The Job-Site of Tomorrow is Here Today

This year’s NECA Show in Philadelphia offered attendees a glimpse into how your customers will do their jobs in the not-too-distant future.

Manufacturers of electrical equipment and vendors of construction software, estimating systems and other job-site tools and services have always focused on helping electrical contractors do their jobs faster, safer, more efficiently, and more profitably.

But it’s amazing how so many of the new tools and services they showed off at the recent 2018 NECA Show incorporated web-based apps, the Internet of Things (IoT), drones, paperless job-site solutions, augmented/virtual reality, and the latest generation of 18V batteries and LED lighting technology. Let’s take a look at some technologies that were on the NECA show floor or discussed during the seminars.

IoT is for real in certain applications. Sensors no bigger than an eraser on the end of your pencil can transmit an amazing array of information from job sites, including data on heat, moisture, vibration, intruder detection, and dozens of other applications. In one seminar, “Implementing an IoT-Enabled Worksite,” Jeff DiLullo of United Rentals offered real-world examples of IoT in the field, worker safety, business intelligence, materials management, and trade sequencing.

He is also working now on a project with autonomous (driverless) vehicles on a large solar installation where the trucks are delivering and pre-positioning equipment on the field. This allows workers to spend more time on installing the panels, and not just driving equipment out to the job sites.

Drones are taking off. It’s amazing how quickly drones are being used out in the field, and how many NECA exhibitors were showing off their drone technology. In the Techtopia session, “Drones & Energy: Using Drones for Industrial Inspection,” the folks from B&C Aerial Solutions, Indianapolis, gave a nice summary of where drones fit into the electrical contracting field.

Paperless job-site solutions to clean up the communications on construction projects. It was hard to find time to visit all of the booths at NECA that offered some sort of mobile web-based solution in this area. Many of the companies exhibited near the Techtopia pavilion and did sessions promoting their products and services. One of the exhibitors, TopCon Solutions, exhibited what it had to offer in the way of job layout, BIM, AutoCAD, and related software and solutions. The company is partnering with a new player in this niche, TriBuild, which announced at NECA that two executives from Trade Service/Trimble, Tony Dubreville and Tod Moore, were joining the team.

Re-imagining the job site with augmented/virtual reality. At the 2016 NECA Convention in Boston, when Trimble let booth visitors try on VR (virtual reality) goggles to see job sites in 3D, it seemed like something from the far-off future. The future seems to have arrived early, as several of this year’s NECA exhibitors were showcasing their capabilities in this area. One interesting booth in this area was Sanveo’s BIM Cave, which gave attendees the chance to see a virtual three-dimensional design of a hospital room with augmented reality/virtual reality glasses.

In addition to giving attendees tours of the BIM Cave executives from the Newark, Calif.-based Sanveo discussed additional value-added services they now offer, such as electrical engineering, seismic design for MEP systems, and field layout solutions (BIM to field).

Irshad Rasheed, the company’s COO, said in a press release about the new services, “Sanveo has been consulting some of the biggest and most prominent electrical contractors in the country for the past decade. While working closely with these electrical contractors, Sanveo recognized a severe need in the market space for a technology consulting firm that can provide end-to-end solutions for all phases of a project. We’re talking about a company that has strong capabilities in design, pre-construction, construction, and facility management, and we are confident that Sanveo will fill that void.”

It’s always interesting to see new technologies whose time has come. NECA gave attendees a good taste of the next generation of products for the job-site at this year’s event.

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