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Are Your Construction Projects as Mobile as You Are?


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If you are managing a single construction project, or a few at the same time, you are definitely not in one place for long. Because increasing workloads and change are the nature of construction, for any construction business owner, construction manager, or superintendent, being on the move is a job requirement, not a luxury. 

Digitization processes are transforming the industry. The days of pen and paper are giving way to digital documents and tools. That process has sped up during the last five years as mobile devices evolved alongside cloud computing. Construction’s future is one where everything is online, available in realtime, and accessible anywhere. As that reality takes shape, construction processes and projects are on track to have more transparency, better collaboration, better progress and risk assessment, greater quality control, and more predictable outcomes. Mobile is the next step in construction’s digital transformation, and while you may be mobile, it does you little good if your projects are not.

Mobility’s Promises

There are few construction processes that wouldn’t benefit from mobile tools. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other mobile devices are the gateways to the data and information which is migrating to the cloud. 

Smart construction businesses are seizing the opportunity and making project information readily available no matter where the workforce is located. Blueprints and design drawings are far less effective when sequestered in a job trailer than they are in the hands of those who need them to build the next component of the project. Equipment logs, daily progress reports, and punch lists are most effective when they are available to the person who needs them, when they need them, and in real time.

Paper-based processes aren’t very mobile and don't make it easy for you to capture and analyze data. This limits your ability to get out in front of risks. Paper trails often get lost and mismanaged, leading to disputes among project participants. Paper-based processes also happen at a much slower pace than digital ones. So, if you want to stay competitive, you need to go digital and mobile. But simply carrying around a smartphone isn't enough. 

Your construction projects need to use mobile as much as you. Here are 4 places to focus for quick returns on your investments. 

1. Invest in Mobile Connectivity

There are many instances where your construction project enjoys instant Internet connectivity through the cellular network. However, because construction often happens in places where cellular coverage is spotty or even nonexistent, investments in reliable Internet connections can have big pay offs. Some of the options include satellite, DSL over existing phone lines, fixed wireless broadband, cellular boosters, and mobile WiFi hotspots. Especially during the discovery and start up phases of a project, when utilities are not yet at the site, having a technology available that you can deploy so Internet connectivity is assured can greatly improve communication and collaboration during these early stages. Bonuses to having a readily deployable Internet connection are that you are cushioned against outages and you have an alternate Internet connection during and after emergency situations.

2. Invest in Always-On Project Management

Today, your project management system needs to be as mobile as possible. Your system handles not only all your day to day project management needs, but also provides the data and information critical to your accounting and back office functions. When you use a cloud-based project management system, you bring the transformative advantages of the digital age to your construction activities. Invest wisely by looking for these features:

  • The solution allows offers an unlimited number of project participants for a set fee

  • You can scale the solution according to your needs

  • The solution seamlessly incorporates mobile devices and mobile functions

For more helpful information in selecting a project management solution, check out this buyer’s guide

Whether you need communication, collaboration, drawing management, daily logs, or all project functions, having them in a cloud-based solution brings the best of mobile advantages to your operations.

3. Invest in the Right Devices

Each person's function on a construction project has different mobile device requirements to get the most value from the advantages of mobility. Your project manager and superintendent no doubt need multiple devices, while your lead carpenter might only need a tablet. Your office personnel who visit the site only occasionally perhaps only need a smartphone. By matching the device to the job requirements, you avoid the expense of buying, maintaining, and replacing multiple devices that aren't essential. You also avoid the security challenges of ensuring business and personal data don’t commingle, business data doesn’t get compromised, and privacy and compliance requirements are manageable. 

4. Explore New Technology

If there's anything true about technology it's that it is going to change and evolve. Not every new technology is going to be for you, and not every new technology is going to come along at the right time to be valuable to your business. But, when you have an open mind to the possibilities of new mobile technologies, you create a business atmosphere where people are not afraid to look into new tech that could benefit your company. Consider the possibilities with these new and emerging mobile technologies:

  • Virtual reality

  • Augmented reality

  • Drones

  • Photogrammetry

  • LIDAR (light detection and ranging) 

  • 5D BIM where design, budget and schedule coincide

  • Sensors for equipment and inventory management 

The world will need $57 trillion in repair and new development for infrastructure alone by 2030 to keep up with worldwide GDP growth. For nonresidential construction they say the savings due to  digitization could equal anywhere from 13% and 21% during the design phases, and another 10% to 17% during construction. Since mobile is the next phase of digitization, it’s time for your projects to become just as mobile as you are.

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