Guest Blog: How cloud-based technology takes the pain out of monitoring concrete floor dryness

Concrete Inspector Indoors
Industrial Measurements

By Rick Yelton

Editor-at-Large for World of Concrete

Dedicated applications using cloud technology are helping construction teams build more efficiently and with better quality. Recently Vaisala has introduced a new approach to the monitoring of the relative humidity levels in a freshly placed concrete slab. The combination of a cloud-based data service and state-of-the-art moisture monitoring instrumentation will help solve one of concrete construction’s most common challenges.

Project managers are continually searching for effective ways to streamline a project’s critical path. On many projects, waiting for the testing agency to provide updates on a concrete floor’s relative humidity is a pain point. Project managers can’t authorize the final flooring installation until the slab’s internal relative humidity is reduced to a specified level. Surface treatment product manufacturers set target requirements that are low enough to allow proper adhesion and to avoid moisture-related defects.

Vaisala’s Jade Smart Cloud is a cloud-based data system for reliable wireless online humidity measurement monitoring that can help reduce the wait for test results. All the data from in-situ boreholes is instantaneously captured and uplifted to the cloud. Approved members of the construction team can safely access this secured, important information through web browsers on mobile phones, tablets, or PCs. This system digitizes what traditionally has been a labor-intensive and paper-based transfer of information.

Why real-time monitoring of relative humidity shortens a project’s timeline

The time it takes for concrete slab to dry is dependent on many variables, such as ambient temperatures, environmental conditions, and concrete mix designs. Thus, drying periods can extend from 14 days to 28 days, and even beyond, often disrupting a project’s schedule at a critical point. 

About twenty years ago, testing instrument manufacturers stepped up to radically change the guesswork involved in measuring a slab’s relative humidity. Vaisala was one of the first manufactures to offer in-situ borehole measurement meters following the ASTM F2170 test procedure. This highly accurate procedure has become the preferred determination method. What hasn’t changed, until now, is how technicians, project managers, and contractors monitor, review, and share this testing data.

Using the cloud for sharing

Vaisala’s Jade Smart Cloud service transforms jobsite data sharing using industrial-level technology. The system’s infrastructure was developed for applications and settings requiring high-quality, secure, and reliable monitoring of humidity measurements such as data centers, museums, and laboratories. And this system comes with its special features to high-tech construction technology at an opportune time.

Construction professionals are moving towards “Digital Lean” in their operations. This approach encourages companies to employ digital technologies and proprietary data services to feed real-time jobsite data into their project management systems.

Managers routinely assess the value of these new services on how they quantitatively increase the efficiency of their processes. Vaisala’s Jade Smart Cloud is an effective process addition with which project managers can achieve aspects of the 5 Six Sigma goals.

Vaisala's Jade Smart Cloud allows a greater focus on the customer

Creating a high performance, durable floor is a detailed process. In the industry’s most-referenced document on the topic, ACI 302.2R-06 Guide for Concrete for Concrete Slabs that Receive Moisture Sensitive Flooring Materials, experts advise contractors to carefully monitor a slab’s relative humidity and other moisture-related conditions when flooring is to be placed on concrete. Moisture originating in or moving through concrete slabs can cause blisters, debonding, stains, and microbial growth.

Their warning is based on historical data that there have been substantial costs incurred by contractors to rectify when proper procedures are not followed. The most common cause of floor failure is when materials are applied to a concrete floor that isn’t dry enough. Owners aren’t happy – there are repair costs and the disruption to important procedures and earnings.  

Project managers have relied on Vaisala moisture testing technology to help avoid the potential for floor failure for almost two decades. Technicians count on their Vaisala Measurement Kit SHM40 to provide accurate results. These devices have long been incorporated in the International Concrete Repair Institute’s Concrete Slab Moisture Testing Program.

By subscribing to the Jade Smart Cloud and upgrading to the new CWL100 data loggers, monitoring for potential problems is fast-tracked. Results are provided as they are measured, allowing testing engineers access to current data they need to alert subcontractors of the availability of the concrete floor for treatment.

With non-paper notification, owners and general contractors are kept up to date on the drying status. The digital service reduces anxiety, unnecessary emails, and site visits. Users can download data into appropriate project files for status, reference, and comparison to past projects.

