Two Ways to Quickly Connect a Remote Job Site
Construction companies and service providers are getting together to offer multiple solutions for instantly connecting remote job sites with all the technological trimmings needed to operate at the speed of 2013.
One general contractor found a quick, ruggedized solution to wiring job sites to the internet anywhere in range of 3G or 4G cellular connection, which would free staff from having to wait for utility companies to mobilize to the jobsite.
“It’s been that elusive thing to try and fix,” says Jim Purcell, CTO of Brasfield & Gorrie, Birmingham, Ala. He says he struggled for a long time with keeping up with late-notice or quick-turnaround jobsites. “We
experimented with satellite technology. But it wasn’t reliable enough to be useful,” says Purcell.
Then Sprint, which was the company’s service provider, suggested a sitdown with Feeney Wireless to find a solution his company calls Jobsite in a Box. It is a waterproof, rugged and transportable 3G/4G/Wi-Fi
hotspot, that can hop multiple cellular networks to access corporate servers and get a jobsite’s computers running.
Jobsite in a Box looks like it's just a Pelican case with a padlock on it. Outside there are three waterproof external connections for antennas, five connection ports for LAN or WAN lines and an on switch. Inside, there’s a wireless router that can be configured so when it arrives the wireless network is exactly as it would be in a company’s corporate offices, behind its firewalls.
“The goal is as soon as it arrives, you plug it in and it’s live,” says Purcell. “We are extending our network
wherever that box lands.”
Purcell has 10 of the boxes deployed thus far and demand for more. Two of the boxes are being used by
Derek Willis, a project manager for Brasfield & Gorrie. “We’re utilizing it as a bridge until we’re wired up by the utility companies,” he says. “It’s difficult to get anything at all out to the jobsite.”
Willis says that as soon as the box arrives, he plugs it in and is on the network. On one project he has four or five computers being simultaneously used.
“On some of the sites the box isn’t a bridge at all,” says Willis. “It fully satisfies our needs. For others, it’s a bridge so we can get running from day one.”
Brasfield & Gorrie doesn’t intend to sell its solution, but Feeney Wireless has put together a nearly identical unit called the Mobile Ready Office that can be found at feeneywireless.com and starts at around $2,000 a pop.
If a job site requires more technology and electronics out of the gate than mere connectivity, there’s another option: Techsuite. It’s a work trailer that comes delivered on-site with up-to-date, fully operational, technological guts.
National Reprographics inc., New York, outfits work trailers from partner Williams Scotsman with equipment from iPads to wide-format scanners/printers, smart boards and software. NRI also outfits existing trailers of any sort, or office space.
NRI and Williams Scotsman partner with Autodesk, EarthCam, Oracle, Hewlett Packard and many other companies, to “minimize the technology vendors involved by coordinating all on-site technology needs,” says Perkins “We’re saving clients thousands of dollars a month, literally.” The company began shifting focus to become a technology aggregator over the past few years.
“We’re one of the oldest, biggest blueprint printing shops, and as business slowed, we asked, what if we found out more about what’s happening inside the job trailer?” says Ron Perkins, director of business development at NRI.
Companies have to rent or buy a plotter, copier, smart board and server and they need a contractor to produce their network and wire up their Category 6 cable, says Perkins. “If they lose six weeks getting it wired up and ready, they’re losing valuable time.”
Shawn Pressley, CIO of Hill International, New York, says he’s working with NRI to help them spec out what is most needed. “The service is just like Home Depot. You can get wire, nuts, bolts, it’s a one stop shop,” says Pressley. “They drop it off and you're all done.”