Last year, Dell launched their first Connect What Matters competition, which challenged participants to come up with an IoT solution with real business impact using the Dell Edge Gateway for IoT. One of the winning entries was a concrete monitoring solution put forth by Dublin-based We Monitor Concrete (WMC).
The solution uses digital RFID-based sensors to collect live data on variables like concrete moisture content, temperature – and even delivery method – to monitor how concrete is curing. Those sensors transmit data back to a Dell gateway where it’s analyzed and transmitted to a database in the cloud, making live data visible to the customer via an online dashboard. Users can leverage that information to speed up or slow down the curing time. This allows construction companies to accelerate formwork and reduce build time up to 30 percent, according to John O’Connor, Director of Product Development at WMC, massively reducing build costs. More importantly, tracking the curing process can also help users prevent cracking that could lead to structural flaws by alerting crews when conditions are causing the concrete to cure too quickly.
“If concrete is not cured correctly, you can end up with a lot of problems,” explained O’Connor. “Some of these causes include internal cracking in the concrete, which might not show up immediately, but within five years, it usually will show up and can cause failure of the actual concrete base of a windmill, a bridge, a building…”
“The WMC entry is a complete IoT solution for the monitoring of concrete products,” O’Connor said. “Up until now, there’s been no traceability on concrete or how it’s curing or anything like that. Everything has been based on historic data.”
WMC stores all gathered data so that well after construction is complete, inspectors from government bodies, demolition companies, etc., can use an RFID scanner to access information such as how the concrete cured, who poured it, and what standards were adhered to.
When WMC started working on the solution seven years ago, getting it working properly was a challenge. Once Dell came on the scene, things got a lot easier.
“The Dell Gateway just does everything that we need it to do. There are a lot of gateways out there in the market at the moment, but they’re not all offering the versatility that Dell does. We run the Dell Gateway on a solar panel and it seems to be the most power efficient at the moment,” said O’Connor. “It’s a whole new technology. It’s a whole new world.”