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7 Reasons Why Mobility is Mandatory on An Active Construction Site

Posted by Dan Dolinar on Wed, Apr 03, 2013 @ 08:04 AM
Dan Dolinar
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Stop and take a look at the world around you.  It is easy to find people pausing to check their smart phone or mobile device for email or conducting business out of the office. Mobile devices and productivity applications are greatly transforming today’s modern business environment. Located in Redwood City, Rudolph and Sletten is in a hotbed of technological innovation and we’ve witnessed increased demand for project information that is needed anytime, anyplace.  From construction executives to field personnel, the need for real time project reporting is rapidly becoming an industry standard. 

The BuildTechnocrats

This story begins with the BuildTechnocrats, design and building professionals who have a taste for tech.  While most of us are still waking up in the morning, they are caffeinated and tapping into some of the most exciting building experiences in the industry.  This post aims to share their experiences and deliver their insights.

Our team of BuildTechnocrats includes Lee Harrison, senior project manager, Kelly Terry, project manager, and Justin Vorhees, project engineer.  They are builders in the field who are actively using mobile devices and productivity applications. For the past two years, they’ve observed the increased adoption of new construction technologies among superintendents, foremen, MEP coordinators and subcontractors. These folks are choosing to access data with tablets, like the iPad, in combination with productivity applications that make building information access much more mobile and efficient. Adoption of these technologies goes beyond exceeding client’s expectations; it is quickly becoming a required practice. 

iPads on Active Construction Site

Collectively, our team made some interesting observations at their jobsite that nears completion. Based upon their findings, they gave 7 compelling reasons why mobility is mandatory on an active construction site.

(1.) Teams have ready access to company data wirelessly.

With MiFi or My WiFi or WiFi hotspots and a tablet or iPad, anyone can connect with a mobile phone for Internet access. This access allows field professionals to easily access a range of data pertinent to their active construction site.

(2.) Teams experience enhanced levels of collaboration.

Using file-sharing applications, like Box or Dropbox, the project team can access construction documents to their hearts content including floor plans, site plans, and purchase orders via tablet.  With this data at their fingertips, builders and tradespeople have the ability to simultaneously collaborate in face-to-face project team meetings via iPad using Skype, JoinMe, GoToMeeting, or Apple’s proprietary Facetime application.

(3.) Teams can continuously be on the move or mobile. 

Before the iPad, when a field professional needed further clarification, they had to leave the construction site, walk to the jobsite trailer, reference the construction drawings, hike back out to the construction site, eyeball the problem to verify the discrepancy, pencil in notes in their notebook, hike back to the jobsite trailer, scan the plan, log on to their computer, launch their email, send the scan to the architect, review the issue over the phone as both parties looked at the sketch, agree on a solution, finalize the documentation, electronically distribute the updated documentation to the impacted parties offices, and then walk back to the construction site to give hardcopies to the field personnel implementing the change. For visual reference, please see our rough illustration below.

Wow! That was tiring! 

Today, a construction professional that has an iPad can access the drawing with a productivity application, tag and make a note of the issue in question, and send the note via email.  Today, field personnel can stay on the move and in the field.

Clarification Process Before and After Mobile Devices

(4.) Teams can easily view the most recent project drawings.

Viewing a drawing via mobile device offers more clarity than referencing a black and white drawing.  The construction professional is able to view the most up-to-date drawings in layered detail by color.  The tablet user also has the ability to easily zoom in and out. A magnifying glass is not longer needed to view the fine details. Bye bye good old days!

(5.) Teams can easily identify the latest drawing changes and add mark-ups.

Field personnel can access the drawings and identify overlay changes in the drawings.  In addition, they have the ability to add mark-ups and cross-reference drawings with a link as opposed to flipping through the entire set of drawings. 

(6.) Tablets enable eased inspector job-site walk-throughs. 

Conducting inspector walk-throughs is now a breeze.  Armed with a tablet, a construction professional can easily snap a photo of any problematic area, make a notation, and email the notation with a copy of the project plans to the appropriate parties instantaneously.

(7.) Tablets provide project reporting for construction executives on-the-move. 

Busy executives are using tablets to stay informed about the status of their projects. With enterprise solutions and an iPad in hand, construction executives can easily access project status reports, review project costs and make sure the project is on budget, and identify whether the project is on schedule.

A mobile device that contains an arsenal of productivity applications is a not just a tool but a window that allows us to see into the future of the built world. We are embarking on a new era of construction. In the spirit of technology and innovation, it essential to connect and exchange ideas on how these tools can be used to better serve our clients, enhance team collaboration, enable project efficiencies, and build structures that will be celebrated for generations to come. 

We hope you will share your ideas as we begin this exciting new journey.

Topics: Mobile Devices, Business, Gear + Apps, Construction Technology