How 5G “network slicing”can help the construction industry

Burcin Kaplanoglu – Executive director Innovation, Oracle Construction and Engineering, www.oracle.com/nz

As more stories come out about the potential use of 5G across different industries, the construction industry is one that could quickly see specific – and significant – benefits from the technology.

One such use case could be around the “network slicing” capability of 5G, which enables communication service providers to tailor connectivity services to the precise requirements of any given application, user, device, or context.

Practical benefits of 5G for construction projects

Monitoring the health, location, status, and specifications of assets of all kinds on site is crucial, and 5G can help in terms of data collection, capture, and analysis.

This can, for example, confirm whether site machinery is operational and available to be used, and capture the status of an order such as a window frame or fire extinguisher to assist to ensure the project schedule is on track.

High bandwidth and low latency from 5G should improve data capture across project delivery processes. Increased visibility into data informs decision-making in the design phase, helps minimise issues and changes during construction, and potentially decreases future renovations.

As technology solutions available to construction projects gain traction, we could see more IoT and reality capture solutions on site helping in a number of ways.

They can provide real-time, rich, visual information to the owner as well as an ondemand transparent view of the project at any particular moment in time.

But what additional value could network slicing bring to construction’s use of 5G?

Tiered prioritisation

For construction businesses to benefit from these use cases, connectivity will be key to ensure the information captured is available at the point and time of need.

As a result, bandwidth will become a potential battleground on site as the competition for which data and information is most important intensifies.

A possible solution is to adopt a tiered prioritisation approach ensuring 5G capabilities are utilised on those processes requiring the greatest bandwidth such as video or other visuals.

“A possible solution is to adopt a tiered prioritisation approach ensuring 5G capabilities are utilised on those processes requiring the greatest bandwidth such as video or other visuals.”

It would essentially mean creating different access points and levels for specific use cases.

But as with any new technology, there will likely be a learning curve: What construction projects consider to be the highest tier initially may not turn out to be the highest tier in the long run.

We could well see a tiered prioritisation strategy that considers safety, security, and bandwidth at different phases of a construction project, so what may be thought of as a tier one activity may not remain so.

Either way, the benefits of 5G and capabilities of “network slicing” open up many possibilities for engineering and construction businesses to find efficiencies, improve safety, mitigate risk, and reduce security concerns on projects; while the build quality can also be enhanced through more accurate updates to the real time plan.

About the author

Dr Burcin Kaplanoglu is the executive director and innovation officer Oracle Construction and Engineering. When it comes to construction technology, Burcin has one of the most impressive CVs in the industry.

Before joining Oracle he spent over 15 years at Lendlease, where he was vice president, director of operations at Lendlease’s Telecommunication Infrastructure Business Unit. He is also adjunct professor at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering in the US.

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