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Gammon Construction hopes for improved productivity via 5G

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Gammon Construction’s Singapore subsidiary is testing 5G and hopes to improve productivity by 40%.

Gammon Pte (the Singaporean subsidiary of Balfour Beatty’s Hong Kong joint venture Gammon Construction), mobile operator Singtel, and Singaporean government agency the Building Construction Authority are testing 5G on a construction site on Sentosa Island, off Singapore’s southern coast.

Gammon hopes to boost productivity by as much as 40% by using robots, drones and other technology in four ways, Global Construction Review reports.

First, 5G-connected robots from Boston Dynamics track the progress of the structure being built. The robots use 3D laser scanners to update a cloud-based BIM model. The high capacity of the 5G network allows for the 3D scanning data collected by the robots to be processed live while they are still on site.

“This is something that we’ve never managed before,” Michael O’Connell, general manager at Gammon, said. “I wouldn’t say it’s the Holy Grail, but it is quite close.”

He added: “If I have got 50 to 60 scan points that I want to do in a day, I’d send two skilled employees down to the site to do that scanning and it would probably take them the entire day and even then I can’t process anything until they come back [with memory cards].”

Detecting hazards and safety breaches

Second, the 5G network is used to connect to a wireless mobile CCTV station that moves around the site to transmit live video back to Gammon’s command centre, where video analytics developed by Gammon can detect hazards or breaches of safety protocol.

This system spots whether a worker is wearing a hard hat or entering a restricted area, for example. Gammon believes this could reduce the number of supervisors it needs on each project.

The third use is drones that can inspect parts of the structure that are inaccessible without scaffolding or cherry pickers, which would speed up the inspection process and cut costs. It also opens up the possibility for future authority inspections to be conducted remotely.

Finally, Gammon is using 5G and augmented reality headsets to let workers and supervisors on site see how the planned construction methodology will unfold around them, so they can detect issues before work starts. “You start seeing potential risks that you wouldn’t see if you look just at a 3D model or step-by-step pictorials,” O’Connell said.

The trial will run until the end of this year.

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