Renewable Energy Contractor
The company, one of the largest renewable energy contractors in the United States, provides construction solutions for the power delivery industry and leading expertise in renewable energy construction.
With more than a century of experience building large-scale projects, the company provides engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) services for utility-scale wind, solar, transmission, and substation construction projects.
Scaling jobsite connectivity across 60+ projects.
Client: ENR Top 400 Renewable Energy Contractor | Jobsite: Renewable Energy Wind Farm
The company’s corporate IT group is tasked with managing the installation, support and decommissioning of jobsite networks across a portfolio of 60+ concurrent projects. The team prides itself on running a well-oiled machine with strict adherence to a set of industry-leading best practices. When the team recognized that it lacked the internal resources to tackle these challenges at scale, ConstructEdge was consulted to develop a connectivity program that could be implemented from site to site with a consistent standard of operation.
Solar power and wind farms are remote by design. Located in the outlying mountains and valleys of the metropolitan areas they serve; jobsites pose logistical challenges including bringing high-speed broadband connectivity to power IoT and cloud-based construction tech apps used to manage projects. In addition, these are large jobsites spanning many square miles where teams in the field are working at significant distances from trailers.
The company regularly found that there was no retail ISP who could deliver broadband internet to remote jobsites as they had no existing infrastructure close enough in proximity to get fiber to trailers. This meant that a combination of temporary internet solutions would be required while more permanent solutions could be constructed.
All of this needed to be done with consideration for scaling the number of projects, change management, and communication across massive sites. A program level solution.
What the company really wanted from ConstructEdge was to design a standardized, scalable solution to manage multiple jobsites with a consistent framework. This included flexible Last Mile and Field Connectivity solutions, standardized equipment in the field, asset management, and global visibility for easy management.
Last Mile / Temporary Internet
Where existing infrastructure is not available, or insufficient to meet the needs of remote wind and solar projects, ConstructEdge has designed custom solutions which can be readily deployed. For example, on a remote site in Tehachapi, California, the solution was a 4-hop Microwave link atop 3 mountain tops to provide 100M symmetrical broadband to the jobsite. This enables temporary or rapid deployment solutions for quick turn-around when a job site needs bandwidth before the main circuit can be installed or when the length of the job is short-term.
Many of the company’s jobsites are massive and spread out over hundreds of acres with field teams working many miles away from construction trailers. To extend connectivity across the field of work, Connex boxes are fitted with solar powered antennas to serve as access points. This helps teams in the laydown yard share data in real-time with trailer cities.
Standardizing Equipment for Each Trailer
To make scaling the installation of broadband networks across multiple jobsites easier, ConstructEdge has standardized the equipment used on each trailer and established protocols for onsite installation. This begins with coordinating with field teams to provision, install, and manage all technology needs in project trailers. Technicians connect multiple trailers via wire or wireless links, run and terminate networking cables, setup general office technology needs (printers, servers, routers, cameras etc.) and provide support for routers, switches, firewalls, WAN & LAN services.
Construction jobsites are dusty, chaotic places. Trailers move, networking equipment gets relocated, and tracking such IT assets is a real challenge for corporate IT groups. ConstructEdge manages the logistics and warehousing of technology equipment including Meraki Security Appliances, indoor, and outdoor Meraki APs. ConstructEdge is given access to the company’s Meraki dashboard to provision and ship equipment to jobsites. Once project is finished, a ConstructEdge technician comes back onsite to decommission and return equipment to the warehouse where it gets tested, checked in, and added to inventory. The client has visibility on all assets throughout the process via ConstructEdge’s online Manage360 platform.
Global Visibility for 80+ Projects
The company’s corporate IT group has responsibility for managing over 80 jobsites at any given time throughout the U.S. ConstructEdge worked with the team to roll out a pre-determined set of standards that can all be managed through their proprietary online platform, Manage360. This allows the IT Group to choose an ISP for each jobsite based on corporate standards. During this process, ConstructEdge works with the field team to answer any questions and ensures internet is ready to go when the trailer drops. If there is a delay in the ISP install, ConstructEdge deploys a pre-determined Temporary Internet Solution based on the project’s current needs.
What We Learned
A unique skillset is required for managing Last Mile, Trailer, and Field Connectivity for remote jobsites. Corporate IT Groups for large GC’s can benefit form working with a partner who has expertise in solutions for construction jobsites like Temporary Internet and Field Connectivity. Developing a standard operating procedure for lighting up trailers, scaling networks, troubleshooting, tracking assets, and decommissioning projects gives corporate IT groups control over network security, asset management, and global visibility on multiple projects. As the modern construction jobsite continues to involve a multitude of cloud-based applications and increasingly relies on the real-time sharing of data, the demand for wholistic solutions will continue to rise.