Vaisala's Jade Smart Cloud eliminates process waste

The Jade Smart Cloud system delivers several solutions that eliminate many of process inefficiencies to floor moisture measurement and reporting. ​​​​​​

  • For the testing lab, once the CWL100 data loggers are installed, they upload measurements without an inspector’s visit. And just as important, technicians can be alerted of a condition, such as a malfunction or damage, which would require immediate attention to avoid loss of data.  
  • Technicians can monitor data logger readings 24-7-365 from both their offices and personal devices. The collected information is digitally transferred through the cloud to a secure server. The transfer eliminates the potential of misplaced reports.
  • Lab managers can use the Jade Smart Cloud service to conduct concurrent measurements at several locations without adding additional staff.
  • Contractors can avoid delays from extended slow floor drying resulting from unfavorable jobsite conditions. The Jade Smart Cloud is robust enough to include other measurements of jobsite data. Vaisala offers a wall mounted data logger that concurrently monitors a site’s ambient temperature and relative humidity. Superintendents can verify the general site, such as enclosures, heating, and dehumidification, are being maintained as specified in contract documents.
  • Project managers can eliminate errors of data interpretation using the Jade Smart Cloud system. Traditional single borehole data only provides spot readings. With the Jade Smart Cloud output, users have a more complete view of the drying process across the entire test area. Users can also develop approaches that allow for trend analysis, with which they can forecast an expected time for the target relative humidity level.

The Jade Smart Cloud system easily adds value  

Incorporating Vaisala's Jade Smart Cloud system into a subscriber’s data system does not add any process steps. The cloud service is easily managed, requiring no interaction from a subscriber’s IT department for either setup or maintenance. Subscribers are always using the latest version as the service provides automatic updates to the latest software revision along with automatic firmware updates for access points.

Ease of setup extends into the field. Once the inspector installs the probe into the borehole, the CWL100 data logger connects instantly to the CA10 Cloud Access Point. The connection requires no device activation or configuration. The CA10 access device also connects to the cloud.

The Jade Smart Cloud system provides subscribers a new level of data security on the job site. Data transmission between the data loggers and the access point occur on LoRa, a dedicated long-range radio signal.

Vaisala engineers chose LoRa because it hosts reliable signal transmission. LoRa signals are not affected by transmissions from nearby devices and equipment. LoRa signals also solve concerns about bandwidth, which is a common jobsite problem with Wi-Fi technology.

The LoRa network is especially suited for concrete construction jobsites, where signals may need to travel through concrete and steel elements for long distances. This feature enables one CA-10 access device to collect from up to 32 CWL100 data loggers installed in a broad measurement area.

The Jade Smart Cloud allows better team communication

The American Society of Concrete Contractors emphasizes the importance of team communication in constructing concrete floors that will be covered. In their Position Statement #10, Moisture-Sensitive Floor Covering on Concrete Slabs, the association recommends that the independent testing laboratory who performs floor moisture testing share copies of their results with all the participants who were involved in the pre-job conference. On many projects, this team includes owners, general contractors, the placing contractor, and the flooring contractor. All team members use the up-to-date status to adjust their critical paths and complete the project faster.

Achieving this goal is easy with the Jade Smart Cloud. The account holder owns the data. They can grant access to an unlimited number of individual users. The cloud service also allows for an unlimited number of concurrent users.

Account holders easily manage access to the data flow. Access can be organized by company, position, and projects. Users can also customize their data review from the list of active loggers on a jobsite. For example, the subscriber can organize readings floor by floor in a multistory structure.  

Another benefit is that all data readings are stored on the cloud service for two years. With its easy access, approved users can download data for client review and analysis.

The Jade Smart Cloud supports a culture of change and flexibility

This shelf-ready, robust, and proven service can be a tool to transform construction projects with concrete floor slabs that will be covered. Testing labs and contractors who subscribe to the service demonstrate their commitment to providing the best-in-class solutions by which to shorten the waiting interval for floor treatments with instant relative humidity measurements.

When the Vaisala Jade Smart Cloud service is on the job, everyone can be assured of an efficient operation.

To learn more about the Jade Smart Cloud system, CONTACT US.

Watch our video Vaisala wireless humidity measurements for construction to see the Jade Smart Cloud system in action and how it makes continuous monitoring easy and efficient in construction sites:


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