Dewalt announced yesterday that they will be coming out with The Future of Construction that will introduce the new age of jobsite connectivity.
They will start off by launching a fully connected system, including WiFi mesh network, and later there will be an Internet of Things platform that will enhance productivity, profitability, and safety on the jobsite.
Okay, so there’s a new rugged jobsite-friendly Dewalt WiFi access point coming out, and Dewalt intends for several to be used to create a mesh network that will connect users together.
Dewalt Wifi enables general and trade contractors to collaborate in real-time across large-scale jobsites and to easily access critical site information such as prints, schedules, budgets, and RFIs.
My question is this: when a new building goes up, how is such information presently shared?
I can see the benefit of a ruggedized access point, but questions remain. Is it connected to the internet, and if not, is it simply a WiFi network for user-to-user connections? If so, there would need to be software and apps to support file sharing and communication.
As for the Internet of Things (IoT) aspect, Dewalt mentions their Tool Connect inventory management system as being one component of “total asset management” that “will become part of the larger digital platform providing critical data to inform decision-making.
A technologist for a construction company was quoted in the press materials as saying:
Entering the connectivity space is a great move for DEWALT and a promising opportunity for the industry. They bring a wealth of expertise to the industry as the first company to truly focus on creating a platform to support the Internet of Things. In tackling connectivity, we see huge potential and opportunity for DEWALT and the wider construction community.
I have never worked at a large commercial jobsite, so perhaps that is why I am not quite seeing the “potential and opportunity” for this system.
Dewalt’s announcement seems premature, as there are scarcely any details for substantial commentary.
The press materials start with:
DEWALT announces the new age of jobsite connectivity with its unprecedented effort to make building more efficient through digital solutions. Over the coming months, DEWALT will launch a fully connected system, including WiFi mesh network and, later, an Internet of Things platform, to enhance productivity, profitability, and safety on the jobsite.
So the launch of the “fully connected system” is way out, with the WiFi mesh network being months away, and somewhat vague Internet of Things platform promises even further out.
I’m sorry, but I find myself rolling my eyes a bit.
The announcement tries hard to fill readers with excitement and positive emotions – and I’ve found that it does do that to me to an extent – but what I see is skin and no meat.
There’s lots of talk about jobsite needs, and promises that Dewalt will meet those needs thanks to their “unprecedented efforts.”
We know the “why,” but I’m in the dark as to the “what” and “how.”
Are the access points powered by 20V Max batteries? Will they be better than similar consumer products? How?
How do commercial contractors communicate now? Will a mesh network really facilitate better communication?
Where there be an internet access point to connect the network to the internet? If a 3rd party device is needed, what’s the benefit of Dewalt’s products in comparison? (That’s why I’m wondering if the access points will be 20V Max battery-powered.)
Dewalt’s press release and announcement doesn’t tell me anything. they have a new microsite for the “construction site WiFi,” but it doesn’t tell me much.
At the microsite, it says Dewalt’s “patented wireless-mesh technology” expands “single-location WiFi to the entire jobsite.” Okay, so that suggests it requires an existing WiFi access point. This allows “site managers” to “connect to the internet where they need it most.”
Oh, okay. But… why wouldn’t a site manager tether from their smartphone or tablet, or have a plug-in cellular module for their laptop?
Beyond that, it mentions that the new Dewalt access point will increase productivity, enabling the sharing of real-time data, and allow connected parties to collaborate live.
This is all very exciting, but I’m not excited yet. Then again, I’m not a commercial contractor, and I’m not yet seeing the potential any of this could bring.
You know what I think? Milwaukee’s NPS17 – their annual new product media event – will take place next week. Last year, Milwaukee’s social teams were very active during Dewalt’s event, fiercely talking up their 9.0Ah HD battery pack while Dewalt’s FlexVolt news was being trickled out by the media. I think that Dewalt knows of an upcoming Milwaukee One-Key technology release or announcement, and is trying to “steal the show” a little bit.
If true, I can’t blame them, I just wish there was a lot more to go on.
I thought that I had read that Dewalt had teamed up with Procore – so maybe this is an extension of what they are doing with them.
We were sometimes subcontractors on large jobs – supplying things like office building kitchen areas or custom cabinetry for executive suites. When I retired – we were starting to see moves by A/E/Constructors to more fully automate the process of supplying construction drawings – with updating and version control – and then come back in to handle change requests, punch lists and as-builts. I can see the potential for paper drawings being phased out entirely in favor of a cloud-based system. The age of the van arriving on the jobsite each morning with a load of revised drawings for the day’s work may be over.
