Smart sensors to reduce risk of hazards at construction site

Construction sites are at risk primarily from three major hazards: fire, water and mold damage. While recent improvements in safety technology have focused on protecting workers, safeguarding the site itself from such hazards has not been the target, costing construction and insurance companies millions of dollars in damages.

However, Pillar Technologies, a startup from New York, has now developed a smart sensor system for construction sites which would not only ensure real-time alerts but also provide a long-term analysis of these accidents’ risk level.

The sensors, slightly smaller than a shoebox, are to be placed one per every 2000 sq. ft. building space throughout a construction site, and can detect numerous environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, dust particulates, pressures, noise vibration and even volatile organic compounds which are produced from increased levels of varnish or paint.

Data from hundreds of these sensors can then be accumulated and analyzed, enabling Pillar Technologies to comprehend the variations in the environmental conditions across the construction site. These analytics can then be provided to builders and contractors at a monthly subscription fee until construction work is complete.

The major advantage of this sensor system is the real-time alerts, such as rising temperatures or humidity, which it provides to site managers. According to Alex Schwarzkopf, co-founder of Pillar Technologies, ensuring timely provision of this information to contractors can mitigate or even prevent damages before they occur. For instance, the humidity increase in one area of the construction site can be highlighted and water damage controlled before it spreads to other parts of the building.

The second major benefit allows Pillar Technologies to provide an analysis of data over time so that contractors can assess their job sites over the entire lifecycle of the job. For instance, contractors can be informed of days where workers were exposed to high levels of dust, and whether this could be prevented in future.

The data can also be used to check compliance. Schwarzkopf explained that when construction defect claims arise, builders and building owners usually lack data to strengthen their assertions, but a record of the environmental conditions over a building’s entire lifecycle will provide reference data to both parties, potentially saving either party millions of dollars in defect claims.

Currently, the company is focused on directly selling their services to contractors and construction companies, but ultimately aims at working with insurance companies as channel partners. It believes that insurance companies would offer a price break in site insurance to builders who use Pillar’s solution as it would reduce the risks of site damage.

Although the startup has not disclosed its price, it will be charging per square foot for both initial set up fee (to deploy sensors) and monthly fee to supply the analytics until the job is done, after which the sensors will be removed. The company asserts that it will be extremely affordable for construction sites, adding that it has already worked with 4 pilot sites last year, and hopes to do 8-10 more in the coming year.

More information can be found at: Pillar Technologies.

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