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4 things to consider about the role of wi-fi in construction

With the rising demand for high performance wi-fi in schools, hospitals, shops and offices, the industry increasingly has to consider both the implications and opportunities that a wireless network can have.

Here are four things to consider about the role wi-fi can play in construction:

1) Futureproof properties with wi-fi from the outset

Technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, as do attitudes towards it. Considering wi-fi as ‘the fourth utility’ promotes long-term thinking on the evolution of a building and its usage.

Factoring in a wireless network during the design stage will help minimise disruption and the need for retrofitting, helping futureproof buildings.

“Construction companies should work closely with IT suppliers to avoid additional maintenance and costs down the line”

New builds such as multi-tenancy office blocks, hospitals and schools are seeking out wireless solutions that require infrequent upgrades, allowing them to protect their investments.

Construction companies should work closely with IT suppliers on this to avoid additional maintenance and costs further down the line. It also enables eco-measures such as smart metering from the onset.

Organisations often require a wide supporting local and external communications infrastructure as well as wi-fi access. Factoring scalable and durable solutions into the design process will ensure staff don’t experience capacity issues, which is strategically important for organisations.

2) Enabling mobile working

The explosion of mobile devices has driven demand for robust IT infrastructure in public buildings. Yet before these buildings are even in use, wi-fi is playing an important role in the design and construction phases.

Previously, construction workers wasted time due to not having necessary information to hand or because they had to carry paper-based documents which constantly needed updating.

“Carbon savings on projects are improving as a result of staff being able to cut down on trips to and from HQ”

Today’s construction industry heavily relies on IT to create, store and transfer documents and information.

The use of internet connectivity and backhaul with wi-fi ensures staff can use smartphones, tablets and laptops site-wide to enter information digitally, transfer high volumes of data back to HQ and maintain communications with staff, partners, customers and suppliers while onsite. 

This ensures construction firms are able to achieve impressive cost savings and operational efficiencies.

Carbon savings on projects are also improving as a result of staff now being able to cut down on trips to and from HQ, working actively on site from tablet and smartphone devices.

3) Building information modelling

BIM is set to become more of an integral part of construction projects over the next five years.

The premise of BIM on a construction project is to enable the seamless transfer of model information between site management operations and operatives on site.

“Wi-fi connectivity is important to projects where real-time site inventory information can be collected and stored”

Having a robust wireless connection in place will allow staff to efficiently transfer design or construction data within the construction site.

This will help improve project delivery, which ultimately leads to construction contracts being more efficiently managed and increasingly profitable to all the stakeholders involved.

4) Radio-frequency identification technology

Wi-fi connectivity is also important to projects where real-time site inventory information can be collected and stored within a central database for procurement, logistics and workface planning.

This is achieved through the use of tags that can be linked to the project model via a wi-fi system.

Establishing such links enables contractors to effectively optimise project and logistical planning but more importantly reduces both material loss and waste, subsequently leading to safer construction sites, better project planning and potentially significant cost savings.

Mick Lohan is director at Galliford Try and Geoff Smith is managing director at Horsebridge

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