Construction company owners need to keep pace with technological changes and learn how to leverage technology to best serve their business.
One such technological advancement that provides numerous benefits to the operations in the construction niche is the Bluetooth beacon.
Many construction businesses have found that integrating Bluetooth beacons into their daily tasks makes for a more accurate and efficient workflow.
To help you achieve the same efficiency, this post will discuss what a Bluetooth beacon is, why you should use one, and the best ways to do so.
In this article...
What Is a Bluetooth Beacon?
A Bluetooth beacon is a small battery-operated device that is easily attachable to any number of assets.
Through radio-based technology called Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), the beacon transmits data to other Bluetooth devices.
The transmitted data, such as the GPS location, temperature, or an identification code, is then extremely useful for construction site managers and inventory controllers.
Bluetooth beacons are an invaluable tool when it comes to locating items or guaranteeing that valuable assets are secure.
Asset tracking providers such as GoCodes can integrate Bluetooth beacons with GPS capabilities.
In addition to providing tremendous benefits to construction business owners and job site managers who want to improve the efficiency of their tracking efforts, this method of data transmission is also well-suited to warehouse and inventory environments.
This is in no small part because most employees are already familiar with the devices that are typically used to pick up the Bluetooth beacon’s signal.
Since employees are already used to smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, training with a new Bluetooth beacon system is therefore much easier than introducing a completely new form of technology.
Why You Should Use Bluetooth Beacons
As a low-energy and flexible technology, Bluetooth beacons are deployable in a wide range of conditions and in almost any industry.
Let’s take a look at some specific ways in which they are applicable in the construction context.
Enables Construction Site Monitoring
In the same way Bluetooth beacons are utilized to help streamline tasks at a warehouse or traditional office space, site managers can apply them to site monitoring.
Construction companies often conduct work at multiple sites at once, sometimes far from headquarters.
Sites may lie in remote areas and prove difficult to reach quickly in the event of an emergency.
The data collected with the help of Bluetooth beacons is useful for monitoring these remote locations.
As such, this technology provides greater control over each of a company’s projects, which quickly translates to improved project coordination, greater efficiency, and increased customer satisfaction.
Another obvious use for on-site Bluetooth beacons is security. Bluetooth beacons are indeed a strong option for surveillance and on-site safety.
For instance, when an asset leaves the range of a beacon, alarms can be raised, thus preventing loss or theft. We cover the latter in more detail in one of the subsequent sections.
In addition, your fleet and heavy machinery are easily outfitted with Bluetooth technology, as are any obstructions or danger zones on work sites.
Here is a look at how Bluetooth beacons can help large and unwieldy machines avoid potential obstacles:
As you can see, the BLE receiver and transmitter units work together to help the operator of the heavy machinery keep clear of people or easy-to-miss objects.
Finally, Bluetooth beacon monitoring systems are easily configured to constantly report on temperature, air quality, potentially hazardous gasses, noise levels, and more.
This is also a tremendous help in maintaining and proving compliance with safety or municipal codes.
Improves Resource Management
A system that relies on Bluetooth beacons has the potential to lower your project costs.
Beacons can help to provide a more accurate and up-to-date overview of assets and potentially help provide a warning against issues in the supply chain.
Resolving these potential problems before they escalate benefits both the client and the construction company.
With real-time and more comprehensive information, managers and decision-makers are better equipped to allocate assets, as well as reposition employees or fleet vehicles.
Because Bluetooth beacons are quite small and easy to maintain, they can be placed virtually anywhere on an asset, even in places that aren’t quite so visible, which protects them from tampering.
This diagram of a GoCodes Bluetooth beacon shows that it measures only 38 mm in height and 47 mm in width:
In addition, Bluetooth beacons provide a precise idea of where assets or inventory are located within warehouses or work sites.
Not only does this provide invaluable assistance with finding misplaced items, it also allows your team members to locate assets that are stored in places that are difficult to reach, or behind other assets.
Using a Bluetooth beacon, you can find or check on the condition of important assets without disturbing the workspace surrounding it.
Helps Prevent Asset Theft
Some estimates place the losses due to stolen assets in the construction industry at over $1 billion.
That is a staggering number, so it’s no wonder that companies put significant effort and resources into combating theft.
