The World Economic Forum has identified 5G’s transformative potential as the key to unlocking a fourth industrial revolution.
While 4G LTE had a significant impact on the modernization of the construction industry—5G promises to be at least 10 times faster than its predecessor. Its capability to enable a high-data rate at low latency will enable new use cases for the industry including greater efficiency and jobsite collaboration, improved safety and education, and utilization of immersive technologies to support day-to-day work.
Today’s construction sites are based on models that are constantly updated and modified by the many stakeholders involved in the building of a structure, be it a building, bridge, or road. Coordinating models is a time consuming, manual process that requires each discipline to download separate models and to federate the models in an external 3D model review application for the purpose of coordination. Today Oracle’s Aconex model coordination can take this process from two to five hours down to just a few minutes.
The improved visibility and quality provided by Oracle solutions today could be further amplified as 5G brings the data generated from all devices to the edge, making updated models easily accessible via the cloud from any location. For example, if an electrician makes an update on his iPad in the field to the model based on a clash he is seeing with the plumbing, the plumber will be able to access the current federated model instantaneously providing a new level of collaboration and cohesion between independent stakeholders.
This will be especially impactful on large projects or when working in an area with low connectivity. Now, someone installing something below ground will be able to see the same updated model as a site supervisor who is sitting in his office.
While the construction and engineering industry has been utilizing IoT for years, 5G will evolve the usage of IoT devices beyond sensors and into advanced computers. Connected construction equipment will be able to be operated remotely, while performing functions such as replenishing supplies, identifying maintenance needs, monitoring progress, and contributing to workplace safety and education.
The worksite of tomorrow isn’t confined to a place—it’s everywhere. 5G connected devices instantaneously access site data, physical data, and depth sensing cameras.
Worksites can be safer through the addition of 5G-enabled IoT. Autonomous equipment can operate alongside crews, performing high-risk and repetitive tasks. Sensors can continuously collect and benchmark data, improving productivity.
With low latency available through the 5G network, these connected devices can stream high-definition video to the cloud enabling analytics, education, and recognition of dangers on a worksite. Through camera recognition, a piece of autonomous equipment in motion can be stopped if it’s too close to an employee or structure, or alert someone operating a crane of an unforeseen issue.
And with massive amounts of data constantly analyzed, workplace safety can be improved. At the grand opening event of the Oracle Industry Lab there is a tested, live prototype on site depicting the value of 5G-enabled IoT to continued safety education.
Sensors and cameras throughout the construction site capture the motion of the individuals at work, sending video to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, where events are logged and data tagged if a safety protocol violation occurs, such as social distancing. If the same location on the worksite is recognized as an area where it is frequently difficult to properly distance, the flow of the site can be changed to permit more space between employees, and in turn improve performance of operations.
Live output from 5G-enabled IoT sensors on a construction site can also be utilized to compare to a digital twin of a physical object on a worksite in the cloud. With a digital twin, a construction company can react, predict, and control these physical objects in a more strategic and timely manner.
5G capabilities allow massive amounts of data to be quickly and easily processed enabling digital twins to provide a near exact representation of the live sensor data. This is valuable throughout the many stages of a project—design, collaboration, construction, and finally maintenance and management.
While augmented and virtual reality are available today, AR and VR wearable devices will become even more impactful to construction and engineering in the coming years. Today’s hardware is expensive, and not particularly comfortable for all-day usage, but it will evolve to lighter weight, more cost friendly versions.
This will make AR and VR more adaptable and affordable for the construction industry. With 5G capable of moving and analyzing massive amounts of data to the cloud or edge, AR and VR technology will soon play a supporting role in the construction industry of the future—both during a build and in operations. In the day-to-day, the wearable technology can alert to issues such as a misaligned pipe within the model, maintain quality control, or alert you to a moving piece of equipment. When it comes to operations, AR and VR could even reveal the pressure of a valve, or the location of a buried pipe. The uses cases are only becoming more pervasive.
Cloud, mobile, and 5G technologies will play a key role in the evolution of the construction and engineering industry. It is an exciting time to watch how Oracle technologies will support the fourth industrial revolution.
Oracle Construction and Engineering, the global leader in construction management software and project portfolio management solutions, helps you connect your teams, processes, and data across the project and asset lifecycle. Drive efficiency and control in project delivery with proven solutions for project controls, construction scheduling, portfolio management, BIM/CDE, construction payment management, and more.
Andrew Morawski is Executive Vice President and General Manager of Oracle Communications. As leader of Oracle’s telecommunications industry global business unit, Morawski is responsible for managing sales, strategic planning, product development, service, and support for Oracle’s Communications products.
Prior to joining Oracle, Morawski was President and Country Chairman for Vodafone in the Americas, responsible for the management, compliance, governance and integration of all Vodafone entities in the region. He joined Vodafone in 2012 through the acquisition of Cable & Wireless Worldwide as Head of Internet of Things (IoT), responsible for leading Vodafone’s IoT sales, strategy and operational initiatives in North and South America.
Earlier in his career, Morawski worked for Telstra in multiple roles including President and CEO of Telstra Inc, leading the Americas region for Telstra International. He has also held senior management roles with organizations such as Nortel where he managed the relationship between Nortel and SBC through the acquisition of Pacific Bell and SNET.