Small Business Insights: Mobile Technology Becoming a Foundation in the Construction Industry

Q & A with Paul Bedard, director of Global Enterprise Data Solutions, Verizon Wireless.

By on October 3, 2012

Mobile technology impacts the way the construction industry manages on- and off-site projects. By streamlining projects and processes, mobile devices and advanced wireless networks have improved efficiency and productivity at the job site and in the back office.

In this installment of our small business interview series, I sat down with Paul Bedard, and he discussed the impact of mobile technology on the construction industry, along with some interesting innovations that project managers are utilizing.

How is today’s mobile technology influencing the way small construction firms do business?

It’s amazing what you can do in just one day today versus only a short time ago.

We’ve seen a big change in how small construction firms do business, starting with the way they can impact security and safety. Specifically, wireless technology has enabled the rapid deployment of remote video surveillance and streamlined the site inspection process. This allows a company to effectively track assets and cut down on the loss of valuable and expensive equipment.  

Advanced mobile networks also offer immediate and effective connectivity at a work site. This is important because in the past, setting up a trailer and wireline communication could take up to six weeks, costing the company time and money. Adopting 4G LTE networks, which have wireline performance characteristics, allows construction firms to have that trailer or mobile office up and running in day one.

What are other benefits of employing wireless technology in this industry?

Fleet management, employee dispatch, project management and asset tracking are also where we see immediate and measurable benefits. Adopting mobile collaborations tools measurably improves the quality, safety and profitability of projects along with the ability to interact with multiple partners in real-time. We can do this through video calling and picture messaging. We also enable off-site professionals to see, identify and resolve an issue remotely which, of course, saves time. 

What other risks can smaller firms face when they aren’t able to communicate effectively?

A poorly run job site can result in repeated project delays and work stoppages.

It does not matter where they work, with any construction job, builders must ensure that work is compliant with all codes and regulations. By not adhering to these codes, they can experience delays in the release of permits that could ultimately hold up the project.

Having an established wireless plan in place from day-one provides project managers with the collaboration and communication tools they need to ensure they have up to code requirements, and keep their project on track.

Innovation is driving and redefining the way businesses interact and work with data/analytics and product development. What new technologies can construction firms benefit from right now?

In the Verizon Wireless Innovation Center, we are developing technologies that solve many of the issues construction firms of all sizes encounter on the job. Our Innovation Center has worked with other companies to develop the Ericsson Converged Workspace and Mobile Broadband Router, two tools managers can deploy to assist with setting up an office or trailer on site. This space is critical because it establishes communication and proper project management.

When supervising shipments in transport, another innovation is the TeleNav Asset Tracker, which monitors materials and equipment, helping small construction companies oversee logistics and help reduce theft.

From mobile worker dispatch tools to Internet-connected cameras, there are numerous mobile technologies available to help construction firms work more efficiently.  

Coming up: In Part 2 of this post, Paul will discuss some of the developing trends in the industry, how to pick the right mobile technologies and what advice he has to offer to small construction firms.