Shetland project trials technology tipped to deliver huge benefits for construction sector

BAM Nuttall has announced that its partnership with Attocore and Building Research Establishment (BRE) has switched on and is using a private, stand-alone 5G network on a UK construction site for the first time.

Located on a remote site in Shetland, BAM’s project team is designing and constructing the civils infrastructure at Kergord for SSEN Transmission’s HVDC convertor station and substation, part of the Shetland HVDC link. When completed, this link between Shetland and the Scottish mainland will feed renewable energy to the electricity grid and connect Shetland to the GB grid for the first time.

The 5G network, funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), aims to test the potential of new digital technology and demonstrate ‘tangible’ benefits, along with other stand-alone networks implemented across a range of industries.

The Kergord site is said to provide the ‘ideal conditions’ to measure the benefits for the construction industry as challenges typically faced on building sites are ‘magnified’ and will stretch the use of the technology.

Harsh weather conditions and short daylight hours are commonplace, while clients and management teams can’t easily visit the site and therefore rely on reports, data, images and insights to track progress and make decisions.

Colin Evison, head of innovation at BAM Nuttall, said, “5G is unlocking increased use of digital tools and models as we explore safer, more modern and efficient ways to work in construction. We’re excited for the next steps as we trial new solutions which, without the 5G network, wouldn’t be possible.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the results and ultimately sharing the benefits across wider industry. We’re proud to be working in collaboration with SSEN Transmission and thank them for supporting this trial as we help deliver the decarbonisation of Scotland – helping to achieve net zero carbon, and increase diversity, by modernising construction.”

BAM’s team is deploying numerous 5G supported solutions, including digital live cameras and drones; mixed-reality and virtual visualisation; artificial intelligence and Internet of Things sensors to monitor construction processes and measure progress.