With the advancement of urbanization, the construction of social infrastructure is in full swing. At the same time, IoT technology is developing rapidly, and there is no better sector than the construction industry to adopt IoT innovations to ensure worker safety. The confined construction site and a variety of unexpected risks make the tunnel projects hazardous. Therefore, tunnel monitoring is of great importance to the safety of tunnel building and operation. It is essential that certain solutions and safety protocols should be implemented at the tunnel construction site. In this post, we will explore how the LoRa-based tunnel monitoring system can help ensure worker safety and tunnel building.
What is tunnel monitoring
Tunnel monitoring is a integral part of tunnel engineering, allowing project operators to visualize the conditions of the tunnel to improve stability and safety. Due to the various risks of rockfalls, flooding, and landslides, the adoption of advanced monitoring technology for engineering and construction companies is of great significance. Increasingly, modern information technologies have been integrated into tunnel monitoring to ensure social infrastructure safety, from construction worker tracking to dangerous zone alerts, as well as the ability to collect environmental information automatically.
According to IBIS World, tunnel construction in the United States represented a $5 billion market in 2021, and in Germany, sales in the tunnel industry have grown an average of 5.4% annually since 2017. Despite the tunnel industry is growing steadily, a survey shows that almost half of the construction managers still use manual methods to collect important project information. It seems that the construction industry is a slow adopter of new technologies. As novel approaches bring more efficient operations and significant cost reductions, these hesitant industry players may take the initiative to embrace the wireless monitoring system.
Why choose LoRa technology in smart tunnel monitoring
The traditional wired tunnel monitoring system is really complex due to the large number of laying cables and difficult construction and maintenance. Moreover, long-distance transmission leads to easy interference in data transmission, which reduces the accuracy of collected data. Short-range wireless communication technologies such as WiFi and Zigbee are not suitable in major tunneling projects. Another option is to use cellular technologies, which enables longer communication distance but also consumes high power.
In contrast, the LoRa technology emerging in recent years has well balanced the contradiction between low power consumption and wide coverage. It is obvious that LoRa performs better than traditional IoT technologies in terms of coverage, number of connections, and power consumption. Its communication distance is 3-5 times that of other radio frequencies at the same power consumption. If LoRa technology can be reasonably applied to the field of remote tunnel monitoring, it will play a major role in solving the technical defects existing in the traditional tunnel monitoring system.
Best LoRaWAN applications in smart tunnel construction
Remote wireless monitoring solutions have a significant impact on the construction, maintenance and security of tunnel infrastructure. Applications of LoRaWAN technology are playing an invaluable role in eliminating potential risks and improving efficiency in tunnel construction and operation. Following are some of the 6 examples of LoRa applications that can be applied for tunnel construction monitoring.
Worker tracking inside tunnels
Worker safety always comes first at all times. To ensure construction safety during tunnel construction, project operators should have a comprehensive understanding of the working status and location information of all construction workers. Due to the complexity of the tunnel environment, and the large number of workers and equipment, manual management is a difficult task and lacks accuracy. Therefore, it’s necessary to adopt LoRaWAN personnel tracking technology to manage tunnel construction workers.
Remote management of equipment
The confined and closed tunnel construction site is prone to collisions of various equipment and devices, and the visibility of working conditions is limited, making it even more difficult to manage equipment. In order to manage various types of equipment and machines efficiently, LoRaWAN tracker is used to track their locations. Another more economical approach is to deploy Bluetooth beacons and LoRaWAN Bluetooth gateway. A large number of low-cost beacons can be attached on various devices to track their location.
Tunnel environment monitoring
Environmental factors affecting tunnel construction mainly include humidity and temperature, toxic gas concentration, carbon dioxide concentration, and water leakage that may cause collapse. A variety of environmental sensors such as temperature and humidity sensor, air quality sensor and water leakage sensor are in demand to collect environmental information around the tunnel. The LoRaWAN gateway then transmits all this information to the cloud for processing and analysis. When the gas concentration exceeds a specified threshold, an alarm will be generated.
Geofencing for dangerous zones
The safety management personnel can also set up geolocation fence for dangerous areas to improve construction safety. Once unauthorized construction worker approaches the hazardous area, an instant alert will be triggered to warn the worker not to enter. If the worker ignores the alarm information and enters the dangerous area, the safety manager will be notified immediately so that prompt actions can be taken to address the potential negative situation.
Emergency button trigger
When a disaster or other abnormal situations occurs at the tunnel construction site, the safety operator can send evacuation instructions to all workers in a selected area. The location tracker carried by workers will then prompt them to evacuate the dangerous area urgently through the sound and light alarm. In case of any emergency, the tunnel construction worker can trigger the alarm button to call for help in time. The safety operator will be notified immediately to prevent the dangerous situations from becoming more serious.
Smart condition sensors and modules
It is very important to monitor the change of construction environment for tunnel excavation. In addition to monitoring some basic environmental information, smart sensors and modules are also used to monitor the deformation, strain and movement of the tunnel. Especially in inaccessible locations, smart devices help monitor impending defects to quickly respond to hazards, facilitate strategic decisions to prevent long-term damage, and improve compliance with industry regulations and standards.
Benefits of LoRaWAN in smart tunneling monitoring
The failure and problems of the tunnel may lead to a huge risk of life-threatening. In the past tunnel projects, casualties were not uncommon, but now they are no longer acceptable. That is where the advanced Internet of Things technology comes in help. Automatic and remote tunnel monitoring system supporting LoRaWAN will make risk management easier, more accurate and build a safer workplace. Here are some of the benefits of innovative tunnel monitoring solutions.
Communication over large areas
Although the mobile communication network is gradually improving, there are still many mobile communication blind spots within large tunnels. The long-distance transmission of LoRa and LoRaWAN makes it possible for two-way communication inside and outside the tunnel. The mutual communication among the construction workers makes their working process more efficient and the equipment more coordinated.
Better data collection
The LoRa-enabled smart tunnel monitoring solution consists of various LoRaWAN sensors, modules, and gateways, which enables continuous data can be accessed remotely. Being able to collect all kinds of data about environmental variations and worker status, project managers gain unprecedented insights into the tunnel construction and operation, helping to enhance risk management and improve the ability to tackle safety challenges.
Better controlling to mitigate risks
Sensor-based tunnel monitoring plays an important role in the management and control of tunnel projects. The various data collected by smart devices help project managers make informed decisions and improve their ability to respond to risks. In the event of an emergency, the management platform outside the tunnel can promptly notify the construction personnel to evacuate to ensure the safety of the construction personnel and mitigate risks.
Wired installations is undoubtedly expensive, especially when smart sensors are far from each other and complex device is involved. Moreover, the additional cost of maintenance and reconfiguration is high. Not only is it much less costly to implement a wireless LoRa tunnel monitoring system, but its easy-to-scale feature makes adding new sensors easy to deploy. More importantly, the communication frequency band of LoRa is free of charge, and the low-power consumption allow for long periods of operation during tunnel construction.
Tailor tunnel worker tracking solution with MOKOLoRa
The Internet of Things gives us the power to solve real problems. The future of LoRa in the tunneling industry is bright, which is optimistic as remote monitoring brings numerous benefits. The broader adoption of LoRa in tunnel construction for metros and high-speed trains will make smart tunneling a reality. We have been committed to developing LoRaWAN solutions and hardware that can support people and companies around us. Let us help you build an efficient and safe worker tracking solution for your construction site. Get started talking with a MOKOLoRa expert.