Construction sites are extremely complex environments— there are tiers of contractors and subcontractors to manager; complicated logistics; low margins for error; and detailed regulations to follow.
Our challenge was to explore tracking solutions and to prototype a system for tracking onsite workers. The goal was improved worker safety and management.
Client: Clayco | Company: MU/DAI | Role: Design Research Lead
We worked to get up to speed on the industry quickly through interviews and site visits. We learned about the vast complexity of contractors and subcontractors along with the various tiers that they fit within. We talked to office administrators, supervisors and safety officers to learn about the different aspects of managing a construction site. We also observed a working construction site. From here we were able to create personas, flows and a process map to visualize our learnings.
Industry research was conducted to better understand the management of construction sites and best practices. We also conducted competitive research to understand the current landscape. From the competitive research we were able to identify potential vendors and our creative technologist created criteria for us to measure the vendors against.
We moved into the prototype phase through a combination of our own technical solutions developed by our creative technologist and outside vendors. We applied two different tracking technology approaches to two construction sites and recruited workers to be part of our test program. Our team partnered with the onsite supervisors to get everything implemented despite hurdles such as the lack of basic infrastructure (i.e.power). While there were many skeptics on the jobsite, people were overwhelmingly helpful and we visited regularly to get feedback and see things in action.
We conducted onsite observations to both test the technology solutions and to see how the workers were interacting with the solutions. For each site we also collected worker feedback through intercepts and a survey at the end of the study. We also conducted post-mortem interviews with the superintendents and safety supervisors. We learned that both the turnstile and the more unobtrusive sensor systems had gaps in their experience. We also identified some key insights about the implementation of new technologies.
In the end, we decided that this type of IOT solution wasn’t feasible for our construction client. What it came down to in the end was that we didn’t have any good use for the data we collected in their current workflows. The other systems that the administrators and the supervisors used were largely manual and paper based so there wasn’t a simple integration option. Time sheets were completed by hand and then processed by administrators who then entered them, usually into multiple systems. So while we could do it, the data wasn’t going to be worth the effort required to collect it.