Construction projects have many elements. They are complex to manage and prone to delays through supply chain issues, scope changes and unforeseen risks, for example. This is further intensified by the industry’s reliance on collating paper reports, which are manually created and physically captured. It is time consuming and often inconsistent. As a result, decisions about areas that need to be changed or improved in the building process end up being difficult to make.
McConnell Dowell wanted to digitize the process to enable construction sites to better manage construction schedules and objectives. The company’s goal was to create a way of collecting and reporting real-time data to support informed, iterative, collaborative and transparent agile decision making. This would have the potential to accelerate construction schedules.
McConnell Dowell approached Orange Business, with whom it already has a contract for standardizing and transforming its network operations, to co-create an IoT platform use-case application from ideation through to platform deployment.
Infrastructure delivery costs are rising by 8% per annum. Efficient project management directly impacts our business performance. We are focused on embedding technology in our processes, and Orange Business proved to be an ideal innovation partner. We are now working jointly to develop solutions that can be used at various project locations for different use cases. Together, we are future-proofing our business through agile, scalable and smart solutions that streamline business insights.
Rhys Craigie, Alliance Systems Manager, McConnell Dowell
Bringing agile decision making to construction
Following extensive innovation briefings with McConnell Dowell, Orange created a flexible, scalable IoT platform designed to collect, report and virtualize data sent across a private network. This digital approach erases paper-centric processes from project management reporting.
With the Orange IoT platform, McConnell Dowell can now access multiple devices and sensors collecting environmental data and measure asset utilization spread across construction sites to harvest data. The data is sent across a LoRa low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) to the company for analysis, correlating it with other environmental data. LoRa is a low cost, highly power-efficient network technology, which is capable of transmitting data over a large area wirelessly. This makes it suitable for rugged locations, dense urban environments or multiple industrial campuses.
Through real-time dashboards, McConnell Dowell can collect telemetry data such as machine movements and track assets onsite, allowing project teams to assess efficiency of machine use, for example, and report on individual asset utilization. These real-time data feeds provide intelligent insight to support smart decision making, enhancing operational efficiency, saving time and reducing costs.
In addition, McConnell Dowell can use the solution to track building materials, such as concrete panels, from the manufacturer through transportation to installation. Onsite construction experts can then identify each individual panel and make smart decisions, avoiding incorrect placement, rework and project delays.
A smart future for construction
The recent pandemic has impacted the construction industry like most other vertical markets. It has exposed the gaps between traditional ways of working and the benefits technology can bring. Digitization is inevitable to improve resilience, sustainability and better control costs. IoT will play a pivotal role in bringing greater visibility and transparency to the construction industry.
McConnell Dowell is now rolling out the IoT platform across its sites. It is also looking at more use cases and business applications where Orange could integrate the IoT platform to support agile construction teams to better collaborate, enhance workflows and proactively improve safety. The end goal: the ability to shorten timelines and completing projects faster and more efficiently.