Appalachian Pipeline Contractors depends on fast, reliable internet
Based in Tennessee, Appalachian Pipeline Contractors takes on construction jobs all over the U.S., with projects that are rarely the same. But before the digging starts, the team at Appalachian Pipeline Contractors has to organize and set up a temporary base of operations at the construction site to handle the administrative details that come with every project.
“These projects stretch for miles, and they happen fast,” said Joshua Wyatt, Project Manager at Appalachian Pipeline Contractors. “It’s not uncommon for us to be awarded a project and need to set up a large office to handle hundreds of employees and set it up in two weeks. Everything from internet to mail to fuel, all those things need to come together quickly and can be a struggle when we set up projects.
“Historically, when we set up a project, the first priorities are power and internet because those are the two things you have to have. We can use generators for power, so that’s something we can usually overcome. But internet in the past has been a big issue.”
Getting a pipeline job site up and running quickly
With projects sited nearly anywhere in the U.S., remote communications between a worksite and Appalachian Pipeline Contractors’ home base in Tennessee are crucial. So, accessing reliable internet is the first of many challenges for a project manager like Wyatt to overcome.
“When you have 200 guys coming to sign up for work and you can’t do any of it without internet, it is problematic,” Wyatt said. “We’ve worked out of hotel rooms a lot in the past just to get started until we get internet set up.”
Onboarding a crew of that size involves a significant amount of documentation, all of which needs to be quickly registered at the home office in Tennessee. But transmitting digital employment files with slow or unreliable connectivity can stall the onboarding process considerably.
As the company’s HR Payroll Manager, Sherry Dorris was charged with finding a connectivity solution that could make it easier for the team in the field to coordinate with the home office.
“It was my job to find the quickest and fastest internet for the guys in the field,” Dorris said. “Some companies couldn’t install it, or they wanted us to spend an outrageous amount to install it, and then sign a contract for a year or two when we were only going to be there for three months.”
Even getting a timely internet install scheduled also proved to be a challenge.
“Scheduling was always an issue,” Wyatt said. “You would call the internet service to get a hardline put in, and they would say, ‘Sure, we’ll be out there in 8 weeks.’ But when we’re hiring 200 people on Monday, we can’t always afford to wait that long. Usually, we can’t ever afford to wait that long.”
The team in the field also demands reliable connectivity for sharing digital files such as work orders and construction plans from a customer. Sending hard copies of those files takes up valuable time and can slow a project to a crawl.
“We do massive amounts of data transfer between the office and our office in the field,” Wyatt said. “When we’re signing people up for work, almost every bit of that is scanned and sent back to the office for onboarding. So, it’s extremely critical that we have good internet access.
“Also, the gas companies we work for don’t hardly ever send hard copies of drawings or anything, so everything from our design drawings for the projects to our scheduling and everything we do for our projects has to come through the internet. So, if we don’t have internet, we’re not able to do hardly anything.”
For Wyatt, solving connectivity issues on the job site became a big issue. Whether it was retreating to a hotel room for internet or finding a place where he could park his truck to communicate with a cellular signal strong enough to transmit texts or email, he said he was constantly having to leave the worksite to get reasonably good connectivity.
Searching for a way to overcome the challenges that poor remote connectivity presented, the decision makers at Appalachian Pipeline Contractors consulted with Verizon.
It was my job to find the quickest and fastest internet for the guys in the field.”
Sherry Dorris, HR Payroll Manager, Appalachian Pipeline Contractors
Mobile connectivity arrives on the job site
Dorris knew she needed to find a connectivity solution that was not only mobile but also had the coverage to reach some of the more remote places where Appalachian Pipeline Contractors crews work. She found what she was looking for with LTE Business Internet from Verizon.
LTE Business Internet offers connectivity on Verizon’s 4G LTE network, providing fast, flexible and reliable service that works right out of the box.
Working with a Verizon representative, Dorris found a wireless internet plan that served the company’s purposes and fit its budget. She also ordered LTE Business Internet plans with Verizon’s compatible wireless routers to service the home office near Nashville as well as remote operations in the field.
