MachinesTalk uses LoRa to track construction workers

  • March 8, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

Saudi Arabian IoT service provider MachinesTalk is to provide smart badges for Red Sea Development construction workers building a massive tourism complex.

The smart wearable technology and wireless tagging will be used by construction workforce and vehicles at the site on the west coast of Saudi Arabia.

MachinesTalk will deploy LoRaWan technology to cover more than 3500 square kilometres, implementing an IoT platform and providing smart badges for up to 36,000 construction workers, and wireless tags for up to 3000 vehicles.

“Delivering a project of this scale against an ambitious timeline while aiming to meet and exceed the highest international standards for health, safety and sustainability, requires innovations,” said John Pagano, CEO of Red Sea Development. “Our partnership with MachinesTalk will play an important role in ensuring the welfare of our workers, given their proven track record providing smart construction technology and alignment with our business goals.”

Red Sea Development says it is committed to setting standards in worker welfare and was awarded the Excellence in Health & Employee Safety award at Big Project Awards 2020 for its Covid-19 health and safety plan.

“We are honoured to have won this contract with Red Sea Development,” said Nawaaf Alshalani, CEO of MachinesTalk. “It shows real forward thinking and care for employees when a company wants to implement these solutions at such scale. Using IoT technologies will keep the workforce safer and support secure and more efficient operations.”

The technology aims to address four key considerations for the core construction site area of 3500km2 – site security, worker safety, access control and process efficiency.

“We asked ourselves how we could enhance security on our site and enable an efficient construction process at the same time, while considering upwards of 36,000 workers across 3500km2,” said Ian Williamson, Red Sea Development’s chief projects delivery officer. “How could we ensure worker safety in case of health emergencies or prevent workers getting lost in remote locations in the desert or on islands? How could we control access and track the 3000 vehicles of multiple contractors across the construction site, delivering materials, tools and transporting employees?” 

MachinesTalk’s smart badges and tags allow the company to identify workers and vehicles and secure the construction area against unauthorised individual and vehicle access. Individual access rights will be granted based on role, responsibility, category and group of workers. In addition, the possibility of identifying vehicles remotely, geo-fencing perimeters and setting up alerts based on worker and vehicle access breaches will enhance security.

A panic button will enable workers in distress to send an SOS signal back to the security and emergency response centre, allowing response teams to be sent directly to the location of the worker without losing potentially life-saving time.

From a process efficiency perspective, all tagged vehicles will have an estimated time of arrival to ensure there are no delays between required tasks. In addition, alerts will be triggered for idle workers or vehicles to enable improved worker supervision.

The technology will apply to all contractors, who will be able to register their workers and vehicles and receive accreditation for them as required. Real-time and map-based remote tracking of workers and vehicles with heat maps and counts will allow for more effective resource allocation across locations within the construction area.

Given criticality and the ranging temperatures experienced on-site, the smart badge and tag operability will be actively monitored with exchanges of devices with low battery and remote deactivation in cases of loss or misappropriation.

Red Sea Development is a closed joint-stock company wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. It was established to drive the development of a luxury tourism destination that will set standards in sustainable development and position Saudi Arabia on the global tourism map.

The project will be developed over 28,000km2 of pristine lands and waters along Saudi Arabia’s west coast and includes a vast archipelago of more than 90 islands. The destination also features mountain canyons, dormant volcanoes, and ancient cultural and heritage sites. It will include hotels, residential properties, leisure, commercial and entertainment amenities, as well as supporting infrastructure that emphasises renewable energy and water conservation and re-use.

Activity for the first phase of development, which focuses on enabling the infrastructure to support future work, is underway. A marine infrastructure contract awarded in 2019 includes the construction of a 3.3km crossing to Shurayrah (the main hub) and development has begun at the coastal village, which will be home to around 14,000 people who will work there.