5G technology, when adopted on a universal level, will have a strong and shaping impact on the construction industry.
You’ve probably heard of 5G, the much hyped, oft vilified new technology. It’s essentially a new version of something we’ve already had for years. 1G To 4G-LTE technology is what we’ve been using since 1979. 5G promises to offer greater connectivity for more items, and for those connections to be faster. Basically, the promise of 5G is a far more seamless integration of things with the internet.
What is 5G?
If you are like most people, you know that 5G means a faster network, but you probably don’t know exactly what it is. Essentially, the “G” networks are networks broadcast over radio waves. It began in the second world war, with the use of Walkie-talkies, which are basically AM radio phones. It continued with car phones, and other mobile phones. This tech could be considered 0G. Next came the first mobile phone networks, or 1G networks. After that, as mobile devices took off, the radio wave networks became more efficient, wider range, more connective, and over-all, better.
So what’s special about 5G?
5G promises internet speeds of up to 1 gigabyte per second. As the technology is perfected, the speeds 5G is capable of will continue to rise. 1 GB Per second is faster than most people’s existing Wi-Fi. That may seem like no big deal, it’s just faster internet right? But for construction it can make a huge difference. For example, an empty plot of land where a building will be in 3 years will have extremely fast internet if there is 5G. Even a completed office building with an existing fiber optics line would be slower.
So how does 5G affect construction?
What exactly will a network that can transmit data 10-100 times faster than existing networks provide for us functionally? And specifically, what capabilities are there to change the construction industry?
Faster access to important data
Thanks to 5G tech, construction contractors can now get instantaneous access to high data information from anywhere. That means that a foreman could look at BIM data and ensure that he/she has all the right materials for the next course of building. Workers can track shipments of materials and tools, ensure the building is going to schedule, and track sudden plan changes in real time.
The internet of things (IoT) and machine communication
With the possibilities of massive amounts of machines electronics connected to the internet, data can do beautiful things. The internet of things is a phrase getting thrown around a lot these days. It basically means that anything with an on/off switch can be connected to the internet and other devices.
Presently, this type of technology can work wonders in the construction world. For example, on massive infrastructure projects, different construction machines, people, and equipment can all be communicating in tandem. This would allow far more efficient use of resources.
As an example, a warehouse connected to the IoT could report to a database that it had so much concrete taken for one part of a highway project. Checking in on where to get more concrete, a commercial contractor would know exactly how much concrete is in that warehouse for a different part of the same highway project. Then, the contractor could send out two delivery trucks, one to pick up the concrete from that warehouse, and another from a different warehouse. This way, she/he could ensure that his part of the highway project gets enough of the concrete needed. Finally, the delivery trucks themselves could also report back on their present status. Thus, the workers on-site could have other projects finished just as those delivery trucks arrive with the concrete.
Another promising IoT capability is structural sensing. Sensors placed at various parts of a building’s superstructure could detect stress and damage. The sensors could be placed in the foundation, rebar, embedded in walls/cement, or anywhere, really. They can provide real-time structural data throughout the life of the building. This would eliminate the need for constant checks and maintenance regarding the building’s structural health.
With super internet speed, far more data can be transmitted. This means that 3D rendering, once only capable on super-powerful computers, can be done on laptops, phones, and mobile devices on site. Contractors could pull up their phone or a laptop on a building site and see a 100% accurate virtual model of the project they are working on. This includes already completed parts, as well as info about the materials and parts used in constructing the project.
This tech of course can be reversed. Workers could make pictures/video of their current project. Next, a manager in an office somewhere could use that data to make a 3D render of the current state of the construction site. Drones flying over with 4K videos can also be used for even more accurate data projections. 3D rendering would be possible on-site as well. Faster data speed would mean that video info could be sent to a cloud computer which would perform the rendering. After all, there are usually not extremely powerful computers on construction sites.
The technology is still brand new
One of the most promising things about 5G technology is that it is so new. It will take years for society to catch up with it and fully use its capabilities. The present includes 3D modeling, virtual and augmented reality, the internet of things, and machine communication. But the future will have much more, machine learning, autonomous building drones, and even more that we can’t predict.
At Reliable Commercial Construction, we like to stay on top of the newest trends, but also keep it personal. Our team of over 200 has 35 years of experience, and knows how to get jobs done on-time, on-budget, and in a way that ensures our clients get what they want. Not just the completed project, but all the information a client needs to be happy during construction. We use technology and a personal touch to keep you up to date with deadlines, changes, problems that may occur, and everything else. Let us know how we can help with your construction needs today, and you can see our relentless service in action.