I’m not sure how many of you have the time to plan the installations, especially when they start to pile up. When you get on site you really expect all of the drawings and hardware to be on site. This is where the site survey is critical. Have you done many of the surveys? This is something to be taken seriously. Some people that go from installations to surveys may complain but this is something that you really need an eye for detail.
Surveyors, make sure you know what you’re installing and know the mounting process. Mounting the hardware may seem like doing the same thing over and over again, but it’s not that easy. Just because the towers look the same doesn’t mean that they are at the top. If you’re climbing, make sure you measure the legs at the top. You don’t want to job to stop because the mounts are wrong. Remember that the most assembly for the hardware will take place on the ground. So when doing the outside survey, make sure to look for anything that may affect the install, other stuff on the tower. When I say stuff, I mean the existing mounts, antennas, dishes to get around, cables, and grounding on the tower. The ground wires can get in your way, don’t over look it! So look for the details that could be issues for the installers. The tower work is the hot bed for issues. Make sure you know what direction the antennas will be facing, especially in microwave bur in LTE it matters as well. The high level planning should have an idea where the antennas will be facing so pay attention to your compass!
Now, look around. What are other obstacles on the ground? Do you have the space to rig and control the lines? Some sites have a small fence line that may impede the raising of hardware. The mounts, for LTE, now have so much on them, all the mounting hardware, the antennas, the remote radio heads, and all the cabling and grounding on the hardware. It is all going to need to be delivered, assembled, and rigged on the ground. This takes some real estate on the ground and you need to account for that when doing the survey. So look around and take note of all the possibilities of what you can or cannot do. Take pictures and make drawings and take notes.
OK, now the shelter, what do you need to know about it? Are you adding power? Are you adding fiber or copper for the backhaul? If there is going to be a wireless backhaul then there may be a need for more real estate in the shelter. You know to look for all of this but make sure you know who is there at this time. Often times you need to talk to the landlord to reserve your space because sometimes there may be a simultaneous build and they may take your spot in the shelter, or on the tower. So make sure you share your plans with the tower owner/manager. There is nothing more frustrating than when the people get there to do the install and there is something in your space and then that changes everything. You need to make your plans known with others, wither the PM or the landlord.
Scheduling the install with the landlord or site manager is very important. Did you ever show up on a site at the same time another crew shows up? So all that travel time and the plans, now are in jeopardy I have had this happen and then it becomes an issue for the site manager to let you know who should be doing the work. Someone loses, both parties understand but someone is out some money for the day. Someone’s schedule is impacted and the site manager needs to be held compatible. It could even be the same company when they decide to have 2 companies do installations for the same project, like the microwave backhaul could come at the same time as the LTE system. This happens. Another issue can be when the power company or the fiber provider shows up and refuses to work with people on the tower. This has been an issue in the past and can impact the go live date. If you have a good project manager this may never happen but it is very hard to control each step.
Anything can impact the schedule on a wireless build, especially weather. This is something completely out of your control and the weatherman is not going to nail the forecast more than 70% of the time. Planning around weather can be an issue and it’s something that the end customer doesn’t want to hear, but it’s a real factor in installations when you have people in the air. .
Finally, think about the oddball things that happen at some sites like security. Some sites need a security guard, unfortunately that is the world some people live in. What about traffic control, if a site is too close to a road it should be considered and it does impact cost. What rooftops, these are a major issue for so many reasons. It is something that takes so much labor to do the work just to get the equipment to the roof. Do you need a crane, this is something that is a major issue and then you need the crane operator’s help for so many things if it’s in a city.
Just remember that the guy that does the survey should be on the same page as the installers. I have seen the installers try to change everything because they feel that they do things differently. If the surveyor was an installer he would know what would or would not work but the installation crew may insist on doing things differently and it can be an issue! Installers may stall the project to get a different mount or something else may be needed to do the things the way that they feel comfortable with. So, if you’re doing the survey make sure you get the feedback from the installers to stay on the same page. You need to understand why they do the things they do so you can become a better planner. Talk to the PM and see what the problems have been. If you have a good PM then you will know how to improve your surveys and that will improve the installations and that will have a positive impact on the project.
Remember, you want to be the best you can be. It is great to be well known in a good way. Learn from your mistakes. Make the effort to talk to the installers and the PM so you know what you are doing right and what you need to improve.
You also need to give feedback to others, like let the PM know if the schedule is realistic, let the people who provided you the documentation if it’s making your job better or if there are ways to improve it. Your feedback can improve the system if you learn to give constructive feedback. What that means is that you don’t just complain and say this sucks, but put together a constructive email or thoughts to articulate exactly what the problems are. Point out what you like and don’t like, but be specific and if you see a way to improve the system or paperwork then be specific. Remember if they call you make sure you have a specific reason for the change, and it should involve saving time and money. Just saying it sucks doesn’t help anyone do anything constructive. Remember that you want to be seen as someone who is out to be the best!
So I hope this helps you do better surveys. I really hope it helps. If you have other ideas on how I can help you please, feel free to post on Facebook or Google+ under Wade4Wireless or email me at Wade4wireless@gmail.com and I will try to help you out if I can.