Tracking Jobsite Workers with Wearables Boosts Safety and Productivity

It’s all about managing resources and mitigating risk.

When you hire a subcontractor for a big job, do you know if the sub has the promised number of crew members working on your project on a given day? If a worker fell, how fast would you learn about the incident and be able to locate the worker to render assistance?

Wearable tracking technology can provide instant visibility into your jobsite workforce in these circumstances and many others.

“It’s similar to you wanting to know where your equipment is so that you can better manage it,” said Helge Jacobsen, vice president of operational excellence at United Rentals. “You can make sure your people are safe and that they stay productive.”

Keeping workers safe

When someone enters the jobsite — one of your workers, a sub, or even a visitor — they can clip on a tracking device such as the Spot-r Clip from Triax Technologies. That lets you know where they are at any given time. But these devices aren’t about “spying.” They offer benefits for both management and wearers.

If a worker wearing the device suffers an injury or has a sudden medical problem, he or she can press the emergency button to request help from a designated supervisor. The device is equipped with an accelerometer, gyroscope and altimeter so it can detect falls and will send an automatic alert to appropriate personnel in the event of one. In both cases, managers can get assistance to the worker faster — up to 91 percent faster according to Triax — because they know immediately when something happens and where the worker is.

If a jobsite emergency such as a fire or a chemical leak occurs, managers can trigger an emergency alarm that sounds on each worker’s device. Workers, for their part, can send a notification if they’ve witnessed an unsafe event or condition.

The Spot-r system uses a mesh network to transmit data and includes a Cloud-based dashboard for viewing it.

“It’s similar to you wanting to know where your equipment is so that you can better manage it. You can make sure your people are safe and that they stay productive.”

Helge Jacobsen, Vice President of Operational Excellence at United Rentals.

Boosting productivity

United Rentals is working with Triax Technologies to provide the Spot-r Clip to its customers. One customer uses the devices on a 7-acre tilt-up construction jobsite.

“That project manager now has the ability to proactively manage the site,” said Kevin Noonan, part of United Rentals’ Advanced Solutions Group. “They use it for time and attendance, for compiling daily level of effort, and also for payroll.”

The Spot-r Clip also provides real-time worker location by floor and zone. “We can tailor it by craft type — carpenters vs. electricians vs. laborers vs. drivers, etc. From a management perspective, to see that in real time on a map, that’s incredibly powerful. You can immediately say, ‘Why are they here when they should be there?’”

On small jobsites, knowing who’s onsite is relatively straightforward. But that changes with larger jobsites. “If you have a jobsite with hundreds of people, and you have seven different trades on that jobsite, it can be really difficult to keep track of how many plumbers or electricians you have on, say, the 19th floor,” said Jacobsen.

“You don’t know until you’re behind schedule that you didn’t have enough. Then you find out from the sub that he moved people over to another project or that some workers didn’t show up. This technology gives you real-time visibility into exactly what trades are onsite, how many are onsite, and what zone they’re working in.”

Better still, one clip can be associated with multiple jobsites.

Noted Jacobsen, “Wearable technology is really uptime for the people side of the job.”

For United Rentals customers using Spot-r, the system integrates with Total Control®, United Rentals’ equipment management portal, so construction firms have a complete look at both equipment and worker utilization as well as site safety.

To learn more, ask your United Rentals representative.

Freelance writer Mary Lou Jay writes about business and technical developments in a variety of industries. She has been covering residential and commercial construction for more than 25 years.

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