Powering the construction sites of tomorrow with 5G
From real-time three-dimensional modeling to global positioning system tracking equipment and tools, construction sites are often hotbeds of the latest in cutting-edge technology. Getting devices to talk to one another, on the other hand, can be a challenge, which presents a clear case for using wireless as the primary method of network connectivity in the industry. Allowing sites to achieve an ethernet-like quality of connection, fifth-generation (5G) technology is expected to provide 10 to 100 times faster speeds. It could also unlock 10 to 100 times more capacity than current long-term evolution networks, giving those working in construction almost instantaneous access to data-intensive edge and cloud applications, enabling multiple users to interact with each other in real-time, from anywhere in the world. Given that construction sites are complex and constantly evolving environments, this will be a huge step forward.
5G is also key to unlocking the power of massive machine-type communications in the construction industry. This technology will provide highly scalable and broad geographical coverage to help with complex construction and infrastructural projects such as smart cities. Looking further ahead, 5G will also prove key in accelerating the industry toward autonomous and remote operations — completing projects completely by machine alone, without the need of having people on-site. Even though remote-control technology exists at present, 5G’s ultra-low latency eliminates any delay in connectivity and ensures that work is completed with adequate speed and precision.
For applications that require real-time data, a number of new on-site innovations powered by 5G have been successfully deployed:
- Holographic building visualization — comprising mixed-reality smart glasses that employees and customers can wear on-site to render a virtual model of the building or elements of the construction process, such as holographic structural steel, framing or electrical schematics.
- 360-degree 8K streaming and QR code scanning from wireless video cameras — enabling site workers to deploy digital induction tracking, which is said to improve risk management by automating the process of ensuring every person on-site has completed safety training.
- Internet of Things structural sensing — using smart sensors fixed to rebar and embedded in the concrete aggregate to send data to the cloud where it can be subject to rapid and in-depth analysis.
- Real-time design displays — allowing staff on-site to make changes to digital blueprints in real-time on tablets and display on large monitors in trailers.
A platform for innovation, it’s clear that 5G will improve productivity, safety and compliance for construction and engineering and will be a catalyst of continuous improvement and innovation — helping to accelerate firms in the construction industry and beyond toward the use cases of tomorrow.
Read the full article in AEC Magazine.