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Using phones smartly to reap the benefits

A smartphone is found in almost everbody’s pocket these days.

But one place that you shouldn’t usually see them is on a construction site, with many contractors banning their use for important safety reasons.

CN last week received a new smartphone that has been designed specifically for construction, however, and which does something unique that its maker claims no other phone has done before.

Bullitt is the company behind the phone, the Cat S60. And its USP is the fact that it incorporates thermal imaging technology, which it says is a world first.

On-site test

I took the phone with me on a recent site visit with M&E specialist NG Bailey, which regularly uses advanced thermal imaging technology to check connections, monitor plant performance and carry out other surveys and analysis.

While on site, safety was being very strictly monitored due to the dangerous nature of rail work.

And here’s where the first problem with the Cat S60 became apparent: the site and the contractors working on it have a strict no phones policy, so how do you take advantage of it?

“While you might not be using it for a call, it does promote the phone coming out of the pocket, which is a potential grey area,” operations director David Jones told me.

But the thermal imaging technology itself did impress, with Mr Jones and other NG Bailey staff seeing potential for its use, especially in its portability – although they all stressed they would need to test its accuracy before giving a fuller verdict, ensuring it was all calibrated correctly.

“While you might not be using it for a call, it does promote the phone coming out of the pocket, which is a potential grey area”

David Jones, NG Bailey

Another sustainability professional I spoke to suggested the phone could also be useful in their line of work for monitoring thermal performance, even if just as a quick glance before more full and accurate tests are carried out.

The Cat S60 is part of a wider trend towards using apps and mobile devices on construction sites, something that is only going to increase.

We’re already seeing tablets used to report and take photos of site hazards, for example – so could rules banning phones on site be relaxed in cases where they have a safety benefit?

Contractors might have to start thinking, as technology becomes ever-more useful and ubiquitous, about how they can incorporate them into health and safety policies in a sensitive and intelligent way.


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