Many companies might use security camera systems, extra lighting, or alarm systems to alert law enforcement or security teams to trespassing or break-ins.
These are all useful for site security, but Bluetooth beacons provide a more unobtrusive way to avoid common types of theft from construction sites.
Put simply, they are more difficult for potential thieves to anticipate or disable.
Here’s a look at how to use a “fixed beacon approach” to help secure a work site:
When Bluetooth beacons are placed in specifically chosen locations, the data they feed to a central system can even help with the investigation in the event of theft.
If assets with a Bluetooth beacon attached are removed from a specified range, administrators are immediately notified.
In the most user-friendly systems, these alerts are sent via text message.
Timely alerts increase the chance of disrupting a robbery attempt or quickly tracking down any stolen property.
What Can Bluetooth Beacons Be Used For?
The uses we’ve described in the previous sections are just the beginning of the many ways Bluetooth beacons can be implemented in the construction industry.
They can do much more than contribute to security measures or environmental monitoring.
Here are three other ways a construction company can quickly capitalize on the many advantages that a beacon system can offer.
Employee tracking via Bluetooth beacon is helpful not only in proving code compliance or using wearables to monitor your team’s health in potentially hazardous conditions.
Information about the employees’ location offers authorized personnel the ability to see how a job site is populated in a single glance.
Since a tiny Bluetooth beacon is easily integrated with an ID tag or card, workforce automation streamlines the clock-in/clock-out procedure and is far more reliable than traditional punch card systems.
Here’s a photo of a typical Bluetooth-enabled ID badge:
Many of the location-based qualities shown above are especially useful in construction, such as motion detection, certification storage, and the ability to send distress signals.
A Bluetooth beacon system can also show how work order flow is proceeding without interrupting your team for updates.
Finally, employee tracking allows for an instant view of which work-stations or technological tools are available for use.
All of these implementations can be highly useful in construction projects.
Automated asset tracking is a highly effective way to maintain better institutional control, data storage, and information analysis.
For instance, our own solution, GoCodes, is an asset tracking system that enables you to locate items, alert security teams to beacon removal, and simplify tool check-in/check-out.
Asset tracking makes advanced data analysis instantaneous and far more accurate.
It improves staff accountability, streamlines maintenance protocols, boosts consistency, and eases inventory audits.
A GoCodes Bluetooth beacon is pictured below:
The beacon weighs just 25g, is waterproof, made of silicone, and has a replaceable battery life of about 4 years.
GoCodes’ Bluetooth beacons are, therefore, rugged enough to endure placement on assets that might subject them to rapid vibration, loud noises, extreme temperatures, and inclement weather, while also being light and easy to place.
Your construction fleet likely represents the bulk of your company’s asset budget, and the vehicles and other assets it contains are often dispersed across different locations.
Because they are so widely dispersed, we typically associate GPS systems with fleet management, seeing as the range at which they operate, which relies on satellite signal, exceeds that of Bluetooth-based systems.
Compared to GPS, Bluetooth-based systems are more suitable for tracking assets within a limited area, such as a garage space, parking lot or construction site.
Because of this, the two systems are usually combined, as is the case with GoCodes.
GoCodes’ system combines GPS-enabled QR codes—which, as you may have guessed, use the GPS function of the mobile device that was used to scan the asset in order to determine the asset’s location—with short-range Bluetooth beacons.
Bluetooth beacons boast low battery power consumption, which means that they don’t have to rely on utility lines or a generator.
They are also reusable, so if, for instance, one asset in your fleet reaches the end of its useful life and is replaced with a newer model, the Bluetooth beacon is easily transferable.
Therefore, when used as part of an asset tracking system, the beacon is outfitted with a scannable QR code:
A GoCodes QR code is paired with a unique identifier and easily scanned image.
The QR code can contain a wealth of information, such as the asset’s manufacturer, operation manuals, and maintenance history.
This information is extremely helpful when working with heavy machinery or vehicles.
In short, investing in a smart construction site provides tremendous insight and important data.
Bluetooth beacons are radio-based technological advancements that are easily adaptable to almost any form of information gathering or location signaling on a construction site.
They enable worksite monitoring, improve resource management, and help to prevent asset theft.
These beacons are also easily pressed into service for employee tracking, asset tracking, and fleet management.