Smart & IoT
Towards Operational Excellence and Smart Site Management
Access management is a critical process for neutral infrastructure operators such as Cellnex, dealing with several challenges. Based on the dimension of our portfolio (135,000 sites including forecast roll-outs up to 2030), it surely is not a surprise to reveal that hundreds of thousands of accesses per year are registered in Cellnex sites.
The traditional approach has been to use some sort of mechanical access system (such as physical keys), but this has a series of disadvantages: the frequent loss of keys impacts in the efficiency of the whole process and results in unnecessary trips and interactions with customers, landlords and technicians; it is difficult to individually do the end-to-end tracing and control of each one of the accesses to the premises; the potential unwanted accesses could have a direct impact in the security of the sites and might also impact in the health and safety legal obligations. On top of that, a very common problem that arises in the sector is the lack of uniformity in the whole access procedure due to different site scenarios.
The diagnosis was clear and it was decided that some action needed to be taken so it was opted to move a step forward and looked for a Smart Access solution. Based on Cellnex expertise and market prospection, it was decided that migrating to Smart meant to acquire a keyless solution which allowed us to completely digitize the events triggered by the accesses to the premises. This way both the issue of the traceability and the problems associated with the loss of keys could be solved, and at the same time the window of opportunity to rethink and reengineer the whole access procedure could be opened, gaining efficiency and homogeneity and avoiding manual interactions as much as possible.
Some of the criteria that were taken into consideration to choose the most suitable partner were:
- Very high security standards allowing almost real-time access control, bad practices detection, etc.
- Easy-to-use user management systems, fast, flexible and robust
- Production flexibility to adapt to Cellnex deployment needs
- Strong aftermarket support to accompany in the whole migration process
- Centralized management, but with local action support
- Ease of installation
- A strong and competitive price offer
- Minimum associated maintenance costs
The chosen partner is a keyless solutions and the access involves in one way or another the usage of a smartphone (or equivalent portable device) with digital keys sent to the technician’s mobile app running on the phone. The mobile keys contain access rights which are managed remotely and in real time. These rights can be updated and cancelled as needs change to ensure that only the right people have access to the right places at the right time. Administration of several sites is conveniently consolidated into cloud-based software platforms, which ensures a 24/7 monitoring capability.
Cellnex is now in the middle of the deployment phase, installing the necessary devices in the 12-countries portfolio. The Smart Access solution is feasible to install (at least in a first batch) in most of Cellnex sites; and from this initial set of sites, around 43% of them have already been migrated. The plan is to complete the deployment in 2-3 years.
In parallel, Cellnex is deploying its own Operation Support System (OSS). One module inside this OSS Tool manages the Access Requests. Customers create these SAR (Site Access Requests) by filling in the necessary information: who wants to access, where and when; and what are they going to do. If the adequate conditions are met, the SAR is automatically approved; if not, some human interaction is needed to manually grant the access, having previously done a series of tasks.
By means of an API between our OSS and the Smart Access platform, basic information needed to grant the rights to the technicians to the selected locks (for a concrete timeframe) is sent. This way the whole process is, in some cases, completely automated, substantially reducing the response to customer petitions and therefore helping to achieve much more easily the contractual agreements (SLAs) and improving the overall service. Technical staff in Operations is constantly supervising the whole process by means of Dashboards and key indicators (KPIs) generated by capturing the access events so that abnormal behaviors, sites where the activity is above average or locks potentially left opened can be easily identified.
Cellnex is achieving with this Smart Access project an easier, faster and reliable way to manage access to sites. A mutual beneficial situation has been created, since Cellnex customers are taking advantage from the automation and quick response that this type of solution offers, and at the same time Cellnex, as infrastructure operator, has gained the ability to better control what is going on in their premises.
From business point of view, having an own model for managing access to infrastructure is critical to gain efficiency in operating the assets due to the fact that it is a very user intensive process. On the other hand, in this process of transformation to Smart is key to be accompanied with strong and proper partners and to choose an innovative and state of the art solution that helps to achieve the initial goal of automation and cost reduction.
Global Technical Operations at Cellnex