The future is here, and it’s all about mobility. For the construction industry, like many others, mobility’s dramatic rise is causing shifts in traditional approaches to business. According to a study by IDG Enterprise, the top factors driving investments in mobile technology include improving internal communication, ensuring customer satisfaction and retention, and increasing the speed of decision-making. As innovations in mobile tech continue at this pace, the competitiveness of companies will increasingly be defined by their responsiveness to these new technologies.
This is certainly the case in the construction industry and our work here at South Bay Construction in the heart of Silicon Valley. Construction companies are now investing in technology in both the field and the office to gain an edge—but where should their focus be when it comes to automated construction sites? It starts with mobile technology. Here are some of the biggest ways we see it transforming construction today:
IMPROVED TEAM COMMUNICATION
In construction, misunderstandings between the field and office, or the team and key stakeholders, can have costly consequences. Ineffective communication tools can result in expensive change orders, overruns in labor time, and more. Mobile technology is now helping to close the communication gaps caused by the industry’s typical team fragmentation.
Tablets allow teams to simultaneously review a 3D BIM model of a job site while collaborating on next steps, whether that’s via phone or in-app messaging services. And there are apps like PlanGrid which has a collaborative platform for teams to manage construction docs, such as drawing markups, RFI’s, punch lists, etc. Another popular mobile app in the construction industry is Raken, which allows field superintendents to produce daily construction activity logs with their cell phone or tablet. If teams can collaboratively make decisions in real-time, they are able to achieve clear consensus and avoid the problems that often come with displaced team set-ups.
For most construction companies, it’s a challenge to accurately capture the time logged by staff and equipment. When it used to be done on paper, there were plenty of chances for inaccuracies due to human error: lost paper trails, forgotten hours, employee oversight and miscalculations. Through mobile apps, time recording has become a much simpler process that minimizes employee efforts while saving costs through increased accuracy.
With tablet in hand, job foremen can now quickly plug in staff and equipment hours as they happen with apps like Clockshark. It allows employees to easily clock in and out on their phones and uses GPS to track staff locations, so you can see which employees are in the field at any time.
Big data is having a big impact on the way all businesses operate and strategize, including construction. It’s the new generation of big data technology that’s allowing businesses to see the benefits of real-time insights. Rather than waiting days or weeks for insights, these tools are making it possible for construction teams to make instant decisions that can help projects save huge on both time and budget.
Assessment software from 4tell Solutions, for example, makes this process simple. It takes all the data you collect during assessments and keeps it in a central database. Then, it can produce on-demand reports and analytics for meetings and presentations.
From the field to the office, new technologies are dramatically shifting the way construction teams do business. Traditionally challenged by the fragmented nature of construction operations, industry players are now enjoying greater efficiencies in communication, data collection (and analysis), and decision making. Like businesses everywhere, the future of construction is mobile.