After many years of development, testing and hype, 5G has finally arrived in Australia. Although most of us will have to wait until 2020 to connect to a new high-speed network, two Australian providers have commenced limited roll-outs and 5G-enabled devices are now hitting the shelves.   
 
Compared to today’s 4G networks, 5th generation networks will:
 
  • Offer considerably faster network speeds – up to 30x faster than the NBN and 60x faster than 4G.
  • Accommodate the simultaneous connection of significantly more devices.
  • Provide much lower latency – vital to the growth of automation technologies, the use of video and the application of virtual and augmented reality.
 
5G could be a game changer across industry: enhancing the way we work; supporting the development of new technologies, devices and apps; improving workplace safety; and turbo charging productivity. Let's dig a little deeper. 
 
Productivity
 
There are many ways that 5G’s enhanced network speed, reliability and capacity could boost productivity in construction. 
 
  • If “data is king” then 5G is the new king of data. 5G networks will boast a huge capacity for fast data transmission and provide much more reliable connections – helping construction businesses to acquire, analyse and interpret data, and inform data driven decision-making.  
  • Mobile connectivity is essential in our “always on” business culture. Fuelled by growth in the Internet of Things, 5G’s ability to simultaneously and reliably connect many more devices will help the construction industry to collaborate and work smarter, faster and safer.   
  • 5G networks will achieve lower latency, reducing the “delay” that remote controlled technologies currently experience on 4G. Lower latency will make it much easier to operate automated machines, vehicles and other devices. Meanwhile, faster and more reliable connections will prevent video from cutting out, enhance picture quality and improve the safety and precision of automation technologies. These improvements offered by 5G will have a significant impact on industries like mining, which already has over 200 driverless-trucks operating in Western Australian alone.  
  • Lower latency will also encourage growth in drone technology. Unmanned aerial vehicles (or UAVs) are already capable of performing basic tasks. By expanding the application of drones in construction we can free up manpower, accelerate construction processes and improve productivity. Construction sites are already using drones to transport tools and other equipment, and for spray-painting hard to reach construction areas (using PaintCopter drones). Trials have even been performed using drones to build small structures. The possibilities really are endless.
 
Safety
 
5G networks present a huge safety opportunity for the construction industry, allowing us to reduce human exposure to workplace hazards and support the development of safety-enhancing technologies.
 
  • Augmented Reality (AR) allows businesses to integrate a world of digital information with the physical reality of construction sites, providing an exciting area of innovation for workplace safety. Reliable and high-speed data transfer on 5G-enabled worksites will allow people to reliably stream safety information as they move around a job site. For example, AR glasses could overlay the location of underground utilities; allow workers to access equipment safety manuals and view real time site plans; and alert users to the presence of other known hazards.   
  • Better jobsite connectivity – enabled by 5G – has the potential to dramatically improve site safety. Faster and more reliable network connections will allow construction businesses to relay safety information in real time, alerting the workforce to potential hazards on site before they are exposed to them.   
  • Many workplace hazards can be eliminated, very simply, by keeping people out of harm’s way. 5G-enabled drone technology will soon be able to perform high-risk construction tasks (like site inspections and surveys in dangerous and hard to reach locations), saving time and reducing exposure to hazards.   

5G promises to have a profound impact on both safety and productivity in construction, but sadly this won’t happen overnight. We need 5G to become more widely accessible in Australia, and we are also at the mercy of available 5G-compatible devices, operating systems and applications. But when Australia is ready to embrace 5G, it will have been worth the wait. 
 
Will you invest in 5G? How will 5G enhance safety and productivity in your business? Please share your thoughts and feedback via LinkedIn. 
 
Alternatively, please contact a member of the Coates Hire team on 13 15 52.
 

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