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Delmec 2020: A Tough Year, a Brighter Future

The tree is up, the presents are wrapped and we’re awaiting the arrival of the big man in red. In many ways, it all feels very familiar, but in others, Christmas 2020 is very different indeed.

This time last year I was returning home from a sales trip around Asia. I’d covered eight countries in 12 days, a whirlwind tour of all the major cities, from Bangkok to Beijing. I spent my days meeting with clients, visiting sites, and learning more about the future of telecommunications in the region. Along the way I heard about rumblings about a SARS-like virus in China, but I had no idea of the impact it was about to have on the world as a whole.

Strength in Adversity

This year has upended our normality and thrust us into a state of constant flux. People have suffered greatly, particularly those who have been affected by this debilitating disease. Others have lost jobs and businesses they’ve worked all their lives to build. The effect on mental health, particularly on the older community, can’t be underestimated.

In times of adversity it’s possible to discover great strength, though, and I’m proud of how my team at Delmec have weathered this storm. Despite great upheaval, staff members continued their vital work, in our workshops, at our sites, and even across international borders. Others adapted quickly to working from home, fulfilling their duties while juggling family responsibilities.

Despite all the obstacles, we’ve continued to grow and expand, signing clients, undertaking assignments and developing our capabilities. I’m particularly proud of HR’s efforts to introduce staff-supporting policies and our engineering teams’ work on TiMs and the ground-breaking Project Eiffel. Our marketing and sales people worked tirelessly to build our business, bringing our new brand to life while the finance department, HSEQ and IT kept crucial cogs turning in the background. We welcomed new employees while celebrating the 20 and 25-year anniversaries of others. Every single member of the Delmec team gave it their all this year, coming together to support each other, protect our livelihoods and serve our clients during this tumultuous time.

On a personal note, 2020 has been challenging, but not without some upsides: like many people, I worked from home for most of the year, running Delmec from my kids’ playroom. Without constant travel, I spent much more time with my wife and children, and the experience really brought us closer together as a family. For the first time in years, I could explore more of my locality, enjoying beautiful runs along the River Barrow in County Carlow. We loved to amble through Rossmore Forest Park, which provided a treasured escape when cabin fever kicked in.

Like most of us, I’ll be glad to say goodbye to 2020, but I’m grateful for the lessons it’s taught us and I know the experience will make us stronger for 2021 and beyond. Our values – Solve Smart, Proactive Partners, Built Brave and Talented Teamwork – were established over 45 years, but they’re more relevant now than ever. We’re looking forward to all the possibilities that a new year brings, with projects to develop and tasks to tackle. No doubt there’ll be other challenges ahead, but the future is brightening here at Delmec, where synergy shapes success.

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Project Eiffel Innovation

Inspiring and Innovating at Delmec: Project Eiffel

Here at Delmec, we pride ourselves on being problem-solvers. Ever since we first launched in the 1970s, there’s been no challenge too tough for our people.

Nowadays, we strategise solutions with software rather than a pen and paper, but our approach is still the same: if there’s a way to make our work safer, more efficient and more beneficial for our clients, we’ll make it happen. This is the kind of thinking that led to Project Eiffel, the latest innovation from our engineering design team.

This ground-breaking new application is transforming the way we capture site audit information, saving time, increasing accuracy and delivering a powerful new project management ability that will help us scale alongside our clients.

Striving for Better

When the idea was first suggested, the engineering team identified four key areas in site audits they felt they could improve. First, they wanted to streamline the coordination and scheduling of field-based resources. “Our goal was to provide our project managers with real-time visibility into the field schedule, job progress and the ability to collaborate with field teams in real time,” says Niall Kelly, Delmec’s Head of IT. They also hoped to make the capture of the tower geometry and loading characteristics of each tower site and the subsequent structural analysis more efficient and less prone to error. Lastly, they sought to find an alternative to the complex system of generating a structural analysis report, which involved mapping multiple outputs into a format readable by humans. They knew there had to be a way to make the process faster, more efficient and more accurate too.

