Buildings are more vulnerable to the weather during the construction stage, especially when structural components and heavy equipment are being installed. The weather can cause severe accidents like crane collapses, and even destroying a building in process. If you want to ensure the successful completion of a construction project, the weather cannot be ignored.

Construction companies often plan their activities based on weather forecasts. While this is better than having no weather planning at all, there is a limitation: weather forecasts provide general information for an area, but not the specific conditions at project sites. Also consider that buildings affect wind patterns, and especially skyscrapers like those in New York City.

Risk management is a very important part of project management, and extreme weather is among the main risks in the construction industry. Risk management is so important for project success, that the Project Management Institute (PMI) dedicates an entire chapter to the topic in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).


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Benefits of Weather Monitoring for Construction Projects

When the weather is monitored at a construction site, working conditions are safer because activities can be suspended during dangerous winds. Weather forecasts provide a general outlook, but you have no way to predict a sudden gust of wind based on them.

Weather monitoring also prevents damage to the project itself, since components that are easily blown away can be secured. Project managers can also suspend risky activities - for example, there can be severe damage if a crane drops a heavy piece of equipment during a gust of wind.

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Another application of weather monitoring is preventing conflict between project owners and contractors. Consider that projects have deadlines, and contractors may face hefty fines for missing them, unless the delay can be justified.

  • Since weather perception is subjective, a missed deadline due to harsh weather can be difficult to justify without proof.

  • However, a weather monitoring system with data storage can keep a record of weather conditions. At the end of the project, a missed deadline can be justified with the datalog of unfavorable weather.

Keep in mind that a weather monitoring system is as reliable as the weather instruments it uses. For example, an anemometer with poor accuracy may produce false alarms frequently, causing unnecessary work suspensions.

Selecting a Weather Monitoring System for a Building Project

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Weather monitoring may sound like an expensive concept, but you don’t need a scientific weather station for each project site. There are compact systems that have been designed specifically for outdoor use in heavy industries like construction.

  • Consider the typical conditions in the construction industry: You should look for a weather monitoring device with a waterproof, corrosion-proof and dust-tight enclosure.

  • The device must also be resistant to impact, in case it is knocked down by a strong wind.

  • Project managers must be able to check weather data at any time, so you need a device that allows remote wireless access. A weather monitoring system that must be dismounted for data retrieval is not useful in construction applications.

  • Also consider that a gust of wind can happen at any time, so you need a tool that can send automatic notifications. Knowing that the wind was dangerous one hour ago is not helpful for project managers!

Considering the seasons is also important when planning a construction project. For example, weather-sensitive activities should not be planned for a time of the year when storms are common. Otherwise, you will be suspending work frequently, delaying the entire project.

Minimizing Weather Risks with Prefabrication

Prefabrication is a promising concept in the construction industry, since building modules are assembled away from the project site in a controlled factory environment. While site activities must be suspended when the weather is unfavorable, prefabrication can continue regardless of outdoor conditions.

Prefabrication involves transporting the modules to the site for assembly, but the portion of the construction process that happens outdoors is reduced significantly. While the weather can still slow down modular construction, the project is much less vulnerable than another one with traditional construction methods.

 

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