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20 May 2021

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How 5G will revolutionise the construction sector

In this article, we discuss the potential emerging 5G technology has for the UK housebuilding industry, and how UK Connect is perfectly positioned to deliver it.

The digital revolution is reimaging building sitesConstruction’s near future promises self-driving vehicles and autonomous machinerydrones, 3D printing and AR gadgetry. All are designed to help build faster, with less manpower and fewer costly errors 

Engineers will be guided by immersive video and graphical applicationsstreamed to their mobile devices, and robots will power through bricklaying and paintwork. The golden thread of asset and inspection information will be accurately recorded, improving safety and helping compile essential handover documentation. AI and big data will rule.  

However, for all this to work, housebuilding sites need reliable internet connectivity. Although a number of systems and standards exist, the consensus is emerging 5G is the best option to secure a prominent place in this new digital landscape and take advantage of what it offers 

What is 5G?

5G is a collection of new spectrum, new technologies, and new infrastructure that transforms cellular from voice and data communications to a high-performance unified networking platform.  From a business perspective, 5G incorporates all the touchpoints from the network edge into one platform, from fixed wireless access, to vehicle tracking, to full Internet of Things capability (IoT) In a nutshell, 5G is smarter, faster and more efficient than the current 4G. 

This latest standard delivers three major elements: Enhanced mobile broadband, ultra-low latency for time-sensitive applications, and the ability to connect massive amounts of IoT and rapid-capture solutions. Thanks to high bandwidth, combined with 5G’s very low latency, the technology is set to improve data capture significantly across a host of project delivery processes. 

This matters to construction firms and developers who want to keep pace with change, particularly large housebuilders, who are already making great use of 3D BIM in the field, where network access needs to be consistent and reliable. Further, 5G will also improve the way site teams can view and update robust project data sets on their smartphonesbenefiting from connected platforms, and real-time insights.  It will also encourage further IoT integration, with internet-connected sensors used on building sites in a wide variety of scenarios, from monitoring plant machines to spotting health and safety issues. 

5G connectivity will power progress  

Adoption of these on-site solutions has started to take root, but just like the broadband it relies on, it’s patchy. For housebuildersunreliable site connectivity is holding back the potential of many new technologies. McKinsey notes in its Rise of the Platform Era report (October 2020) that, as hardware and software volume and diversity continue to increase on job sites, there will be a corresponding need for supporting solutions: 

“Construction-drone and electric-vehicle docking, wireless-internet backbone connectivity to support Internet of Things–enabled devices, information security, data-quality management, and data architecture are all examples of where investments in IT infrastructure can help capture opportunities from these technologies.”

At UK Connect, we’re convinced 5G will prove to be the missing piece of the puzzle, and our passionate belief is that the housebuilding industry can become a trailblazing sector with 5G’s infrastructure supportUltimately, it will deliver greater ROI, better quality builds and a strengthened bottom line.  

Here are the top-line benefits of 5G on construction sites:  

  • Increased efficiency and shorter construction journey 
  • Improved safety and compliance  
  • Greater accuracy during build and consistency in finished product 
  • More capacity for big data, further labour-saving devices, AI-controlled equipment 
  • Improved sustainability through IoT devices which can operate in real-time to monitor rubbish levels
  • Enhanced collaboration between site and remote workers through reduced lag-time, fostering real-time, quick decision making 

5G can go even further, especially when combined with emerging Wi-Fi 6, a new standard for broadband, and 4G LTE (the predecessor). All can work in tandem to deliver a ‘superhero’ service. 

Know what you’re investing in 

If all this sounds too good to be true, it’s actually easier than you think to achieve all the benefits of 5G connectivity.  The key is to work with an accredited provider who understands the potential of 5G, the security and installation issues, and how its complex infrastructure works. Beware of services which claim to be 5G but are in fact little more than a reworked version of 4G. Here at UK Connect, we’ve been providing internet services to the building industry for many years, enabling architects, engineers and builders to communicate rapidly using broadband services on construction sites.  Working with Cradlepointthe world’s leading developer and manufacturer of 5G routers and hardwarewe are the company’s only certified installer and enabler of its 5G products for the UK housebuilding industry. Cradlepoint is unique because it’s currently the only supplier with the knowledge, expertise and affirmation to establish this new wireless technology, and we believe through working alongside these experts, UK Connect can offer a superlative service to a sector we already admire and know so well. 

5G is paving the way to construction efficiency 

The door is open for the construction industry to walk through. As technology advances, we are already seeing a shift in the way construction companies are now embracing a more efficient, sustainable and productive new way of working. Pressure is on to develop greater IoT expertise. The market size of Internet of Things (IoT) in construction is estimated to reach US$16.8 billion by 2024, at a CAGR of 16.5% between 2019 and 2024, according to ReportLinker, driven by pressure to ramp up productivity.

Housebuilders able to effectively capture, extract, and analyse project and asset data across a development’s life cycle will make better real-time decisions, differentiate themselves from the competition, and attain a higher profit potential. There’s no doubt these tech advancements are powering the next wave of digital transformation in our industry.  But for the future of UK housebuilding be truly bright, it must be fully, and reliably, connected.  

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Redrow Homes

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