii) who collects such data on the projects (i.e., in-house vs. outsourcing); why visual data is collected from construction projects; and (iii) what are the future uses of visual data anticipated in the construction industry. The interview process focused on several industry stakeholders such as contractors, engineers, and owners.
Visual Data refers to all information gathered and provided by photos and videos. There are many channels used and methods employed when collecting visual data. The team classified the channels of the collection into three categories: Traditional, Modern, and Innovative.
Traditionally large construction projects began requiring video and photographic coverage to aid in tracking progress and increasing site safety and security. Examples of channels of the collection initially employed and still used throughout the industry today include stationary Surveillance Cameras, Pan-Tilt-Zoom, and Security Cameras for 24/7 recording of the property. These channels being the longest standing method of collection, have been categorized as tradition. These methods and channels are continued to be developed and are at the heart of the visual data industry.
From the technological advancement of satellite and portable cameras came what the team refer to as the modern channels for the collection of visual data. These commonly used methods have become industry staples on all projects. This category included Satellite imaging, Tablets, and SmartPhones. These cameras, although a significant step forward, do not replace the function of all on-site construction cameras but have provided project management teams with the ability to transfer information quickly. Satellite imaging is commonly used to provide bird's eye views of a job site when developing basic site logistics plans. Cameras on both tablets and smartphones have made it commonplace for managers and workers to have high-powered handheld cameras readily available and changed the way we look at visual data.
Innovative channels for visual data collection include the use of cameras on cranes, heavy machines, trailers, and drones. Cameras on Cranes commonly used to eliminate blind spots and ensure the operators have a clear vision of the load area. Cameras on Heavy Machinery help to track equipment performance and ensure safe driving practices. Cameras are commonly placed on all four corners of the vehicle to provide the driver with a surrounding view of the vehicle to aid in avoiding obstacles when moving around the site. Drones are most commonly used to survey land providing the user with an aerial view of the site, replacing the traditional method of photography from a camera taken during a flyover, which can be quite expensive. Automated Cameras on Trailers move around job sites with ease, providing full-motion videos of the site without the need for a constant operator.
The usage of cameras and the collection of visual data in construction has provided a large variety of benefits. In this project more than 40 benefits were identified. Based on the literature as well as the interview process this article is focused on highlighting the top 7 benefits: marketing, document management, and communication, project schedule reduction, project cost reduction, resolution of legal disputes, increase project safety, and increased project security. The identified benefits enable higher productivity, as well as increased quality and efficiency for successful project completion.
Marketing: This has become one of the most significant benefit seen for construction cameras. Throughout the entire industry, owners, developers, designers, and contractors alike have taken advantage of the benefits of the opportunities marketing provides. Some of these opportunities include the use of time-lapse footage to show the completion of milestones and advertise on social media. Live streaming to allow all parties, including investors, potential clients, and the general public, to track progress from start to finish. More recently, there has been an increase in 360-degree visual data taken to provide future clients with an interactive site walkthrough experience.
Documentation and Communication: many benefits identified for construction cameras under the area of project management. These benefits are spread throughout the construction process and can be invaluable to a team's success. They include but are not limited to, providing the contractor with a straight-forward method to show site progress. Cameras track quality control and assurance throughout the project, clearly express requests for information about field conditions, as well as providing the ability to integrate with various project management and design software.
Project Schedule: Project management teams are continually pushing to deliver projects ahead of schedule and under budget. Construction cameras and the usage of visual data have also been proven to decrease overall project duration, and increase project management efficiency. The use of construction cameras can allow project managers to maintain accurate records of progress, monitor quality of work, and catch errors in building from a remote location. Monitoring the site from the office can allow project managers more time to review different conditions throughout the project due to the decreased need for time-consuming on-site visits. With this influx of time from decreased site visits and more efficient communication of concerns, project managers can distribute their time more effectively and oversee multiple projects from one centralized location.
The use of cameras in construction industry is booming. However, there are still some main points need to be addressed when it comes to visual data collection. First, few companies have teams that are focused on make full use of the visual data available in their archives from projects. Also, companies provide little to no educational opportunities for the field participants to advance their awareness of the benefits of construction cameras and visual data collection. Such lack of knowledge for tradespeople and field management greatly decreases the usage of visual data in the field. Moreover, field personnel in some situations feels uncomfortable to work under constant supervision of cameras. Finally, some third-party camera providers do not deliver a complete solution to help E&C companies incorporate new tools into an existing system.
Despite this there are currently major rising technological trends well connected to visual data collection that are making a positive impact in construction in terms of productive outcomes. Such trends have the potential to bring innovation to the construction industry and match the productive growth seen in the rising digital transformation. Engineering and construction firms collaboratively and individually need to raise awareness and knowledge between all project personal on the such technological trends such as: Artificial Intelligence (AI), 3D Scanning, including Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Digital Twins.