The move to a more digital platform for managing construction sites is one that many companies haven’t yet made. For many – the fear of changing a successful formula is out weighed by the benefits of moving into the digital age. Unfortunately for the construction industry – my generation – the mellenials are here to stay, and as a result we are keeping our fancy phones and devices on us during working hours.
The construction industry is changing and new technologies are being introduced every day. Some of these technologies may be a waste of time, while others may improve productivity. It wasn’t until I took over a project recently and implemented a punch list tracking software that I really saw a tangible benefit to these types of improvements.
Below I’ve highlighted some of the major categories of new construction technology, why I feel these benefit or don’t benefit a company and some examples of each.
This is one of the older and more widely accepted technology tools. Used throughout the industry as a way of managing the RFI, Submittal and other workflow related processes there are many companies offering these types of platforms. This should be a starting point for any company looking to move out of the dark ages, information flow is such a critical part of any job, and having something to manage much of it for you is important. Most of these types of software are managed online and allow uploading and downloading of documents, creation of RFI’s (issue management) and a submittal module which sends out notifications and allows for collaborative reviews.
- Allows for the creation of a central document system ensuring all parties are on the same page and information is tracked properly.
- Can allow for collaborative drawing reviews.
- Track issues and automatically generate notifications.
- Results in a huge time savings for the company as a result of automated work flows and notifications. Ensures that information is accurate (ie not ten different versions of timesheets).
Some examples of this type of software include:
Cloud Based File Sharing
Cloud based file sharing technology has been in the consumer market for a number of years now and is only recently making its way into our industry. Personally, I live and die by this and it has made my clients jealous of how quickly and easily I can access information anywhere.
Some examples of this software that you may instantly recognize include Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive and Apple’s own iCloud.
Essentially what these services do is provide a mechanism to sync files between your different devices. For example – all of my files sync through box to my desktop and are then immediately available on all of my devices through apps.
For single users or small firms this software can be relatively inexpensive and storage upgrades won’t break the bank.
- Allow users to remotely access drawings and documents on any device (for firms with a lot of remote work this is a great way to collaborate)
- Instantly keep all of the most up to date information in one spot for users, mark up drawings and have it refelected on the files.
- Users can use any device to access information from phones, to tablets, to desktop computers.
- Saves a lot of time running back and forth between the drawing board and site to review drawings. Pull them up at the location and review instantly.
Punch List Tracking Technology
Punch List tracking technology and software is something I’ve begun experimenting with recently. I will start by admitting I am no expert on the subject, but, in my my experiences with it to date the benefit provided has been significant.
In previous lives during inspections deficiencies would be logged in a spreadsheet or word document or some other form of manual entry program.The trades and consultants would need to be manually notified of issues and the working document had to be kept up to date. Deficiencies were also vague, pictures that provide specifics were difficult to keep in line with deficiencies.
Apps or software that assist with this process help to do away with a lot of the manual data manipulation. Take a photo in location, pin it on a drawing, assign it to a trade and have everyone notified via email automatically. This may seem like it saves minimal time, but when you repeat this process hundreds or thousands of times the time adds up. What makes these systems even better – if your trades and consultants are on the same system they are able to login and assign deficiencies or reassign them as they are completed.
- Speaking from personal experience these systems can save up to 50% of time compared to traditional systems.
- All issues are kept on a central server that keeps all comments synchronized so you don’t end up with five versions of ‘the list’.
- Automates notifications and reporting requirements speeding up the time between when an issue is identified and when the corresponding party finds out.
Some examples of this type of software can include