After a tough 18 months for the construction industry, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things are gradually returning to normal. Construction companies are increasingly under pressure to go digital to make up for this lost production time, particularly given the recent sharp rise in demand in housebuilding and other sectors. The industry has long faced criticism for projects being delivered over budget and late. Combine this with a lack of skilled workers due to furlough and redundancies, and the rising costs of building materials stuck in the supply chain, and management is feeling the pressure. Construction companies must find other ways to increase their efficiency and sustainability, whilst optimizing how they work and ensuring workforce safety. Onsite connectivity is one promising potential solution to these problems.
They need to innovate by maximizing the potential of advances in software and technology, such as Building Information Modelling (BIM), onsite 3D printing, and augmented reality. All of this requires high speed, reliable and portable onsite internet connectivity, something which has always been hard to come by on construction sites. The lead time for installing fixed fiber communication lines can be months, involving minimum duration contracts or difficult access conditions.
The Landscape Shift with Wireless Route Tunnelling and 5G
The digital revolution is providing a ground-breaking alternative to a fixed-line internet connection, allowing the construction industry to gain new capabilities via wireless onsite connectivity. This is known as ‘route tunneling’, from the main headquarters to the site. Wireless broadband internet, delivering high speed and low latency connectivity via 4G, currently provides most of the connectivity.
In the future, applications needing greater bandwidth for sizeable data transfers will benefit greatly from the rollout of 5G, e.g. when downloading and viewing project data such as CAD drawings. 5G will also enable even more resilient network access to improve onsite safety and compliance and enhance communication between sites and remote workers due to reduced time lag.
Both 4G and 5G technologies are quick and easy to install to enable onsite connectivity, and they are scalable to any size project, from national infrastructure projects and vast office buildings to small timber frame construction sites. Using multiple SIMs and bonded routers, construction sites will have secure access to fiber speed broadband and a reliable VoIP telephone system, allowing any number of users to seamlessly communicate as if they were in a permanent office.
Access control to construction sites is one of the areas where IoT is having a marked impact. Turnstiles and key card readers keep track of contractors entering and leaving sites, providing data for payroll and health and safety reporting. Entry turnstiles can incorporate temperature and mask-wearing checks using contactless technology, invaluable during and post COVID-19, by helping management to keep their workforce safe.
CCTV Monitoring Advances Using Onsite Connectivity Solutions
Security is one of the biggest challenges on any construction project. At one time the only option was to pay for expensive manned guarding, which was often ineffective due to human fallibility. CCTV using cellular connectivity has revolutionized this area. Multi-network SIMs connect to any network to provide ‘always on’ connectivity – an ideal feature for CCTV cameras deployed over multiple locations. By using a private VPN, companies can ensure the complete security of data.
Cellular CCTV cameras provide a cost-effective, efficient, easy to install, rapidly-deployed solution at any scale. The largest projects use multiple mobile CCTV towers to cover the whole site, each with its own power supply and 24/7 remote monitoring. As a project timeline progresses, the solution can be adapted.
New Ways to Ensure Perimeter Detection
Empty sites can seem like an invitation to intruders and criminals; therefore it’s critical to protect expensive assets on site. Physical deterrents, such as perimeter hoardings and anti-climb fencing, alongside smart IoT solutions, such as motion sensors which alert security guards to attend and secure a site, give peace of mind to property owners.
Where properties like warehouses, abandoned housing, and disused buildings lie vacant for periods of time, CCTV monitoring helps to prevent vandalism and antisocial behavior. This in turn lessens the negative impact of such sites on local communities. CCTV also alerts owners to issues caused by storm or flood damage.
Why Working with a Solution Provider is Worth Consideration
Construction companies need high-quality, reliable, onsite connectivity to maximize their workflow and take advantage of new technologies. They need robust access control to carefully monitor the people on their sites during the working day, and CCTV to keep them secure during downtime. Finding experienced and trusted providers who can supply the connectivity solution and services that sites require is crucial.
Working with a solution provider with multiple network providers, to provide a full end-to-end solution with resilient ‘always on’ connectivity will remove the complexity of designing and deploying an IoT solution.
By choosing the right connectivity partner, forward-thinking construction companies will benefit from all the opportunities that the latest advances in technology present and can make all the difference in providing a connectivity solution for your construction application.