I’d venture a guess that maybe the mesh system is there to utilize one existing internet connection (be it fixed or mobile) and extending it through the work area for everyone to use on their own devices.
yeah, that is all a mesh system is meant for really. Make a large LAN all with access to one internet connection, and remain under a single SSID (something most ‘extenders’ couldn’t do properly).
if these are actually 20v Max routers, I guess that it’s a great idea…otherwise, there are already plenty of options with extremely well developed software and control…that it’s a pretty odd animal for Dewalt trying to compete with…but I guess none of it matters until more info is released…
I Google’d Dewalt + Procore and found this:
Productivity: I can only imagine it goes something more like “Hey Fred, pull up the inventory for the items in this room on the tablet. I don’t want to be half-done this room and find out we needed to install another light socket or whatever. We’re on the 18th floor, and I don’t wanna waste any time.” If you’ll notice, that isn’t world-changing, just convenient. Instead of having to “Radio In” to check if they’ve got what they need on a huge job site, they can carry around a tablet/work with a partner/pull out their Cell, and double check whatever they need to double check before any mistakes, arguments, or disagreements over who is right about the issue happen. So, in THAT sense, it would make the jobsite “More Productive”… but… as I’ve also never worked a large job site or construction job… I can only see that as being a tiny, tiny problem. Maybe someone who has worked a large construction job can see it as more valuable than I can, I don’t know. It really does sound like the Marketing department at DeWALT is on drugs.
Safety: I don’t get why this is safer. If someone accidentally drops a phone, tablet or IoT device due to high winds, or slippery conditions… does the Mesh network track that movement and interpret it as that individual has, themselves, passed through enough WiFI zones fast enough to set off alerts that they may be in distress? If their IoT devices include tags that connect and locate loads of things that specific people need, and suddenly that device registers a rapid drop from a high place, does it alert everyone in the zone below that to run due to falling objects? Will it alert people in certain areas that hazardous loads with tags that say so are incoming to their location, and clear out?
Without knowing WHAT their IoT plan is, I can’t speculate. If we’re talking WiFI only, and it’s a mesh network… the closest I can guess is that you have to have login credentials on your personal devices in order to access said mesh network. If someone signs out a tablet for productivity/specs, but the mesh network never sees their personal device enter the mesh network’s range after a given amount of time, I can see it being a smart enough tool to send an alert to whatever manager or foreman that there is something wrong with that person. Maybe an accident has happened, maybe they suddenly collapsed, or just generally they haven’t showed up to work… perhaps it shows on a log, and allows whoever is checking to call them and see if they’re okay? So… Safety in terms of having compassion for sick days or whatever. But, again… Having such an expensive tech tool to make that job easier isn’t world changing, though it is significantly more “Neat” than the scenarios I can think of for productivity. A piece of Technology with functions that are deliberately for compassion? Neat! But, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t ring of the Marketing Department being on Drugs again.
As to Profitability: …I can only think this system would just make the whole jobsite run smooth enough that you can take on more jobs in a year, or a company owner can run multiple crews, and manage Human Resources, Pay Hours, and general Money-Stuff easier, with logs and reports and stuff being sent back to them regularly. So they can save money one place, and spend money another, getting them more work, which translates to more money. Plus, I would imagine you only have to buy the system once, and re-use it for multiple projects over the course of years… so… You know… it isn’t as costly or something. Again… Mentioning this as “Profitability” isn’t world-changing… But, it certainly still fits in with the Marketing team at DeWALT being on Drugs.
I love DeWALT TOOLS. Have a deep, seeded, gut hatred of their Marketing team. This kind of crap is what is wrong with so many Tech and Tool companies. They’re letting useless idiots do the talking, and paying them disgusting amounts of money to do so. Meanwhile, the people who actually buy and use the products are left pissed off at them because they both won’t get to the point, AND wasted their time and money making them stand there and listen to this double-talk nonsense, just to do jobs that don’t pay a tenth what these Marketing Chimps are being paid.
It would fix one of the issues with the BT and other tool devices, tags, batteries, etc. I mean OK it was nifty that you can put a tag of some flavor on your ladder and know where is it – oh but only so far as you’re within 30 ft from it otherwise you only know the last known contact point with it.
This would fix that to be a total job site view – from remote locations – of what tools/equipment I have on site A, vs site B – and how are things going. I have 8 drill ____ on site A and of the 8 6 are currently active.
Also without needing to tether to my smartphone, my computer has access- tablet – jimmies tablet – franks toughnote – and amongst us without using e-mail we can do co file transfer.
Or I can use one tether to connect multiple devices – across hundreds of feet – not right next to my smart phone. I could see it being useful to some.
Now couple that with some sort of battery snap ability and that would be niftier.
Can not imagine ever needing this .
to be fair I personally don’t need this either.
But at work – on aircraft – all the tech have a tablet (panasonic toughnote) that is good for filling out the work orders – signing off the paperwork – and the like.
