In the early stage of construction, sites are often void of luxuries such as power, internet and telecommunications. The most organised site managers will have a generator and fuel at the top of their requirement list and will be relentless in their pursuance of power. Mobile technology enables sites to have a lifeline to the corporate offices and maybe access to basic connectivity allowing the site team to function for a limited period, mainly during enabling works. There is a definite demand for internet on construction sites.
Internet connectivity gets less attention and below are a few good reasons it shouldn’t.
Demand for Internet on Construction Sites
Modern construction sites need information to move freely
As programmes get more demanding there is a greater demand from the site team for information. Email satisfactorily answers basic questions and provides minimal support to the team at the coal face. However when a sub-contractor requires the latest CAD, DWG or even 3D images to carry out their role and maintain programme integrity; this information needs to move succinctly. Without a platform to share this type of information the process of passing information reverts to archaic methods one step short of a snail mail.
Office equipment needs connectivity
Modern printers and most supporting pieces of office equipment use network features and enable the whole site team to share items like printers without disturbing others or chopping and changing cables or leads. Now the office has the ability to function.
What about Site Security?
Often overlooked until a member of the SHEQ team says there should be CCTV overlooking aspects of the site entrance or storage areas. Any idea what most modern CCTV systems with remote monitoring facilities require to function to their full potential? You guessed it, internet. The only thing worse than not having these systems, is having them without the ability to utilise them.
Communications, office essentials and site security are ‘the basics’ that need internet on construction sites. Then it starts to get more complex.
Internet of Things
What happens when we attempt to integrate the internet of things and fully utilise the data available on a daily basis at site? The ability to quickly refer to how many Trades are working in specific areas of the site in the event of a fire alarm. Include in that the information from the fire alarm. The ability to monitor, order and coordinate deliveries and removals. This connectivity enables the payment of consultants and subcontractors as soon as works are complete and it should all manifest as efficiency on the overall programme.
Common data environment
With the way the technological aspects of the construction industry have evolved and data sharing through common data environments(CDE) the understated little wifi router will become the nucleus of most remote teams. A CDE will require all members to have access to the internet to be able to access whichever cloud based technology it requires. As Building Information Modelling(BIM) continues its envelopment of construction projects the need for a site team to be interconnected is essential.
Construction site internet options
There are a number of internet solutions available depending on the requirements and duration of the project. Here are a few examples.
Short for Digital Subscriber Line, DSL is a very popular choice. The connection is fast and it is widely available
Pros: DSL is definitely fast and reliable. It is available in most urban areas and does not occupy your phone line.
Cons: DSL is a good option but you still need a physical phone line for it to work. Depending on where your site is, that may not be an option or that may take too long.
This is a wireless modem that provides internet service anywhere in the country where the network is available.
Pros: Portable, it’s quick to set up as you literally only need power.
Cons: 3G can be somewhat slow depending on usage and multiple users can slow the transfer of data.
One of our favoured and recommended options is 4G, an upgrade from 3G as it can be up to five times faster. 4G solutions on a construction site are great for temporary solutions as well as a backup service.
Tethering is for those who already have a smartphone such and use a data plan from their provider.
Pros: No additional setup is required
Cons: Not ideal for larger teams and areas of poor reception.
Satellite connections lets you connect to the internet by using a satellite dish. It sounds like a great production, and the price tag reflects that.
Better communication, better connection will allow project managers to be connected with the office, improve common data environment and control resources translating into a business advantage.