WWU Future of Connected Tools
Anvil Studios and Milwaukee Tool partnered to co-sponsor a quarter long project with Western Washington Universities Senior Industrial Design department. The students were given the task of envisioning the future of the construction site and create an ecosystem of products to enhance the work. This ecosystem was designed to monitor construction processes, enhance jobsite communication and facilitate time and cost efficiency.
The goal for this project was to develop a connected tool system to improve key aspects of the commercial construction processes. In order to accomplish this mission, thirteen students began working as individuals and later as teams to explore how interconnected tool systems can generate value.
Tools that interact with each other can benefit both the workers who operate them and the managers who keep track of them within the jobsite. Connected security, mobility and communication tools can improve safety, communication and efficiency on commercial construction sites.
To begin exploring the future of interconnected construction tools, the design teams had to first understand end user needs and the goals of organizational stakeholders.
In the commercial construction industry, laborers, inspectors and managers work together to ensure safe, steady progress. This can only be achieved through the effective implementation of comprehensive security protocols, transportation infrastructures and communication systems.
The designers conducted research in the field and identified key pressure points in commercial construction settings. These insights led to informed design solutions meant to enhance the commercial construction process for laborers and management alike.
WWU Sr ID Professor
WWU Sr ID Class of 2018
From security to movement to visualization, each tool system works to uphold the other while occupying an individual niche within the construction process.
Many job sites remain bright throughout the night. The security team proposed that the integration of a more seamless security lighting system within sites would provide enhanced surveillance opportunities to management. This lighting system works on the perimeter of the site as well as the interior, acting as an egress point for workers in the event of an onsite emergency. To compliment this, laborers can press and hold a hazard tag mounted under the brim of their hardhats to notify management of potential emergencies and, if necessary, request medical help. By providing constant contact between managers and workers, the jobsite can become safer. This hazard tag also provides management with GPS tracking capabilities. Allowing managers to know where their employees are can facilitate improvements to emergency response protocols and just-in-time material deliveries.
In the construction site of the future, workers will be able to catalyze productivity through the use of drone technology, so the movement team worked to realize this vision. Drones can surpass the capabilities of humans in efficient tool delivery, jobsite surveillance, and material tracking. With increasing global interest in autonomous tools, the technology has evolved to streamline processes and enhance connectivity in hazardous environments. The design team developed a construction drone to deliver tools and materials between workers. In addition, the drones can transport other connected Milwaukee tools across the construction site. The device also catalogs progress on the jobsite and relays information to upper management teams. At night, the drone responds to any relevant security alerts produced by the perimeter lighting device.
To ensure close communication between construction project stakeholders, the visualization team conceptualized a jobsite collaboration station intended to streamline interactions between workers and managers. The station provides separate modes for both workers and management, ensuring that only the most pertinent information is available for access by a given worker. Laborers have access to task lists and schedules. They can send and receive messages with management and other workers. For management, the station’s features include GPS personnel tracking, along with the capability to interface with security and movement services. Additionally, the system provides management teams with updated progress reports and daily worker feedback.
Commercial construction work is time intensive and costly. Ultimately, the job is stressful for both day laborers and the managers who organize their work. Providing intuitive user experiences while tools are in operation is vital to the success of the construction program. The connected tools are intended to operate in a way that does not distract from commercial jobsite hazards, allowing those across the construction hierarchy to execute safe, efficient work. When construction is finished, these tool systems will have coordinated to produce a comprehensive history of the entire project. Managers can then use this timeline to improve future processes.