We use them to look up manauals – I can send off Engineering Orders on the fly and nothing has to be printed. But in our hanger, on our ramps – we have mesh wifi installed hardwired across the area. Considerable expense but we use it for many things and multiple departments. I could see a construction site could benefit from a ready portable netowrk solution – while the other hardwire work isn’t finished. AND they don’t want to have to give everyone a cell enabled device
Well Procore/Dewalt (see the link above) will be having a an announcement on June 13th. Maybe they will make it clear why we should want/need this.
Having a had a contract for installation work on a 44 story tower, I can see how something that improves coordination among all the contractors, the site construction manager and the AE would have value. We wasted (although we were compensated) a batch of time on one job – because when we arrived, the roughing in plumbing was just a bit off – possibly from reading mirror-image or reversed prints for some locations. Not saying that the Dewalt system would have caught or fixed that – but coordination and double checking is always good.
The talk about one wi-fi and mesh is referring to one big wireless SSID being broadcast by several wireless access points. When you connect to one and walk across the jobsite, it will automatically connect you to the next AP without dropping the connection or connecting to some new SSID and getting a new IP. My guess is that one of them will have a USB port or ethernet jack to plug in a 4g modem or direct internet connection (from the office/satellite ISP). If they are smart they would run off the compact batteries and get at least a full day per charge.
As far as why, a lot of construction hasn’t made the same technological jumps that other fields have. Given stable internet, I imagine many would get away from copies of copies of plans (with multiple versions and edits strewn throughout) to rugged tablets and one shareable plan with real-time edits and image uploads. 4G tablets could do the same, but the costs and maintenance of all those contracts are prohibitively expensive and annoying. They would also enable IP cameras to keep eyes on the jobsite during work hours (for safety) and after hours (for security).
I’m still waiting for MS’s hololens to become reality, where techs can overlay schematics directly over their field of view, or get real-time assistance from someone online who can see everything you are seeing.
Not quite. The mesh part is about the access points talking with each other on a separate channel so that they can better spread the internet pipe juice from the one that has the hook up. Better done by hard wiring of course, but still those pucks should have beefier antennas then 99% of end consumer devices.
The LITERAL definition of WiFI Mesh is a series of linked access points that connect to a Router for control, and path tracking. Access Points don’t generate SSIDs, they’re just repeaters for the SSID source controller, usually a Router, but sometimes a Computer that is the Gateway to the Router. These DeWALT ones appear to be ruggedized self-contained cell units (Cell as in Contained Cell, not Cellular Phone) that auto-connect to eachother in a mesh formation. Rather than one having a USB port, I imagine one has a Network port, to be connected to an onsite Broadband Router, running whatever high-speed Internet connection they can get, either Cellular LTE, 3G, 4G, or some kind of Satphone company’s broadband Modem.
With so few details as to exactly what these things’ specs are, we can only jump to bad conclusions about what they are. A WiFI Mesh is remarkably good at keeping a signal repeating from a central source, but… on a Jobsite? With all those electric tools generating EM static in the air? DeWALT isn’t that stupid. I may think their Marketing Team is on Drugs, but the company itself is not stupid. These APs do something to generate reports, or they have an app coming to accompany them. They haven’t specified what they’ll do, but just spreading the Internet across a Jobsite will do one thing, and one thing only. Get construction workers looking at Porn on company time. Nowhere in that statement does it make any sense for DeWALT to develop that. These are not normal Access Points. They do something. I can only speculate they can track unique IDs and locations throughout the worksite via signal-strength location mapping. AP 1 has 5 bar strength with user 1, AP 4 and 6 have 2 bar strength with User 1, user 1 must be 5 feet away from AP 1, and on the floor below AP 4, facing a wall in the same direction as AP 6, which is on the same floor as AP 4. That kind of thing. I would also imagine, to do this, they’d be a Multi-Band WiFI system, where Home Routers and WiFI tends to be just 2 or 3-band, these things would probably be closer to 5-10 band, so they can broadcast tracking and report data on a different signal than the signal the users need to pull data from the main unit’s Internet connection.
I would also imagine they’re going to come out with remarkably simplistic, borderline Arduino-class IoT devices to just tag things like tools, loads of materials, and either vehicles or people themselves so that the WiFI Mesh can see the physical people and assets as they move among the signals. A version of the TAG that is WiFI rather than Bluetooth kind of thing. Having an attachment that can post your tool’s activity to Twitter doesn’t make any sense at all, so we’re talking WiFI attachment/integration for their IoT devices, not full on Internet-Access-on-the-door-of-the-fridge level of IoT devices, which as another poster mentioned… is commonly hacked. Again… DeWALT Marketing may be on Drugs, but DeWALT isn’t stupid… their IoT devices won’t be complex enough to hack. It wouldn’t make any sense to hack them at all. They wouldn’t do anything worth hacking. It’s a job site. Expanding into WiFI onsite wouldn’t make sense for anything other than tracking and reporting things that are connected. Their IoT devices would have to do nothing mechanically or physically in order to keep with that.