“I can either go out and plug these boxes in or send them with Josh or whoever and they have virtually immediate connectivity,” she said. “We have them set up where all they have to do is plug and play and they’re ready to start working. It’s been really great to be fast and furious and get up and running immediately. And stay connected. That’s the other thing. We’ve not had connection problems with these.”
The mobility and flexibility of LTE Business Internet not only comes into play by seamlessly establishing connectivity in a job site office trailer. For Appalachian Pipeline Contractors, it becomes a huge advantage when a pipeline job stretches over 50 miles or more.
“If we get out on a project that is so large we can’t drive there within an hour, we will move the job office sometimes,” Wyatt said. “It’s a huge time-saver to be able to plug and play the box and be working with it in minutes.”
Convinced that LTE Business Internet was the solution her team was looking for, Dorris led the company’s decision to lean on Verizon’s wireless network for their business phone lines. Appalachian Pipeline Contractors now uses Verizon One Talk, a reliable cloud-based business phone system that caters to the company’s needs for mobility.
The home office features wireless desktop phones from Verizon that work via Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and several employees rely on the One Talk app on their phones to take business calls on the go.
“No matter where our administrative assistant is or where I am, we can pick up our cell phone and take a business call,” Dorris said. “If the phone is ringing early in the morning and the guys are on the job site, I can pick it up at home and take care of it.”
It’s a huge time-saver to be able to plug and play the box and be working with it in minutes.”
Joshua Wyatt, Project Manager, Appalachian Pipeline Contractors
Pipeline projects are up, running and completed quickly with fast, reliable internet
Now that they’re up and running with LTE Business Internet from Verizon, the team at Appalachian Pipeline Contractors is operating with improved efficiency, and has helped improve several key factors, including:
Speed of project launch
Wyatt and other managers are able to get projects started without having to wait for a hardline internet installation. Once an office trailer is placed and powered up at the worksite, they can access fast, reliable LTE Business Internet by plugging in their compatible router.
Managers can assemble a team of pipeline construction workers quickly, with all the related hiring paperwork easier to process, scan and transmit back to the main office for filing.
Fast, reliable file sharing
Managers no longer need to wait for printed out construction plans from their clients to arrive via mail or messenger. Large files can be sent reliably to the Appalachian Pipeline Contractors team and can be printed on the receiving end.
“It definitely cut down our package delivery bill,” Dorris said.
As linear pipeline projects advance, the manager in the field is able to move the office trailer without needing to worry about a hardline reinstallation. The wireless router unplugs, travels with the trailer and is ready for use as soon as the trailer is repositioned and powered.
Also, by using the VoIP-enabled One Talk phone system and the One Talk app, team members at Appalachian Pipeline Contractors have access to their business calls wherever they are, whether in the office, at home or in the field.
“It’s nice to be unchained from my desk,” Dorris said. “It’s definitely a relief since we changed.”
Continuing a trend, the main office for Appalachian Pipeline Contractors is working less and less with hardcopy paperwork and more frequently with digital files that are easy to share and backup.
“The company has been in business since 2003, and we have so much paper here,” Dorris said. “Now, 90 percent of what we do is scanned and we’re finally getting rid of paper. Our timesheets come in scanned, our new-hire packages are in the cloud, and any forms that we share back and forth are either emailed or in the cloud.”
Wyatt said the transition to LTE Business Internet has been seamless, and Dorris said having fast, reliable internet “has made both of our lives so much easier. It’s been great.”
“It’s increased our productivity on the job sites exponentially and really allowed us to focus on more important issues,” Wyatt said. “We have so much going on with these jobs, the last thing you want to be messing with is computer or internet issues. So, having the ability to have reliable service is very valuable.”
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LTE Business Internet is available within the U.S. on Verizon’s 4G LTE network. Compatible LTE-enabled router required (Verizon-provided or customer-provided). Terms apply.