By Kyle Yencer
Along with unprecedented challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the construction industry also saw an unexpected silver lining: the acceleration of collaborative technology on the jobsite. Before 2020, construction was the second least digitized industry in the world, second only to agriculture. The pandemic pushed construction professionals to adopt cloud-based project management and other technologies to drive collaboration and productivity. A recent survey of 250 middle managers and above discovered that 66% of construction companies deployed some form of new technology in response to the pandemic, with 94% reporting improved workflows. A key factor behind these improvements? Mobility.
Mobility drives collaboration by disseminating updates and mission-critical information in real time, making data that once took weeks or months to pull from the field or office locations instantly available. Once limited to smartphones and laptops, mobility in the construction industry now includes tables, drones, wearables, cloud-based solutions, and more. How is mobility building collaboration and increasing efficiency in construction? Read on to find out.
IMPROVED VISIBILITY AND CONTROL
What progress was made on site today? Does the staffing schedule align with project timeline and goals? What materials are running low? Mobile solutions provide the ability to view this information in real time, mitigating the risk of unnecessary project delays. This improved visibility is also applicable when monitoring equipment status. From major repairs to general wear and tear, equipment is one of the most valuable investments for construction businesses. Having the insight into a problem before it worsens can save time and money.
INCREASED SITE SECURITY
Unattended construction equipment and other materials such as copper wire are susceptible to theft, especially in remote or poorly lit locations. Combining GPS with other mobile technologies, operations teams can monitor for and prevent security breaches with customized alerts. If materials are removed from a jobsite illegally, they can be located and recovered via mobile tracking technologies.
Mobile solutions also help to maintain the integrity of company devices and data by continuously monitoring for security breaches and settings changes that can open the door to vulnerabilities. IT managers can automate important upgrades and remove applications that compromise security or employee focus and productivity. In scenarios where employees are using personal devices, mobile solutions can be deployed to safeguard company data and IT infrastructure.
SAVE AND TRANSFER
In addition to security concerns, remote jobsites located in areas with limited Wi-Fi or cellular coverage can make collaborative communication a challenge. With mobility, contractors have the option to save and transfer important project information via a mobile application once they return to a connected area, ensuring the latest updates are correct.
Deploying mobile solutions helps firms automate workflows, enabling faster execution of business processes, including change orders. Cloud-based solutions streamline the process, limiting idle time spent on site while waiting for approvals. Teams are notified of change order approvals, as well as consequential tasks and schedule changes in real time through their mobile devices. This boosts productivity, eliminating the burdensome and clunky manual methods to send requests and receive confirmation from management. Teams can leverage constant updates on progress, challenges, and business operations, empowering faster and smarter decision making.
Mobile solutions also cut down on paperwork and other reporting that can cause bottlenecks. Workers can clock in and out on their devices each day, transmitting that information directly to the office and making it easier to record and track hours.
Execution of a project begins the moment a contract is signed and ends as final payments are received. The time and work between those moments require minute-by-minute monitoring, especially when managing a budget approved by the client beforehand. Budgets often suffer due to waiting times and miscommunication caused by inefficient applications, but with cloud-based solutions, stakeholders can monitor budgets and communicate with their teams in real time.
Disruption and technology are changing the way the workforce comes together around business initiatives. If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it’s that today’s construction site needs to be agile, and most importantly, connected. With multiple stakeholders working against competing deadlines and priorities, even the slightest miscommunication can yield costly delays. Mobile solutions increase efficiency, accuracy, and collaboration on the jobsite, allowing firms to remain competitive while maximizing productivity and the bottom line.
About The Author
Kyle Yencer is the vice president of services and connected workforce at MicroAge, an award-winning managed service provider. For more on MicroAge, visit www.microage.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, May 2021
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