Putting Technology to Work

The team came together to propose a solution to these issues. They developed a bespoke mobile-based application that would work hand-in-hand with TiMS (our Telecoms Infrastructure Management System) to enable our clients to access their structural reports alongside their site selection dashboard and reporting suite.

The completed app exceeded everyone’s expectations: not only did it better coordinate Delmec’s field-based operations and structural audit reports, but it also significantly reduced errors and lead-time and improved the quality of the tower audit and design processes. Through the research, the team also developed a new way to transfer data from international locations to the Delmec design office, something that has been of major benefit during the travel challenges of 2020.

A Competitive Edge

The app is now being used in all our operations, across Europe, Africa and Asia. Its unique functionality is proving a game changer, providing real benefits and tangible savings for our clients. By allowing our teams to audit on site — with our design engineers collaborating with field resources in real time — the app enables us to make informed decisions early in the audit / design cycle, saving our clients both time and money.

Project Eiffel has also reduced the time to audit from 9 hours to 3-4 hours, depending on the complexity of the structure. This relates to a saving of $300-$400 per site in some locations. We’ve also witnessed an estimated 30-40% reduction in time to complete the structural design, allowing our teams to attend a site and produce a design within a 48-hour period while ensuring that data is captured in a consistent manner. This has led to an improvement of the quality of the data capture too, with consistently high QA pass rates. Clients are especially pleased with the app’s ability to generate a digital twin of the structure in seconds, which historically took between 4-6 hours.

There are benefits in terms of project management too, as the app facilitates rapid deployment and simplified training of staff and contractors. In the future, this bespoke feature will enable the company to professionally manage large Telecom Network Systems around the world. Over time, Project Eiffel will significantly increase Delmec’s capacity and improve its business processes, providing a strong competitive edge and allowing the company to scale in accordance with the needs of its large, multinational client base. “When I started the engineering path, I always wished to work on something cool, new, and interesting,” says lead engineer Sreto Janic, who participated in the project. He takes great pride in knowing that his ideas “became a part of this new, bright future for Delmec.” Project Eiffel is the result of inspiration, innovation and most importantly, collaboration; synergy shapes success in Delmec, with our clients, our partners and our talented team.

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Leading from the Home Front

Like many CEOs right now, I’m running my company from my home. After more than twenty years working from our headquarters in Carlow, Ireland, it’s been quite the change.

In March, when Ireland first went into Covid-19 lockdown, I converted my kids’ playroom into an office, creating a business hub within the house. It worked well, at least initially, as I reclaimed a lot of time previously spent travelling between our international offices. My family was happy too — previously I was away 30-50% of the time, whereas now I was based downstairs, focusing on managing and adapting Delmec’s operations across 40 countries.

As time progressed, though, the lack of social interaction began to take its toll. Delmec is a lively place, bringing together engineers and executives from all over the world to strategise solutions: I missed the energy of the office, and the day-to-day conversations with my colleagues. I knew I’d need to put a plan in place to help me cope with the transition, mentally as well physically.

The solution came with establishing a rigid routine: I’d start the day with a 5km run at 6am, followed by a good breakfast. To mimic my old commute, I’d drive for a take-away coffee at 7:15, and be back at my desk for 8am. Once there, I’d dive into regular phone calls with my management team and close clients — I’m a hands-on leader, and I like to be involved.

My stomach starts rumbling by 12:30, and I usually leave home again to grab some lunch. After that, it’s onto reviewing plans, discussing strategies and checking in with overseas sites. As a company, Delmec adapted quickly to the change in circumstances because all our systems are online. We deliberately designed them that way, so our international offices can work together seamlessly, while thousands of miles apart. I try to call it a day by 6pm GMT, and head out for a brisk walk or a game of tennis to wind down and clear my head.

