High-speed internet to support BIM software on construction sites
More and more products and services for construction sites are available on the market. Yet often a suitable internet implementation is not yet guaranteed, particularly for big data applications. Accordingly, a lot of time is wasted finding data signals and synchronizing mobile devices. The start-up company Cosite offers wireless tools for connected construction sites, which are reliable, robust and scalable. Their system is built to support data heavy 4D BIM and construction management solutions as common applications throughout bigger teams. As Cosite puts it - it is all about collaboration and connectivity.
This interview is part of a larger dossier called Construction Start-up Radar.
- What will the construction industry look like in 2020? What role does digitization play?
Digitization is playing a major role in the evolution of our industry. However, despite the UK being relatively advanced in its use of digital solutions, when comparing the technology available against current adoption, we are nowhere near our potential. There is a lot of excitement around fresh technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality, yet in my experience, a lot of current and widely available systems are not being utilised to their full capacity.
For instance, the use of 4D BIM software is frequently restricted to a small number of individuals among a project team, and often limited to the pre-construction stage only. I’d hope that rather than simply being a visualization tool used to iron out co-ordination issues prior to starting onsite, a project's 4D BIM would become a central point of reference for all site-based staff for the entire project duration, and a platform for true collaborative working between main contractor and trades.
With that in mind, I expect 2020 will see the industry applying a lot of existing technology to a greater extent. The application of BIM based systems will continue to move out of the office environment, and become more closely integrated within the site itself.
- What is your business model? What makes you and your company unique?
Cosite is a Wi-Fi connectivity provider with a focus purely on the construction industry. As the digitization of site processes continues, fast, reliable and secure internet provision is becoming an essential element in the success of a construction project.
With the high volumes of data being transmitted, and the pace at which digital information must be exchanged, reliance on mobile data is no longer a feasible option. Wi-Fi is quickly becoming a utility like power or water, and we are establishing ourselves as the dependable provider for that service.
We are unique in that we are built upon a marriage between an established construction logistics company, and a successful events Wi-Fi provider. This gives us a well developed understanding of the issues associated with both rapid deployment of temporary Wi-Fi systems and the many challenges of an environment as dynamic and demanding as an occupied construction site.
- What is your company vision for the next five years?
In five years we’d hope to have a presence on the majority of large construction developments in Greater London, and therefore have established ourselves as the leader in this new market. The long-term plan is to leverage that position to develop innovative systems that capitalize on our core Wi-Fi service and offer major efficiency improvements to construction sites.
- What does your revenue model look like?
Unfortunately, site Wi-Fi is still seen as a luxury by many contractors so on top of the more comprehensive site wide Wi-Fi service, we also offer a very budget friendly ‘Connectivity Zones’ option which provides all the same benefits at reduced cost. Both services are charged based on installation costs – which allow for progressive install of access points as the building goes up – and an ongoing weekly subscription for the managed connectivity service.
- How is your company funded?
We are funded through private investment.
- As a start-up, what is your next goal? What partners do you need?
Our next goal is building brand awareness, and developing long-term relationships with individual clients.
With that in mind we’re looking to build partnerships with forward thinking main contractors who are willing to make the initial investment in providing Wi-Fi to their sites - and experience the efficiency benefits available, first hand. A long-term partnership will allow us to develop and test the innovative bolt-on systems that we are establishing alongside our primary Wi-Fi service.
- Who are your key clients?
Our main clients are construction companies and to some degree developers who are willing to prescribe our services.
- What are the biggest challenges your clients are currently facing?
One of the biggest challenges being faced by our clients is training their workforce to use the technologies available. There are so many new software systems and innovative mobile applications emerging, that it is difficult to train staff to utilize them. Many of these new systems have a focus on interdisciplinary collaboration, however, if only a small number of individuals are adopting them, the effectiveness is diminished. Consequently, many site-based staff are still relying on traditional solutions, when more efficient methods are available.
- What options do you offer to potential clients to face their challenges – such as workshops and coachings?
We offer site visits to demonstrate our systems and ensure our clients are using our service, and the features available, to their full capacity. However, it is a managed service so very little, if any, training is necessary when we deploy a network on a new site.
- What prerequisites – such as infrastructure and trained personnel – do your clients need to bring?
There aren’t many prerequisites beyond a progressive and open minded approach to establishing the setup of a new construction site.
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- Photos Jasmina007 / iStockphoto; Paul Bradbury / iStockphoto; sinemaslow / iStockphoto