Taking construction to the intelligent edge with private wireless
A modern construction site faces many challenges. There are multiple parties involved: main contractor, suppliers and their sub-suppliers, customers, planners and regulators to name a few. Various materials need to be ordered, delivered, inspected, stored at site and moved in time to the right workplaces. Tools and machinery need to be rented, used and returned. All this within a tight Takt-Time production schedule, while maintaining strict budget and safety measures. As every building or site is one-of-a-kind however, factory-like production efficiency and scalability are difficult to attain – with a significant amount of working time consumed by unproductive tasks. As a result of all this complexity, the construction industry continues to suffer from low productivity and profitability.
Unlike in many other verticals, where complexity is being solved by the introduction of new digital systems and communication tools, the construction industry is lagging behind and the demand for coordinated solutions is high. Even though workers are equipped with multiple gadgets: phones, tablets, laptops, walkie-talkies, safety-buttons and helmet cams - wearables for all possible purposes, the focus is on solving individual tasks in their domains. The users need to cope with a dozen similar systems for different functions, and data is often scattered across different systems. As for the networks, many site managers are still left with the only option of using public network services for their site’s communication needs, which is insufficient.
Anssi Haavisto, Team Leader at YIT, the largest construction company in Finland and a significant North European urban developer echoes this concern: “With the help of new technology, we need to ensure that the basic construction work occurs as efficiently as possible.”
Watch the video: Nokia Digital Automation Cloud at YIT construction site in Tampere
Together with its partners like YIT, Nokia has been developing solutions to tackle the challenges. For instance, a common problem is that mobile network coverage and connectivity are only available at the construction site, when the work has been finished. Or only part of the site has connectivity. With Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) integrated to the site’s construction process, the connectivity can be planned according to building’s site plan, actual phases and BIM models, including special requirements like high-rise buildings or tunnels. And as the site progresses, additional connectivity coverage can be added to reflect the changing needs.
Guaranteed and secure connectivity unlocks other benefits for daily construction activities. Many tasks are done by teams, where personnel, machinery like cranes, and materials such as pre-fabricated elements are required. Utilizing professional communication applications like NDAC Team Comms with instant team voice and video can greatly speed up the basic productivity of such activities, was the conclusion at YIT site in Tampere. At the same time, single domain communication tools such as walkie-talkies can be integrated to one handheld device reducing the complexity of daily activities.
Further, automating site data collection and enabling open data sharing to all parties, will further accelerate site operations. Site situation awareness can be improved with mobile and fixed cameras for faster decision-making and follow-up. Mobile robots are also introduced at the most advanced construction sites for reality capture of the site and AI powered situational awareness. Critical operation data, plans and models supporting the construction process can be maintained at the site securely by a network edge data platform, such as Nokia Digital Automation edge, backed by cloud instances – and shared by all site actors and workplaces without delay on the latest digitally connected equipment.
In short, the potential to improve construction site productivity is huge. By employing a holistic site-wide connectivity solution like Nokia DAC, with its built-in industrial grade edge platform for local applications will allow all parties to focus on construction worker needs, the process and open data sharing to boost productivity.