We’re fortunate to be able to continue our work from home, but it’s not without its challenges. Just as before, leadership is about care as well as guidance. I soon realised that like me, our staff were missing the social interaction of the office, and I needed to support them through this change. We launched policies and initiatives to keep people connected as well as safe: our teams meet once a week and each person spends two days physically in the office. For newer staff members, we have extra support, with on-site training and induction with a designated supervisor. Our hope is that this new framework will help us to foster more workplace flexibility once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

The initiatives have been well-received; we had predicted some hiccups, but were surprised by a few softer issues too. We’ve worked hard to build a culture of support and encouragement at Delmec, and we understand the need to evolve as we all adjust to a new working environment. We don’t know what the coming months or even years will hold for us in our industry, but adapting is something we’re good at in Delmec. Whether it’s from a mast 500 feet in the air or at the desk in my kids’ playroom, I’m proud to be leading an incredible team into a bright future, whatever it might look like.

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In Partnership with Cellnex – One year celebrations

Here at Delmec, we understand that synergy shapes success, so we’re pleased to share in our partner Cellnex Ireland’s celebrations as they toast one year since their acquisition of Cignal. It’s one more exciting milestone for a business that first began with the purchase of 300 towers from Coillte Ireland.

Cellnex, the parent company, is now Europe’s leading independent operator of wireless telecommunications infrastructure, with a total portfolio of over 60,000 sites. In Ireland, their work helps to support mobile, fixed wireless broadband communications and broadcast services.

Delmec has long been a trusted partner of Cellnex: we’ve worked on the Cignal portfolio since 2015, supplying a wide range of services over the years, including maintenance, rectification and optimisation. One of our most rewarding tasks has been creating additional capacity on existing structures while minimising the impact on existing tenants.

Streetworks Solutions

Our work with Cellnex involves drawing on our engineering heritage too. In partnership with Cellnex, Delmec designs, manufactures and installs a range of exclusive streetworks structures for its growing portfolio. Through the efforts of our talented teams, we’ve supplied 152 structures in the past 18 months, ranging from 66m high capacity towers to 12m street works solutions. Bringing these specialist projects from concept to reality involves the close collaboration of our companies, our colleagues and our diverse engineering team.

Like all our partners, from towercos to network operators, Cellnex trusts us to provide creative solutions to their toughest challenges. Our streetworks programme is a careful choreography of structural, electrical, radio and transmission disciplines. Cellnex’s requirements are first translated into a three-dimensional design. The structure and its discreet root foundation are then subjected to a finite element analysis by our engineering team before being committed to steel by our craftsmen and women. Meanwhile, our skilled active works team design a fully integrated radio equipment solution combining AC& DC power, optical fibre and wireless backhaul and a force ventilated radio enclosure. The beauty in this solution is in how little of it is visible to the general public as it’s packaged in the smallest form factor feasible.

The solution’s active and passive elements are assembled and tested in our factory, allowing our on-site team to carry out the final install quickly and effectively, with minimal disruption to the general public. The result is a simple, neat addition to the streetscape, with every nut, bolt and cable helping to improve our national telecommunications network

A Busy Year, More To Come!

Cellnex’s first year in Ireland has been a busy one, but there is much more to come: they’ve got plans to invest an additional €60m to build up to 600 new sites by 2026. Delmec will continue to be a key partner to this ground-breaking company, helping them fulfil their mission of supporting the increased high-speed wireless broadband in rural areas and helping mobile phone operators address coverage blackspots. We’re working together to connect communities, from 2015 to 2020, and for many years ahead.

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TowerXchange Forum on Drones & Digital Twins

Delmec proudly sponsored the latest TowerXchange Data Collection & Utilisation Working Group forum, focusing on ‘The Application of Drones and Digital Twins’. The popular event, which took place on the 17th September, brought together leading stakeholders from around the world to drive enhanced data strategy within the global tower industry. 

Participants gathered to examine the potential of drones and digital twins, discussing their projected evolutions and asking ‘what promise do they hold, what limitations still exist and are towerco data sets ready to get the most out of them?’

Key Findings

A number of key findings were highlighted by the TowerXchange team, who found that the use of drones in the TowerCo industry is inevitable. While the technology’s capabilities are still being reviewed, those companies already using drones found the data to be good, if not better than that obtained through conventional techniques.

Damien Kelly – Delmec’s Head of Engineering and Innovation – spoke at the event, sharing his expertise and experience with the audience. He emphasised the importance of data in crafting client solutions, particularly with regard to Capex reduction and more efficient overall portfolio management. Drone technology offers many benefits in the collection of data and may also pay for itself in the long run. “Predictive maintenance is a clear advantage of using drones,” Damien said. “This can also act as a strong metric to calculate the ROI of using this technology.”

