Begin with setting up the Trailer
For most contractors, construction site Wi-Fi solutions begin with getting an internet connection to the trailer. This is by no means the only facet of the jobsite network, but for purposes of this article we’ll limit our discussion to the initial trailer drop. For more information on blanketing the field of work with connectivity, see our resource article on 3 Ways to get Internet to Remote Jobsites.
Setting up the trailer is an important first step because it provides the hub from which you can manage and deploy additional spokes as the project increases in size and complexity. Modern construction jobsites require reliable access to internet data to run the cloud-based apps that manage projects and facilitate communication between owner’s reps, project managers, and field teams.
Considerations include installation of access points, network management, and configuring technology for field teams like printers, scanners, and security cameras. In addition, it is important to develop a plan for the network design when the trailer city begins to grow.
Provide on-site installation of Construction Site Wi-Fi Solutions
Your first order of business is ISP Qualification. This will tell you which providers can get a data signal to power your construction site Wi-Fi solution. Look for providers who can get a fiber connection to the jobsite address and get quotes with pricing and terms. Bear in mind that burying cable on an evolving jobsite is problematic if future excavations are planned.
Further planning should include developing a bill of material for the necessary networking hardware. This will help coordination with the ISP and ensure that you know what equipment they will provide, and what components will be your responsibility.
Once you have things settled with the ISP, most contractors will want to have an on-site resource available to coordinate between the ISP and the field. This may be the Project Manager or an IT representative. Tasks include installing the initial access point, setting up wired or wireless connectivity extensions, and providing support for field teams to configure technology like printers, scanners, and security cameras.
Put together a “Plan B”
In certain instances where jobsites are difficult to reach, you’ll need to have a “plan B” for bandwidth delivery when existing infrastructure does not meet project needs. This can come in the form of WISPs, temporary cellular networks, and outdoor antennas that offer line-of-sight Wi-Fi access.
Allocate resources to manage the local network.
Network management can be a headache. For construction site Wi-Fi solutions, it can easily turn into a migraine when equipment gets moved and never-ending change requests follow subsequent phases of the project. Developing a system to manage multiple jobsites will be important for general contractors and their IT teams.
Change requests most often stem from the need to extend network coverage as jobsites grow. Keeping the field of work blanketed with good connectivity is essential so that workers can view and upload important data anywhere on the jobsite. This can require installing additional routers or mesh network extensions.
Monitoring network status and uptime is important to keep teams on the jobsite productive and to ensure that the ISP is delivering on promised bandwidth. This dovetails with proactively managing data security. Many general contractors are beginning to collect data from the connected apps that interact on the jobsite network and are using this information to provide project owners with insights on construction progress.
Warehouse networking equipment for fast deployment.
Most contractors have multiple construction sites active at any point in time. Depending on how many construction site Wi-Fi solutions you are managing, you may need to track the various networking equipment deployed. Projects last from a few months to several years and for assets with remaining useful life, you’ll want to develop a protocol for managing inventory.
Plan ahead to have resources available to decommission equipment from completed projects. When possible, refurbishing equipment and placing it back into inventory is a good practice that can help manage costs. Remember that construction sites are dirty, dusty places that aren’t easy on electronic equipment. Having an inventory of “spare parts” can help keep field teams up and running.
Getting Wi-Fi on a Construction Site doesn’t have to be difficult.
Keeping jobsites connected has become a requirement as the construction industry relies on internet data to run the cloud-based apps that manage projects. The productivity gains from better communication between owner’s reps, PMs, and field teams are forcing IT teams to architect construction site Wi-Fi solutions that meet a variety of project requirements.
From setting up the initial trailer to decommissioning equipment at the end of the project, following a repeatable formula will help you keep your projects up and running in a digital age.