How 5G Technology Can Help You Make Better Connections in Construction

The biggest industry in the world needs the strongest technology.
By Ritesh Mukherjee
June 21, 2023

The construction industry is the largest industry on the planet. Spending on construction accounted for 13% of global GDP in 2020. The construction industry has generally had lower investments in technology, with only 1.2% of its revenue allocated to information technology (IT). This is significantly lower than the 3.5% average across industries.

Tight margins in construction possibly contribute to low IT spending. The usage of IT is also limited to back-office systems rather than construction tasks. This is because, traditionally, it was only possible to connect IT equipment to the network by plugging it into a wall, which was only possible after a wall was built. 5G changes that.

When we think of 5G for construction, we are immediately drawn to the image of futuristic construction sites with site-mapping drones whizzing around, remote-controlled cranes lugging materials, autonomous delivery trucks driving by, workers wearing mixed-reality goggles and managers working on holographic digital twins, not unlike any number of scenes from the “Iron Man” movies. These, along with improved quality, lowered costs and ensuring compliance and safety in the construction industry, are just some of the tasks that 5G networks can enable.


Some of them are why construction companies research and implement 5G networks. So, with these implementations, how will 5G revolutionize the construction world?

Improve quality: By employing technology such as virtual reality, digital twins, BIM and autonomous robots, 5G can reliably and instantaneously transmit visual data, letting managers better monitor progress. 52% of all rework in construction is caused by poor project data and miscommunication, which can be avoided by using 5G networks. Construction industry workers spend nearly 35% of their time, over 14 hours per week, looking for information and dealing with rework. 5G networks can enable real-time data sharing anywhere.

Data that originally took days to coordinate between field and office locations can be instantly available on any connected device; personnel no longer need to carry physical contracts, blueprints and work orders. With 5G networks and 5G-connected site-scanning robots, businesses can utilize digital twins with 3D BIM to map against actual construction processes. Presenting these virtual and realistic scenes to workers with virtual-reality glasses will enable high accuracy and improve productivity by 30%-40%.

Lower costs: On a regular basis, 84% of firms report higher construction costs than anticipated. Sensors in equipment and drones on worksites connected to the 5G network can monitor environmental and equipment conditions to enable productivity, proactive maintenance, regulated access, materials tracking, spatial inspection and other tasks. Automated and real-time monitoring of shipments over 5G networks improves visibility, allowing companies to meet demand fluctuations and provide accurate responses. With predictive analytics, construction sites can maintain optimal stock levels. These functions enabled by 5G will help reduce costs.

Enable compliance and safety: In 2021, nearly 1-in-5 workplace deaths and 46.2% of all fatal falls, slips and trips occurred in the construction industry. Using 5G technology can further safety and compliance measures. Supervisors can monitor workers for compliance regulations such as wearing protective equipment, having permits and training to operate machinery, and having access to restricted work areas. Sensors can track jobsite air quality and temperature to ensure safe working conditions. Communication between workers and sites over the 5G network can be used to coordinate emergency response, alert for immediate help and identify reckless incidents. Automated video surveillance of the sites over the 5G network can prevent theft and loss. The footage can also be used to identify and improve responses to any incidents. Self-driving or remote-controlled equipment connected via 5G can perform high-risk and repetitive tasks, reducing the risk of injury to construction crews.


70% of contractors believe that advanced technologies can increase productivity (by 78%), improve schedule (by 75%) and enhance safety (by 79%). 5G networks can connect these technologies with physical sites, office locations and computer resources in the cloud. Imagine a scenario where a crane operator at a construction site is hauling a load of concrete to pour. The crane operator must have a view of the path on the ground and in the air. They have to listen to their spotter over the noisy environment, align the load perfectly using his joystick and dump the load. It is a difficult task that only deft operators can accomplish.

Now imagine the operator is in a temperature-controlled room with video screens and a laser-guided joystick controlling the crane connected via 5G network. There is a marked improvement in operation quality with laser-guided precision and continuous distance calculations. The delivery times and costs have also improved, as the task can be automated. The crane operator is in a complete safety environment, and the crane can be automatically brought to a standstill if it detects any presence.

Technology giants like Sidewalk Labs by Google, Elon Musk’s The Boring Company and others are knocking on the doors of the construction industry by using technology to enable urban planning, smart cities and digital twins. Gammon Pte. Limited, Hyundai E&C and other construction companies have started leveraging 5G networks for construction. Within 10 years, full-scale digitization could lead to savings between $0.7-1.2 trillion (13- 21%) in the design, engineering and construction phases and $0.3-0.5 trillion (10-17%) in the operations phase. 5G is a necessity for these digitization strategies to succeed. By utilizing 5G, the construction industry can become a forerunner in improving quality, lowering costs and enhancing safety.

by Ritesh Mukherjee

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