Tablet PCs, smartboards, mobile field plan stations, BIM (building information modeling) kiosks—mobile devices are inundating the construction industry. Are you ready?
In April 2010, Apple came to market with the iPad, and there was quite a bit of debate if the device could be a good productivity tool for the construction industry. Whether or not the iPad is your device of choice, the tablet has undoubtedly opened the door for more conversation regarding mobile devices in the construction industry. As a result, this is requiring construction companies to develop a more solid strategy for mobility.
Gone are the days where project managers or field superintendants use their personal standard cellphones to keep in contact with the home office. These days, field managers are more likely to use tablets or smartboards integrated with project-management technology to properly manage projects and keep everyone—subcontractors, owners, and colleagues—on the same page.
In particular, in recent months, construction companies have been using kiosks or smartboards to manage large files such as BIM models. These devices are also available to everyone on a project—as long as they have access to login. Tablets still serve a good purpose for safety managers or project managers to access critical project information.
With this proliferation of mobile devices, how do you go about selecting which devices and which software to use in the field? Construction companies need to get their field strategy on track.
A recent Constructech article highlights how L.P.R. Construction, www.lprconstruction.com, Loveland, Colo., will soon begin trialing the Samsung Galaxy Tab, www.galaxytab.samsungmobile.com, Seoul, South Korea, showing there are a number of devices to consider in the construction industry today.
Another good example is Skanska USA Building, www.skanska.com, Stockholm, Sweden. The company uses iPads, tablet PCs, smartboards, mobile field plans stations, and barcoding on one particular project in Raleigh, N.C. The technology is integrated into standard jobsite and field operations throughout the lifecycle of the project for estimating, quality assurance, commissioning of systems and equipment, punchlisting, scheduling and material tracking, and supply-chain management for a unitized curtainwall.
While the company is using a number of devices in the field, Skanska has a solid strategy for how these devices are used for the various different processes throughout the lifecycle of the project.
One of the most important items when it comes to mobility is developing a strategy. While there are a lot of different devices to consider—many with very unique bells and whistles—productivity improvements ultimately come down to creating a plan for how the different innovative devices will be used on the project.
Will Senner, senior project engineer, Skanska USA Building, will present further discussion about the use of innovative technologies in the construction of the James B. Hunt Jr. Library project in Raleigh, N.C., at the upcoming Technology Day Conference in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., on September 14.