New tech to make construction at heights safer

Probuild sensor

Technology specifically designed to make high-level construction work on towers safer is in use at Victoria University's City West Tower.

It aims to automate many of the manual checks and processes associated with safety screens that are usually installed to surround the top deck of towers under construction.

Small sensors (visible above) that create a live, digital map of work zones are applied to the safety screens. The sensors are an adaptation of CSIRO's Bluetooth Low Energy Aware Tracking (BLEAT) technology, a world-first developed by Probuild in partnership with Ynomia. The tech is being used in different ways across the Probuild business, including tracking façade panels from overseas manufacture to on-site installation.

Instead of supervisors having to manually check and monitor the position of screens, the sensors feed live data to an online system that's accessible on mobile devices by on-site supervisors, key management and staff at all times. Sensor data builds a map of operational safety zones, showing which formwork protection screens are safely in place and which areas are currently 'locked down', meaning that the zone is not safe to work in below. The real-time map also provides data about who is currently working in each operational zone.

Probuild screenshot

Probuild, says managing director Luke Stambolis, prefers to work with 'real-time autonomous data' rather than manual data input. "We want to know about potential issues before they actually become a problem. We want to be alerted to key indicators early, rather than respond to lagging indicators after problems have already started to progress," he says. "The more we can do of that, the safer we can be as a business.

"By automating key checks and processes, this safety technology reduces the chance of manual errors and human oversight, allowing our team to make more effective, informed decisions that result in positive safety outcomes. It’s one less thing to worry about in a very high risk environment."