In an always-connected world, everybody needs WiFi and an internet connection, and the construction industry is no different.
As a leading supplier of WiFi to construction sites across the UK (including to Europes largest construction project), we’re no stranger to getting connectivity to those tricky-to-reach sites, portable cabins and site offices.
This article gives a brief overview about the different ways to get WiFi on a construction site, and aims to help you understand which type of solution is best for your site specifically.
Why would you want WiFi On Your Construction Site?
We live in an age of cloud computing, powerful software tools and the need to be ever-connected. This includes while working.
Here’s just a few use cases that our customers encounter on their construction sites:
- Sending and receiving emails while on site
- Downloading technical information and drawings
- Having online meetings with clients
- Using cloud applications and software such as BIM360 and Fieldwire
- Utilising live data for on site modelling and operations
If you’re in an office, WiFi is almost a given, but if you’re on a construction site, then it can be a challenge to get decent connectivity. That’s why we offer a multitude of construction site WiFi solutions, to meet different size and scope of project.,
How to get WiFi in your Construction Site’s Portable Cabins
There are a couple of options for connectivity and WiFi inside portable cabins and construction sites—4G/5G cellular and satellite.
4G/5G Cellular WiFi for Construction Cabins
One option, and the most popular option, for WiFi in construction cabins is 4G/5G cellular connectivity.
Portable cabins and site offices often act as faraday cages—blocking signal from the outside and preventing your team from access the speeds 4G/5G has to offer.
To get WiFi inside your construction site’s portable cabins, you will need a high gain, external antenna. The antenna can sit outside the cabin or on a window, and helps improve signal, speed and latency.
Satellite WiFi for Construction Cabins
If your site is in a rural location, or an area with poor cellular availability, the 4G might be too slow to run your construction site office effectively. This is where satellite comes in.
With a satellite, you can bypass the 4G and cellular connectivity completely, and do away with the reliance on the mobile networks. We would usually recommend a Low Earth Orbit satellite solution, which offers dramatically lower latency than a traditional satellite connection. Typically, one of our satellites offers up to 200mbps download speed, significantly faster than most 4G (and even some 5G connections).
How to get WiFi Across your Entire Construction Site
Some larger projects may need WiFi or connectivity across the whole construction site. This comes with it’s own challenges, but there are a few options…
A Site-Wide WiFi network
If you need WiFi across your entire construction site, one way to accomplish this is to have a complete mesh network installed across your site. Typically, a network like this is made up of WiFi points strategically positioned across the site on masts. These points distribute the connectivity to the areas that need it.
A site-wide network ensures all of your team are connected, no matter where they are on site.
Imagine it in the same vein as a hotel—where you can connect your device in the hotel room, and walk to the restaurant for breakfast without losing connection.
Site-wide networks are complex and require careful planning and consideration. They also need to be kept up-to-date, as the building site develops, you may need additional access points and masts put up to ensure areas have additional WiFi.
Mobiles and Tablets For Construction Teams
Often a cheaper way to provide your construction workers with their own WiFi across the site is to give them their own tablet or mobile with a data SIM inside.
This is a common option for most larger projects, as it reduces the initial outlay and ongoing costs of re-jigging a WiFi network as the build progresses. This is the same solution we provide to BYLOR JV - who run Europe’s largest construction site. All of their on-site workers have a tablet with a data SIM inside a ruggedised case. This keeps them connected while they wander around site and gives them access to all the cloud software, BIM and CAD they need.
Over longer term projects and larger sites, this option usually works out more cost-effective than a fully-installed site-wide solution.
A good ‘in-between’ option is to have WiFi hotspots at different locations on site—such as site cabins, welfare units and certain high foot-traffic areas. Hotspots are a lower-cost option for those that can’t invest in large site-wide infrastructure, but still need bullet-proof connectivity across the site.
Typically we install WiFi at a selection of cabins around the site. These are frequently used as hubs for catering, offices, common areas and can quickly and easily be turned into a fully fledged office environment for teams working on site.
If you’re running a construction site and struggling with connectivity, or would like more information about the options available to you, get in touch with our team for a no-obligations quotation today.