Tech For the Guys in Hardhats

July 28, 2014 | by

Technology wears many hats. It is a central part of everything we do. It is the ubiquitous fabric of modern society. It is no longer just for nerds and geeks. It powers every kind of human endeavour including law enforcement, crime solving, medicine and healthcare, entertainment, even religion. Nothing is left untouched by technology.

hardhatOne of its many hats that we do not often consider is the hardhat. Perhaps that is because we think of construction as a manual process. It is easy to envision a husky guy in a hardhat on a work site hammering nails into a board. That is simply not the way its perspective, they would like to get credit for the experience they have gained. How do they convey their experience beyond simple word of mouth?

Smart ID systems that use QR codes solve this problem by allowing managers to securely catalogue the work a labourer has done. According to this:

A major construction company specializing in building wind turbines is now printing all their employee ID cards with unique QR codes. Their utility-industry clients, and engineers from the turbine manufacturers can verify on-site the training and qualifications of any installer, since advanced skills are required to guarantee maximum energy output. Anyone with a smartphone can scan an employee

Project management software

Managing unskilled workers is hard. But managing whole projects with thousands of moving parts is even harder. One project in particular was described as having:

a team of 5,700 people from 380 companies in 29 countries processed no fewer than eight million documents, drawings and items of correspondence.

This is not the sort of thing that can be managed in a typical productivity suite. This requires industrial-grade software. You can get more details from this construction software blog.


These days, the consumer tech industry is all abuzz about wearables. At the moment, that is just shorthand for face computers and smart watches. Neither item has proved particularly popular among consumers. Google Glass just makes a person look stupid. And smart watches are expensive and not very stylish. Their utility is also questionable. Despite this, companies are forging ahead to be first to make these items in hopes that someone will take the bait.

It turns out those companies might be looking for love in all the wrong places. If this article from CareerOne is correct, the wearable market might find its niche in the construction field. Smartphones and tablets are already being used to full advantage on work sites. wearables might just be the next logical progression. Construction workers wear big, yellow hats and orange vests. They are not exactly a fashion-forward group. A face computer and a bulky watch might even improve their look. It certainly couldn’t hurt. And there are plenty of use cases for such devices. Here is one example from the article:

..instead of having to be babysat, apprentices could be issued with a set of Google Glasses loaded with a trove of interactive training materials. And if you found yourself missing a vital part while building something, you could just whisper, “I need a gold-plated thread-cutting machine screw” and have one delivered to you from the other side of the worksite – or even the other side of the world.

Construction workers are carrying more than hammers and screw-drivers. They are carrying smart IDs, make use of high-tech management software, and are on the cutting edge of mobile device utilization. It is only fitting that the people who construct our future are getting the most out of the tech of today.


View all

view all