But… Again… FRUSTRATINGLY… Marketing is Smoking something wacky, and we’re all speculating on what their double-talk really means… So here we are… speculating… Though I’d rather be speculating if I could TRULY get away with strangling the people in DeWALT Marketing for doing this to us.
I guess we can sit in on the webcast.
Here’s the teaser:
“DEWALT and Procore, both born of construction, are coming together to discuss the future of the connected jobsite. You’re invited to join our follow-up webinar as we dive deeper into DEWALT’s latest announcements on bringing the new age of jobsite connectivity. We’ll discuss our shared vision of connecting people, devices and applications on a single platform and why having a single source of data is the future of Construction.”
This sort of tech may appeal to some, but for those of us that work in small crews and on small jobs its pretty much of limited interest, or at least of absolutely no interest to anyone I work with or know personally.
Out of all the guys I know that use Milwaukee including the 4 of us that work together, not one even owns or wants a one key tool, let alone be interested in this stuff.
I sincerely hope that this is not a pre-emptive step by Dewalt to counter something that Milwaukee have for NPS17. Because if that is the case, the focus for NPS17 will be this rather than power tools.
On a positive note, I have heard a rumour that NPS17 will see the release of an HVAC vacuum pump. Mind you it is just a rumour.
I’ve been wanting something like this for a few years now. If I understand what it is. LOL
I work on commercial and residential job sites. Many times a day I need to download product specs from the company’s website, because the owner or contractor has only a model number of the product and now the revel ant info.
When I have cell service this is not problem. However on big commercial jobs many times their is no cell service inside the building and trying to get outside on a big project can be quite the hassle at times. Wifi hotspots in many locations would be great for this.
On residential jobs these can be out of cell service area and this can be a real pain. Try driving 20 minutes to get a cell signal strong enough to down load a file. If the contractors had a wifi hotspot connected to a cable line or even a dsl line would help out a lot. If it’s a remodel many time I use the owners wifi to get on but on new construction you are sol.
As more construction jobs need an internet connection I think this could good tool. If this is what it is.
“IOT” means getting hacked and causing more trouble than its worth.
Question #1 : can the firmware be updated and is there anyone to maintain it?
If not then this is just another internet connected toaster waiting to join a malware BOT of the week.
Cmon…another stupid product by Dewalt…I’m hugely invested in Dewalt and I just want them to make more cordless brushless tools period….I run two large building companies and the supervisors and foreman use tablets or iPads ….plans of any size ,change orders anything can be and is done on them…….ridiculous Dewalt
The Procore video is great….their guy clearly gets it….the DeWalt guy….meh. If this really does work as a repeater and runs off a tool battery, I can see the use. Otherwise, it looks like a router with a hardhat! For that matter, couldn’t you just use the dewalt charging station with 120v output to power a bonafide internet device?
Just about any job that is larger than cookie cutter housing development is going to have change orders. Things that don’t fit, plans that are modified. The way it currently works is the changes happen, maybe an email gets sent, a few of the directly involved workers know WTF is happening and everybody else runs across the changes that may screw up their plan later on. I’d love to see things like plan updates and change orders inside an app that is talking to some kind of jobsite server thing. The off site guys (engineers, owners, architects) are busy making changes while the workers and construction contractors are seeing real updates that they can look at right now instead of waiting for some email to trickle down through the company. It could be better, but it could also be a distraction. Depends on the individual worker.
I don’t have any experience with procore. From their website they look to be a very popular construction software company. I am curious about their partner with Dewalt. I don’t see the benefit unless Dewalt is pumping a lot of money into this. The target audience for this sort of device are naturally those who already using some sort of procore software. It could also be that Procore is testing the tool integration side with Dewalt being their first partner. Other than that it look like a very odd married to me.
From a hardware perspective I don’t see anything new. If anything it is the software integration that make or break this system. So it definitely need the full backing of a software powerhouse.
The “Internet of Things” aspect is likely of little utility EXCEPT for large projects that have only a few of Specialized Tool X. If you need X, IoT would allow you to know exactly where X is, rather than having to chase around the site trying to find it. Perhaps in significant hard rock work having some IoT enabled drills and the like could allow one to more accurately assess bit consumption rates and the like so that the site prep work doesn’t go down for half a day because they hit some especially tough sections and ran out of drill bits.
Now, safety, there’s probably a lot of opportunities there. Linked hazmat detectors, low voltage continuity break detection for scaffolding, proximity detection so that some mook in the basement is less likely to throw a circuit live when someone is 20 stories up is working on it, etc.
None of this, however, has any relation to my use.
Can’t wait to see how many of these IOT devices get attacked and start mining bit coins or turn into a botnet for DDOS.
Just a glorified router….there are much cheaper alternatives….