BAM consortium develops ‘plug and go’ 5G network for sites

BAM Nuttall's site in Shetland where the private 5G network was tested
BAM Nuttall’s site in Shetland where the private 5G network was tested
The team involving BAM that was the first to deliver a private 5G network on a construction site in the UK is developing a “plug-and-go” solution for any construction site.

The team of BAM, BRE and network software developer AttoCore is joined by Leading Edge Power and system integrator Glideology. The latter is leading the new venture, which is backed by Innovate UK.

The technology will be available to the industry, not just BAM. It ”can be tailored to the needs of a site and deliver full 5G coverage from the outset”.

Once site activity is complete, the technology can be removed and installed at another location. The technology is also “completely off-grid with green power generated in situ”, according to the consortium.

Last year, BAM, AttoCore, and BRE switched on a private, 5G network for the first time on a UK site. Using the network, the team trialled several transformative technologies, including construction robotics and remote working facilitators.

High-speed, low-latency digital connectivity is key to ensuring that such digital solutions can be effectively deployed, according to the consortium. It is hoped the new project will accelerate the development and uptake of digital solutions – including autonomous surveying, remote visualisation and teleoperations solutions – improving both productivity and onsite safety.

Continuous connectivity is key

The consortium noted that construction projects are often delivered in geographically remote locations or in urban contexts where connectivity (digital, power and other utilities) is not in place at the start of work. The location of activity also shifts often as projects progress. The need for continuous, high-quality data connectivity in these situations presents a signficant challenge.

Colin Evison, head of innovation at BAM Nuttall said: “It’s great that we’re taking this technology to the next level. During the previous 5G research and development project, we always had in mind that the next evolution was a simpler plug-and-go solution. We’re sure that with the Innovate UK funding and our new partners Glideology and Leading Edge Power, we can create an industry-transforming solution that will help ensure we have the right digital connectivity to serve the construction industry.”

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