He cautioned that drone technology isn’t yet the answer to all TowerCo challenges, though. “Using drones in favour of current processes needs to be thoroughly thought out due to the vastly different capabilities when compared to the standard approach,” he noted, pointing out that regulation is a major limitation cited by TowerCos when it comes to using drones on their sites.

Analysing more important than Visualising

For the most part, analysing is more important than visualising; by themselves, drone images offer very little, but the ability to index, search and interpret the data is potentially game-changing. Suppliers offer varying capabilities in this regard – some are involved in simple data capture, others develop platforms to support their drones’ usage, and some even add a layer of artificial intelligence.

It’s important to choose carefully when selecting suppliers, as companies have different strengths. While the technology is rapidly becoming more sophisticated, tower owners strongly advocate for standardisation and open formats to enable wider choice and enhanced flexibility in the supply chain. It was also noted that Building Information Modelling standards are likely to become the norm in the tower infrastructure space.

For many towercos, the platforms’ immaturity and the challenge of their integration are key barriers to the introduction of digital twin technology. Most companies are currently keeping digital twin data separate from other data pools, but integration is important going forward and inevitably, operations will need to adjust their workflow to adapt to this. Complete, reliable and well-organised baseline data will be vital in fulfilling the potential offered by this technology.

Additionally, some companies cite uncertain ROI as giving them pause for thought, even as the industry has identified a number of clear use cases. This concern will likely fade as more use cases emerge. One such example is monetising the data that was initially collected for internal purposes: other operations, including those outside of the industry, may be willing to contribute to the technology’s cost in return for access to the information obtained by drones.

Smart Solutions

Delmec’s renowned infrastructure management skills enable clients to optimise value from their tower assets, and as a result the team are actively involved in utilising cutting-edge technology to bolster this key service. We will continue to explore the application of drone and digital twin technologies within our field, engaging with leading technology experts around the world to create smart solutions to our clients’ toughest challenges.

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Delmec 2020: Synergy Shapes Success for an Exciting Future in Telco

At Delmec, we understand that synergy shapes success. Ever since three Delaney brothers founded our company in 1975, we’ve worked in close partnership with engineers, manufacturers, towercos and mobile network operators all around the world. We’re proud to have enabled the development of telecommunication infrastructure in over 40 countries, helping to connect families and colleagues, customers and businesses, countries and continents.

Introducing Our New Vision & Website

As we approach half a century of operations, we’re pleased to unveil our newly refreshed brand and website, telling the story of Delmec’s remarkable journey, from our engineering heritage through to our modern global management services.

Our brand identity is conceived with our proud past and with a brave new era, for our business and the industry we serve, in mind. Our website offers access to our pioneering TiMs management system along with a wealth of easier to discover information on our full suite of customer solutions. Designed to help visitors learn more about our work in Ireland, Europe, Asia, and the African Continent.

Talented Teamwork

We know that talented teamwork is key to building and managing telecoms tower infrastructure in an evolving environment. So we’re particularly proud to introduce you to our team at Delmec, the people who are at the heart of everything we do, contributing to our global reputation for integrity and skill. We’re committed to fostering a collaborative culture, helping our people grow along with our company. We encourage professional development and tailor career paths that support our colleagues to reach their full potential. Please do sign up for our newsletter or follow us on LinkedIn to learn more about life at Delmec, industry insights and our community support initiatives.

2020 & Beyond

As we move through 2020 and beyond, we’re confident that our exceptional experience, unrivalled knowledge and proven skills will help us solve our clients’ toughest challenges, using new and innovative methods. From our origins in steel manufacturing to our current focus on new technologies such as drone software, we’ve always pushed to be at the cutting edge of our industry. We constantly adapt our technology and training to invent, design and optimise tower infrastructure to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. The future of telecom infrastructure is changing, and Delmec is poised to lead from the front.

Existing and prospective clients can get in touch any time, by reaching out to a team member across our six international locations.