As times goes on, more organizations both inside and outside the construction industry are recognizing the benefits connected technology can offer the business world. Regardless of what market a business covers, a project’s entire lifecycle can likely be impacted by the added knowledge, convenience, and efficiency technology can bring to day-to-day operations.
Naturally, construction is no exception. One solution in particular that may stand to benefit construction companies is a corporate app store, which can offer workers valuable tools in the field. One such solution looking to avail itself to construction companies is MobiCloud, a project supported by the European Commission, which aims to develop a European corporate app store accessible via connected devices, which can connect to corporate systems via the cloud. The project was developed by a consortium which includes such companies as Appear Networks,www.appearnetworks.com, Kista, Sweden, and Costain Group, www.costain.com, Maidenhead, England.
Martin Wilson, vice president of sales and marketing, Appear Networks, recently spoke out on the subject of app stores in construction via a webinar hosted by Fiatech, www.fiatech.org, Austin, Texas. Wilson notes construction-specific apps could be used to support different project processes, ensure compliance with site procedures, and manage incident reports, among other tasks. But in order to deploy and make use of a construction app store, Wilson says a variety of needs must be met in order to make the most effective and efficient use of the resource. In a sense, this basically means change is necessary.
“To deliver this corporate app store, there’s a need for an infrastructure,” Wilson says. “There are two layers within that infrastructure. First, there is the technology, the platforms, and the SDK (software development kit). There are also the processes that need to change to support that infrastructure.”
To this end, Wilson encourages organizations looking to adopt mobility strategies to:
- Avoid “working in silos” to prevent duplicate work.
- Ensure a robust and cost-effective technology integration with legacy systems, through the use of a rich SDK.
- Reuse existing code base when possible, to perhaps create ready-made templates.
- Be agile and flexible in the development process, and involve the end-users as early as possible.
Wilson also cites the importance of using this technology in the appropriate context, taking advantage of the flexible nature of cloud computing, and being able to use the technology across multiple platforms.
Fittingly, Costain Group has made use of a construction app developed by MobiCloud in an attempt to resolve some of its own issues. The global engineering provider had been making use of inefficient practices, which led to longer days, an abundance of paperwork, their engineers and supervisors spending too much time on site, among other problems.
To rectify the situation, the company began using Site Diary, a mobile solution hosted on an iPad. Site Diary allowed all of the company’s data to be synced into a single program, providing a simple way for workers to record changes in realtime and review information, with the option of attaching pictures to provide context. This in turn allowed workers to gain a better understanding of the events reported, track costs, and even monitor weather data over the course of a day.
While the implementation of connected technology into a construction company’s day-to-day operations may take a bit of extra time and effort, Costain Group serves as proof that the ends may in fact justify the means.