Gigabit Ethernet Toolbox
By Michael Scott
Adoption of emerging technologies in today’s construction industry -- from the latest CAD and 3D modeling and printing platforms to the proliferation of always-on mobile devices and cloud-based services -- has vastly improved the pace, quality and volume of information that’s shared and processed throughout the life of a construction project.
However, many firms in the construction, engineering and architectural sectors find themselves facing challenges with the performance of their existing communications networks. As they move to adopt and accommodate the bandwidth-intensive technologies that will help improve the value proposition for their customers, they are discovering that a slow communications network affects productivity for both employees and customers.
As technology innovation such as fiber-only Ethernet solutions up to 100 Gbps are becoming more affordable, many firms in the construction ecosystem are discovering that it is possible to expand their network to accommodate their increasingly digital toolbox and better serve their clients.
BANDWITH ENABLES BETTER COLLABORATION
One of the key factors in a successful project has always been collaboration with the customer throughout the project — from the initial inception throughout change orders to the completion stage. Smartphones, tablets and laptops mean employees now can work remotely more efficiently with projects that are increasingly becoming "paperless." However, technology enabling tight collaboration requires sufficient bandwidth.
Many firms routinely transfer large AutoCAD files back and forth to clients, vendors and subcontractors to confirm design changes. These files can reach several hundreds of megabytes in size.
Additionally, many companies also have remote and regional offices, or possibly a co-location facility at a remote location, to ensure continuity of operations and backup of critical data. Transferring data between multiple company locations places demands on their network as well.
While higher speed bandwidth is critical for daily operations, price is typically a consideration as well.
ETHERNET SOLUTIONS AT THE RIGHT PRICE POINT
Super-fast networks do not have to be super expensive.
Teams should conduct a series of meetings to determine each construction or engineering firm’s unique requirements. It is important to define the primary factors behind the decision to consider switching to a faster network. Other questions that need to be answered are what geographical locations will be included, future expansion plans and the budget.
For example, an engineering firm may find that expanding network capacity with a point-to-multipoint Ethernet solution between a main office, a satellite office and a co-location facility can not only provided faster speeds, but may cost approximately 30 to 50 percent lower than business connectivity services such as transmitting data via T1 and T3 lines through major telecom providers.
Ethernet protocol uses packet switching formats to efficiently move data across networks. For example, metro Ethernet solutions delivered over fiber range in speeds from 10 Mb/s to 100 Gb/s, compared to T1 lines, which run at a fixed speed of 1.5 Mb/s and T3 lines that reach data transfer speeds of about 45 Mb/s. Point-to-multipoint metro Ethernet configurations can also easily scale to match a firm’s requirements.
Greater bandwidth enables construction professionals to upload and download CAD files, digital images and other documents to and from headquarters, customer sites, and vendors much quicker.
Today’s reality is that performance of a company’s communications network helps or hinders employees and customers.
The demands of new and advanced applications and tools means companies in the construction field are looking for ways to optimize their network. For today’s firms that look to increase collaboration through technology innovation to deliver the value customers want, gigabit speed Ethernet network solutions offer performance that supports greater productivity at pricing that can be affordable.