Tech Excellence – Using Connectivity to Connect Site and Plant

Construction firms are increasingly turning to technology to improve efficiency and safety, and connectivity is playing a key role. The following article is by Mark Hansford and is featured in the New Civil Engineer.

“We are a technology company using connectivity to achieve better business performance for our customers,” explains Onwave Managing Director Stuart Ladbrook.

He is summing up why civils firms should be interested in his little black boxes. In essence that is what Onwave supplies: boxes of tricks that connect assets, construction equipment, fleets or whole sites to the Internet of Things and enable the modern day aspiration to achieve smart infrastructure.

Their box is clever: it is a router that federates different connections – Ethernet, Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, ADSL and satellite – automatically selecting the best available to route digital traffic through the fastest service. It is a service that is finding uses in a variety of different ways from providing comms on remote construction sites to connecting fixed assets such as boreholes and bridges; to tracking vehicle fleets and even communicating with grass cutters to alert them where they should and should not be cutting.

“We want to be that route to market for tech start-ups,” explains Ladbrook. “They all rely on connectivity and this is at the heart of what we do. Connectivity is critical across all project phases.”

We’re trying to drive an increase in customer awareness of smart technology. It’s about becoming a trusted advisor

Ladbrook reels off a list of tech start ups that Onwave is tracking and talking with, from remote drone providers such as DroneDeploy and Kespry, job allocation and automation app GeoPal, site visualisation tech such as Ricoh Theta, and Holobuilder, worker safety apps such as Redpoint Positioning, SensorZone and OnGrade and real-time information kits such as XoEye and Daqri.

He is also keeping tabs on worker health sensors from Pulsar, Triax and Spot-r and exoskeleton developer Ekso Bionics.

Ultimately, it offers the chance for differentiation – and the chance to win more work, he says.

“What we know is that we can give better connectivity, which must in turn increase productivity,” adds Onwave Founder and Chief Executive Sean McKeague.

It ensures our employees can be properly supported as well as allowing access to Costain’s internal network resources

Onwave is currently working with tier one contractors such as Costain, ISG and Osborne. Costain has connected around 40 sites using the service, consuming on average two terabytes of data per month.

Costain group IT Mobilisation Manager Nick Capsticks says the service has helped his firm meet the requirements of rapidly deploying IT connectivity to its projects.

“It ensures our employees can be properly supported as well as allowing access to Costain’s internal network resources. Our joint venture partners and subcontractors also benefit by having access to high speed internet access on day-one of landing on site,” he says.

Similarly Osborne, with a wide variety of locations and different needs at each site, was also struggling to get reliable internet access for all of its construction projects.

“Previously we would install ADSL, but the lead times are unpredictable and could be anything from weeks to several months. These delays and uncertainties add significant frustration and cost to our projects,” explains Osborne Head of IT Phil Gilbey.

“Part of ensuring that projects are completed on time and on budget is delivering complete and accurate construction information to our teams on site, as plans are regularly updated and things are always being refined and finalised. So it’s absolutely essential that those plans are delivered to the site as soon as they become available” 

For the full article via New Civil Engineer please click here.

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