How Jobsite Wifi Could Impact Your Projects

It’s Tuesday morning. You walk down from the 15th story of a new commercial high-rise to the jobsite trailer to see the latest update to the BIM. With a few stops on the way, it’ll be another 45 minutes until you’re back at the job.

Or, maybe you stand around, waiting for a change request to come through on your project management program. The concrete walls are going up in the basement you’re working in and the change request is taking a while to download. You pay for cellular data to get the latest information quickly and reliably, but it’s failing. You can’t start working again until you’re sure you have the latest information or you’ll risk having to do rework. You wait 15 minutes for the file to download, then end up walking to the trailer to use the WiFi.

These examples are real productivity killers that construction jobsites face every day. These time-consuming workarounds are so prevalent that they’re becoming the norm. GCs and large sub-contractors are desperate for a solution.

SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR JOBSITE WiFi PROBLEMS

First announced at ENR FutureTech in 2017, the DEWALT® Jobsite WiFi system has proven to be a simple solution to these universal problems. The system works by connecting a series of Jobsite WiFi Access Points to your existing Internet Service Provider. The first Access Point connects via an Ethernet cable to your WiFi in the jobsite trailer. Additional Access Points are then placed around your jobsite to extend the connectivity wirelessly. Only the first “origin” Access Point in the jobsite trailer requires an Ethernet connection, the rest connect wirelessly.

Although WiFi systems from your home or office can be installed on a jobsite, the DEWALT Jobsite WiFi system is designed to thrive in unique, rugged environments. The WiFi-mesh technology is engineered to adapt as construction progresses with minimal effect on performance and will recalibrate as new walls or obstructions go up. And, if one unit goes down, the network will automatically go around that unit and make a new connection to “heal” itself.

The system is also designed to be easy to set up, with each Access Point installed in about 5 minutes or less. This is critical to field staff who need to stay focused on building and not worrying about their Internet connectivity.

“We’re given the equipment and we plug and play,” says Bryton Schroeder, Assistant Superintendent for PCL Construction in the Minneapolis office. “Being able to come to a construction project this size, with the scope we have, and being able to install them and maintain the network throughout the project is great.”

Shane Swenson, IT Manager for PCL Construction in the Minneapolis office, has seen the impact of reliable, self-service WiFi on the jobsite. “The ease of deployment gives me more time to handle other things. In the little time we spent learning the system together, Bryton and his staff just took over and did it,” says Swenson. “They knew how it worked within a very short amount of time and we just let them go.”

Perhaps one of the most challenging requirements for a reliable construction WiFi solution is durability. Not only does a system need to withstand dust and dirt, but units may be placed outside in all weather conditions during early stages of construction. The origin Access Point is often placed on top of the trailer, exposed to all the elements. During development, DEWALT took extra precautions to make sure the Access Points were able to withstand jobsite rigors. After rigorous testing, the Access Points were awarded an IP67 rating, meaning they help protect against water and dust. The units can also withstand a 10-foot drop and still function properly.

“What we’ve found is that in different varying temperatures, different weather conditions, different site conditions, it just works,” says Tom Roszak, Virtual Design and Construction Manager for PCL. “We haven’t run into an issue where it hasn’t worked. That gives us the tool we need.”

Mortenson also saw similar results after trying the system at their project at Penn State University. After implementing the DEWALT Jobsite WiFi system, the Mortenson team reported increased productivity and collaboration. They estimated a 2% savings on their bottom line labor cost by reducing trips back and forth to the trailer, equaling over $175K. According to Richard Chazal, Senior Project Manager, “An always-on connection will enable us to save invaluable time on our projects by reducing trips to the jobsite trailer. Field WiFi puts regularly accessed information like plans, requests for information, shop drawings, and building information models at your fingertips.”

Visit the DEWALT.com/jobsitewifi to learn more about the DEWALT Jobsite WiFi system.