The construction industry supply chain is both diverse and highly fragmented. A major construction project will feature architects, engineers, project managers, main contractors and a wealth of different subcontractors and specialist trades, not to mention multiple suppliers bringing materials on site and waste products off it.The construction industry works to very tight margins and demanding production schedules, so reliable communications are essential to ensure good teamwork, productivity and safety standards. Poor communications can cause problems that lead to delays on site, which can be very costly financially.
On a large building project main contractors and project managers need to schedule and coordinate the activities of many different trades during the lifecycle of the build programme from piling and foundation works to superstructure erection, cladding, fit out and finishing trades.
Materials and goods are often delivered on a just-in-time basis due to limited storage space on sites. All this necessitates the requirement for a highly efficient, reliable communications solution to ensure the project runs as smoothly as possible. Two-way radio systems such as Hytera’s Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) portfolio are the perfect solution. DMR systems provide reliable and consistent signal coverage across the construction site with instant (less than 300ms) connectivity via push-to-talk (PTT) technology. Two-way radios support individual, group, broadcast and emergency call types. This enables a fast response to any situation, especially in emergencies. The group calling facility saves time as particular groups of workers can all be informed of a situation or receive instructions at the same time. Site security and access controllers can quickly inform managers and trades people that a materials delivery is due on site and they can prepare to receive it.
Mobile phones have many benefits but they are not suitable for harsh and hazardous environments like construction sites. Mobile phone networks often suffer from poor coverage areas on site, particularly in remote areas and are restricted to one-to-one calling unless a Push-to-Talk over Cellular (PoC) solution is deployed.
Hytera offers a range of high quality PoC solutions, which may be suitable if the devices are ruggedised and mobile phone coverage is consistently reliable across the work site. PoC offers the same one-to-many calling options as DMR, but over public cellular networks.
Hytera’s HyTalk public network PTT communication solution provides PTT, full-duplex audio and video communication and instant messaging, as well as a complete set of clients, servers and management platforms. For devices Hytera offers the PNC370, a compact, easy-to-operate LTE handheld radio in a traditional radio form factor and the PNC550, which adopts a smartphone form factor with full touchscreen.
Construction sites are noisy environments with piling rigs, heavy construction plant vehicles, machinery, hammers, drills and cutting equipment constantly in action. It is vital that the communication devices used by workers enables them to clearly hear instructions or warnings over the radio network. Hytera DMR radios are specifically designed to cope with these kinds of noisy conditions. They provide clear and reliable audio with much louder speakers compared with mobile phones (1-3W as opposed to approximately 250mW for mobile phones). Hytera radios feature special noise cancelling technology to suppress extraneous background noise and boost voice audio levels to ensure construction workers do not miss any calls. Radios with display screens also support short text messages, which can be useful for workflow management and job ticketing functions.
Safety is a major consideration in the construction industry, as building and civil engineering work sites are intrinsically dangerous places to work with many hazards. Large sites means workers can be dispersed over wide areas and may feature lone working. Reliable communications and worker safety solutions are therefore essential. In the constantly changing environment of a construction site is it hugely important to keep workers informed and let them know immediately of accidents or potentially hazardous events such as fires, building or earthwork collapses, gas leaks, spillages and so on.
Sadly, construction often tops the league for workplace fatalities and accidents. According to the Health & Safety Executive there were 30 fatalities in the UK construction industry in 2018-19, which happens to be the lowest figure on record, down from 38 in 2017-18. Falls from height is the main reason for workplace fatalities followed by: trapped by something collapsing; struck by an object; struck by moving vehicle; and contact with electricity.
Hytera DMR radios are both a highly effective communication device and a vital worker safety device all in one. DMR radios have an emergency button, which when pushed opens up a top priority channel on the radio. It can be programmed to raise an alarm to the base station or to other radios and sends the identity of the person issuing the alarm to devices with a display screen. The radios can also support Man Down and Lone Worker safety applications. The Man Down feature will trigger an alarm after a warning has been issued to the user if the radio tilts past a certain angle. If the radio is horizontal it may mean the user has fallen over or is unconscious or injured. The Lone Worker feature has a timer in the radio which measures inactivity. If the timer goes over the preset limit, a warning is issued to the user. If there is no response from the user the alarm is triggered. If GPS technology is incorporated into the radios the worker’s location will be sent with these emergency alerts, thereby enabling them to be found and help given more quickly. All of these applications aid employers in fulfilling their obligations to their employees under the Health & Safety at Work Act and other worker safety legislation.
Construction sites are dirty, dusty and exposed to the elements, so it is important to have ruggedised radios with good shock, drop and vibration resistance and the capability to repel dust and moisture ingress. The radios also need to function normally in extremes of temperature, as Hytera DMR terminals are designed to do.
Hytera DMR radios come with high IP standards for dust and waterproofing and MIL-STD ratings for drop, shock and vibration resistance. They provide a long battery life (commonly 12 to 14 hours) making them ideal for coping with the long hours construction workers are expected to work. Hytera’s DMR 500, 600 and 700 Series of hand portable terminals and mobile radios all make excellent choices for construction sites.
Unlike mobile phones, the radios can be used with gloves. Wireless earpieces make it possible for workers to operate hands free. Hands free operation is also available for vehicle and construction plant machinery drivers such as cranes, excavators and earth-moving vehicles, dump trucks, cherry pickers, forklifts, etc.
A one-touch button can be integrated into the vehicle control panel or a PTT foot pedal installed. This allows the driver or operator to concentrate on the job and not the communication device thereby helping to ensure safe performance.
Hytera’s DMR range provides the perfect solution for any construction site’s communication needs. The terminal portfolio offers many choices from simple entry-level devices, mid-tier radios and top-of-the range devices, including small, slim line radios and multi-mode radios able to support DMR, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Given the temporary nature of construction sites and the often constantly changing topography, another really useful product for the construction industry is Hytera's E-pack100 digital wireless mobile ad-hoc networking system. The E-pack100 is an extremely compact, highly ruggedised (IP67 rated) unit capable of supporting up to 32 nodes. It provides a highly versatile, fast-deployable, instant voice (NB: not data) calling network without the need for any cables, which saves on infrastructure and installation costs. The ad-hoc network delivers a highly efficient and flexible communication system, which is self-configuring and dynamic, as the E-pack nodes can move freely about - perfect for construction sites with tunnels, deep basements and high buildings.
Hytera E-pack100 units can be linked together to form a mesh network to provide wider coverage. Radios can join and leave the network as required. If one E-pack node moves away from the network or malfunctions, voice calls will automatically route to another E-pack node in order to guarantee link continuity.
The E-pack100 can also support an embedded GSM card, so if an E-pack node fails or is away from the network users can still make calls via public GSM networks to any E-pack node on the network. This ensures radios within its coverage can communicate with radios on the network.
Whatever your needs are in construction, Hytera and its suppliers have a solution. For more information contact one of our Approved Dealers.
1 November 2019