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Solar installation LL28 / iStock / Getty Images Plus
United Rentals is working on a large solar installation where it is providing driverless trucks to allow the customer to use workers for more valuable tasks on the project.

Implementing an IoT-Enabled Job-Site

You hear a lot about IoT (Internet of Things) these days, but much of the talk is coming from industry consultants who haven’t spent much time out on job-sites and handle the topic from the 35,000-ft level.

The Monday morning presentation by Jeff DiLullo of United Rentals was a refreshing change from this perspective because he offered real-world examples of IoT in the field. Some of the more common applications include worker safety, business intelligence, materials management and trade sequencing.

He is 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-site.

DiLullo also gave the example of using drones to do internal inspections of a large industrial boiler. In the past, his customer had to spend approximately $70,000 to set up scaffolding inside the boiler and send in workers to inspect it. He proposed using a drone, at a cost of about $5,000, to do the inspection and to send the data it collected to the customer.

DiLullo said the key to implementing any IoT technology is to listen closely to customers to learn exactly what they want to accomplish. This often required logging many hours on customers’ job-sites observing work processes. “Winners solve problems in the field, not in Silicon Valley,” he says. “By getting feedback from the field, we do not overthink the problem.”

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