Construction sites have always exerted a great fascination. Excavators digging foundations and moving tons of earth. Metre-high cranes, visible from afar, that carry entire house walls. Blasting that moves mountains and makes room for roads and tunnels. In order for the work steps of large-scale projects to mesh smoothly, masterful planning and logistical feats have to be performed in the background. These have long since gone beyond the provision of powerful machines. Digitalisation does not stop at construction either
Architects and project planners develop models via bandwidth-intensive software applications in the cloud, which site managers and foremen access on the move for the execution processes on construction sites. The leading Swiss construction and real estate service provider Implenia has also recognised this and networked its construction sites with innovative SD-WAN technology as part of its cloud-first strategy.
Major project digitalisation
The multinational company based in Opfikon (Zurich) has many years of experience with complex large-scale projects. Specialising in real estate development, structural and civil engineering and specialist construction services, Implenia has successfully completed projects worth billions, such as the gap closure of underground line 5 in Berlin and the Gotthard Base Tunnel, in addition to sustainable urban districts. The company has also been awarded the contract to build one of the deepest metro stations in Europe: The “Sofia” underground station near Stockholm is located one hundred metres below the earth’s surface. Across Europe, the company is active on countless construction sites in the DACH region as well as in France, Norway, Sweden and Italy. The projects often last several years. The sites, which were set up according to the duration of a construction phase and thus for a limited period of time, were previously connected with an MPLS network. As part of the cloud migration, Implenia has driven forward the optimisation of its network structure and developed a digital workspace concept that promotes digital, cloud-based collaboration between employees and external project participants. This enables secure access to business-relevant data and applications from anywhere at any time. This allows projects to be implemented in a more mobile and efficient way.
SD-WAN – all around flexible
“Many people associate construction with a static industry. But it has been clear to us for a long time that we have to reinvent ourselves with digital services in order to meet the constantly growing requirements. Colt offered the ideal overall package: in addition to the international positioning, the flexibility and cost efficiency of the SD-WAN technology convinced us above all,” says Flavio Losurdo, Head of IT Operation Services, explaining the decision to commission Colt with the roll-out.
With SD-WAN, not only can the individual locations be directly connected to the cloud and individually configured. Application-based routing also ensures that critical business applications remain available in a fail-safe manner, for example by prioritising them via dedicated lines. This guarantees that all project participants always have access to real-time data on the current construction status.
All connections from a single source
Within a year, Colt connected all sites, despite interim restrictions due to the Corona pandemic. The particular challenge here was to provide the geographically widely scattered, sometimes remote construction sites with the appropriate bandwidth. The network provider checked the connectivity options for each site individually in order to establish the optimal connectivity. Where possible, on-net connections were created. For the other sites, Colt made the necessary arrangements with existing carriers. As an internationally active network provider, Colt is able to draw on its strong network of wholesale partners and thus offer its customers these connections all from a single source.
Even if a construction phase is completed and a new site is set up at a different location, the network can be adapted without any problems. The required hardware, such as the CPE router for controlling data traffic across the network, is brought to the new location by Colt or taken back into the pool. The hardware packages are provided according to the bandwidth required.
Services beyond high-performance connectivity
During implementation, a flawless customer experience is a top priority for Colt: to ensure optimal connection performance, the network provider deploys a dedicated service manager and team for the project in addition to its account team. In this way, the network is continuously monitored across countries and problem resolution is quick and also from a single source, regardless of location.
“Our business has to function like a well-oiled wheel. When architects, engineers or other construction service providers come to the site, they want to be able to do their work, because delays can result in penalties. Thanks to Colt’s service management, the entire process runs smoothly. Not only does it give us a good feeling, it also gives us the time to take care of innovations ourselves,” says Flavio Losurdo, Head of IT Operation Services at Implenia, summing up the project.
The next milestone in digital transformation is also already upon us: The relocation of Implenia’s headquarters from Dietlikon to Opfikon (both near Zurich) in a building that meets the requirements of a modern, hybrid working environment tht’s even better thanks to flexible office space and optimised connectivity.