Small Business Insights: Q&A on Mobility in Construction (Part 2)

Finding the right connectivity tools to use on the job site.

By on October 4, 2012

Continuing my conversation with Paul Bedard, director of Global Enterprise Data Solutions, we discuss choosing the right devices and apps, as well as the importance of 4G LTE connectivity on a job site.

Part 1 of this interview is available here.

What should construction companies consider when choosing a wireless device?

As always, consideration must be given to devices that are well-suited for use in construction, in the field, on the job site and at the point-of-construction.  Using ruggedized devices – or consumer-grade tablets with rugged enclosures like the OtterBox Defender - is important in rough environments, like construction work sites. Screen size is rising in importance as viewing building plans on mobile devices is now common practice. Of course stellar network capabilities and ensuring that a device is 4G LTE-enabled also plays a key role in the decision-making process.

Picking a 4G LTE-enabled device allows tasks that were typically confined to the trailer to be mobilized and put to work in the field. With the capabilities and speeds offered by 4G LTE, project managers and field workers can handle the data-intensive apps and programs, and share data-rich files – such as architectural plans – from the site, trailer or remote office.

What types of mobile apps would be most useful for managing projects while construction managers are on site?
 
There are several apps for real-time video, allowing architects, engineers and others to collaborate. Apps like FuzeMeeting or ooVoo are two examples. Construction Punch List helps users develop a report of issues for a specific project, and Vela Systems offers a tablet-based mobile project management platform that allows mobile access to plans and drawings on the jobsite and provides critical field updates to the owner and others about field changes, field reports, nonconformance and punchlists. Construction companies can easily monitor and manage the delivery and transport of materials with advanced solutions like Field Force Manager, which allows them to map the best route for a trip and prevents costly work delays.

What is one piece of advice for small construction firms looking for the most efficient and effective way to use these tools?

It’s vital to know where the backlogs and communication gaps are occurring during a project. Ultimately, significant project decisions are held up by minor bottlenecks. Construction firms should always explore new technologies to help remote team members collaborate more effectively. Anything that speeds up collaboration speeds up productivity at the work site. Remember, the goal is to build that building.