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09 March 2021

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Making sites safer, smarter and more secure with wireless technology

PJ Farr, Managing Director of UK Connect, explains how 4G LTE/5G and Wi-Fi 6 can make sites safer, smarter and more secure.

For some, the idea of understanding the latest in wireless technology can be an overwhelming prospect. With complex-sounding names and unapproachable acronyms, it’s no surprise that even the most “tech savvy” amongst us stay well clear of the ins-and-outs of 4G LTE, 5G and Wi-Fi 6 upgrades. 

In this article, we explore how the creation of new technologies such as Wi-fi 6, 4G LTE and 5G can not only help to make sites safer but also smarter and more secure within the Construction environment. With increased pressure on the industry to adapt due to health and safety adaptions and continued Covid-19 impact. 

The Covid19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed and affected a variety of industries and the Construction Industry has certainly not been blind to the force of the pandemic. In fact, the pressuring and impactful strain caused by the virus has encouraged the sector to adapt by adopting more digital ways of working in order to survive in an ever-changing world. For those working in construction, even a small amount of knowledge can go a long way, particularly in terms of enhancing sites to make them safer, smarter, and more secure.

The main benefit of combining 4G LTE or 5G with Wi-Fi 6 is faster streaming and upload speeds. For context, the latter offering goes above and beyond its predecessor, delivering speeds 250% faster than that of Wi-Fi 5. Wi-Fi 6 technology is proving to be 40% faster than earlier Wi-Fi 5 technology without the addition of 4G LTE and 5G. Both cellular and Wi-Fi networking are continuously improving, adapting and upgrading to make way for digital transformation across industries like construction and housebuilding.  

Game changing tech to improve efficiency and safety whilst reducing risk

It’s a real game changer, effortlessly combining the outdoor connection capabilities of a 4G/5G network with the indoor capabilities of a Wi-Fi connection. In fact, the addition of these technologies especially Wi-Fi 6 will help to accommodate the further influx of devices at scale. Meaning users will receive a super-fast, uninterrupted connection wherever they are on site, allowing them to send, receive and stream without lag. 

Not only can this positively impact users who are constantly on the move, but it can also bring a whole host of benefits in terms of improving safety and risk. 

Drone on

It’s no secret that construction sites are hazardous workplaces, for example, operating heavy machinery and working at an elevation. In fact, the Construction Industry itself remains to be one of the most accident-prone working environments, with health and safety remaining as the industry’s biggest issue. With working from a height being the 3rd biggest health and safety risk for the industry, accounting for 47% of all work related fatalities and 19% of all non fatal injuries within this sector between 2019-2020. 

However, having access to new tech can give greater, lower-risk insight during the surveying stages of the project journey is a huge advantage.  

One method construction sites are adopting is the increasing use of drones to plan substantial procedures in risky areas, with drone usage up by 239% Year on Year in 2018.

Through 4G LTE, 5G and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, users can improve their streaming capabilities to receive high quality video when using drones, giving them a detailed lay of the land and allowing them to identify any potential issues without endangering staff. 

AI vehicles

Whilst AI (artificial intelligence) may sound futuristic, it’s already being used across a variety of entities including in day-to-day transport. With this type of technology ever advancing, it is obvious to say that construction vehicles and machinery can benefit from the enhancements it offers. Therefore, helping the industry to adapt more quickly and efficiently as a result. 

As staff safety, and security, remains of primary importance, it’s useful to be able to track onsite vehicle traffic and machinery use. The connectivity offered by the combination of 4G LTE or 5G with Wi-Fi 6 will make it possible to achieve a greater degree of control, across site, over potential vehicular and machinery related risks. For example, it means AI-equipped transport can be reliably connected through the IoT (Internet of Things) automating processes reliably, only permitting motion once it’s safe to do so or shutting devices off when left unattended for a specified period. 

In such hazardous situations, it pays to invest in continuous connectivity, offering site managers greater control and oversight to protect workers. 

Monitoring health

Although Health and Safety risks are still a prominent factor within the sector, this is something the industry is working hard to reduce and has since seen a downward spiral compared to previous years. 

Against the backdrop of Covid-19 and consistently high RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) incidents, there’s an acute focus on staff welfare throughout UK businesses and the industry.

In construction, where jobs are physically demanding, and work is traditionally conducted in a high-risk environment, it’s especially important to monitor employee’s health.  As well as supplying a duty of care to its employees, all contractors and developers know that a healthy, motivated workforce is essential to prompt completion and ensuring that essential profit margin. 

4G LTE, 5G and Wi-Fi 6 supplies the necessary bandwidth to monitor the welfare of workers using IoT-connected PPE to ensure those operating at significant heights or in danger zones are doing so within safe physiological parameters. The enhanced connectivity delivered will allow for multiple devices being used or worn at once with no interference, thanks to its ability to split signals. Resulting in more accurate monitoring, consistent speeds and less power needed by individual devices to achieve and maintain a connection with the network. 

A connected future

As uninterrupted connectivity becomes more important to the effective operation of a modern-day construction site, choosing the right hardware to deliver this scenario is essential. 

4G LTE, 5G and Wi-Fi 6 supplies the necessary bandwidth to monitor the welfare of workers using IoT-connected PPE to ensure those operating at significant heights or in danger zones are doing so within safe physiological parameters. The enhanced connectivity delivered will allow for multiple devices being used or worn at once with no interference, thanks to its ability to split signals. Resulting in more accurate monitoring, consistent speeds and less power needed by individual devices to achieve and maintain a connection with the network. 

Ultimately, every housebuilder and developer wants to achieve a safer, smarter, and more efficient workplace. Making the investment now into robust 4G LTE, 5G and emerging Wi-Fi 6 capabilities will place your organisation ahead of the curve. Resulting in a more confident, secure, and happier workforce all round. Importantly, not only will it improve productivity but make a positive, long term difference to the bottom line. Whilst increasing efficiency of the workforce and helping to decrease latency and lag time due to adopting a more digital approach. 
PJ Farr

PJ Farr

Managing Director

UK Connect

You don’t need to look far for solutions. Forward-thinking companies like Cradlepoint offer the very latest innovations, with numerous devices to accommodate all wireless needs whilst ensuring super-fast speed, minimal lag time and zero outage for optimum performance.  

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