Construction companies and service providers are getting together to offer multiple solutions for instantly connecting remote job sites with all the technological trimmings needed to operate at the speed of 2013.
One general contractor found a quick, ruggedized solution to wiring job sites to the internet anywhere in range of 3G or 4G cellular connection, which would free staff from having to wait for utility companies to mobilize to the jobsite.
“It’s been that elusive thing to try and fix,” says Jim Purcell, CTO of Brasfield & Gorrie, Birmingham, Ala. He says he struggled for a long time with keeping up with late-notice or quick-turnaround jobsites. “We experimented with satellite technology. But it wasn’t reliable enough to be useful,” says Purcell.
Then Sprint, which was the company’s service provider, suggested a sitdown with Feeney Wireless to find a solution his company calls Jobsite in a Box. It is a waterproof, rugged and transportable 3G/4G/Wi-Fi hotspot, that can hop multiple cellular networks to access corporate servers and get a jobsite’s computers running.
Jobsite in a Box looks like it's just a Pelican case with a padlock on it. Outside there are three waterproof external connections for antennas, five connection ports for LAN or WAN lines and an on switch. Inside, there’s a wireless router that can be configured so when it arrives the wireless network is exactly as it would be in a company’s corporate offices, behind its firewalls.
“The goal is as soon as it arrives, you plug it in and it’s live,” says Purcell. “We are extending our network wherever that box lands.”
Purcell has 10 of the boxes deployed thus far and demand for more. Two of the boxes are being used by Derek Willis, a project manager for Brasfield & Gorrie. “We’re utilizing it as a bridge until we’re wired up by the utility companies,” he says. “It’s difficult to get anything at all out to the jobsite.”
Willis says that as soon as the box arrives, he plugs it in and is on the network. On one project he has four or five computers being simultaneously used.