These days, apps for construction truly are becoming apps for construction. Custom built for mission-critical processes on a construction project, these apps are finding their way into the workflow on the jobsite, in the office, and other areas of a construction job.
Take Box, www.box.com, Los Altos, Calif., for example. Born out of the consumer app world, Box has undergone a transformation geared at AEC (architecture, engineering, construction) professionals across the board. At its core, Box is an app tailored for the secure sharing and storing of files, which seems germane to the construction industry where project information continues to be siloed in multiple disparate programs.
Aiming directly at things like Microsoft SharePoint, Extranets, and even traditional email, Box strives to be a cost-effective alternative for such standard systems. In particular, Box OneCloud combines all mobile content into a secure cloud environment. The idea is to integrate cloud content in order to centralize project information and make it more readily available to all project stakeholders.
The company has taken another step forward in its mission to become a standard part of the construction process by partnering with Gehry Technologies, www.gehrytech.com, Los Angeles, Calif. A new integration combines Gehry Technologies’ GTeam cloud-based BIM (building information modeling) collaboration service with Box’s mobile app in order to allow users to access, manage, and share critical information like blueprints, CAD (computer-aided design) files, and contracts from the field, all in a secure manner.
The idea with this integrated effort is to allow all parties on a project to interact with BIM models directly within Box. It also will enable simultaneous workflow, allowing users to work on the same project at the same time, regardless of platform and without need to access native BIM 3D authoring tools. This is an attractive feature in that it minimizes uncertainty and variations in the workflow.
In all, this could be a significant step forward in further facilitating the BIM process. For all the value and benefits being promoted around the use of BIM, the enabling technologies continue to operate in a disparate manner, often leaving team members unsure of whether or not they are working with the latest version of a plan or model. As cloud-based storage and collaboration continue to make effective inroads into the construction process, a partnership like the one between Box and Gehry Technologies could make significant strides in overcoming this hurdle.
When apps are more than just apps, they truly becoming powerful tools to the construction process. This is the latest example of this trend developing in the industry; one that should continue to heat up throughout the course of 2013.