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MOBILE GOES MAINSTREAM

Close to 80 percent of U.S. adults are now using smartphones, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center. That’s more than double the level reported in 2011. Tablet ownership among U.S. adults has also skyrocketed—topping 50 percent in 2016, up from three percent in 2010.1 As mobile devices go mainstream, they’re being used in just about every workplace including construction sites.

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Answering these questions won’t be easy. Your best bet is to work with someone who understands your business—a trusted advisor who will help apply mobile technology strategically to maximize safety, efficiency and profitability.

Close to 80 percent of U.S. adults are now using smartphones, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center. That’s more than double the level reported in 2011. Tablet ownership among U.S. adults has also skyrocketed—topping 50 percent in 2016, up from three percent in 2010.1 As mobile devices go mainstream, they’re being used in just about every workplace including construction sites.

Top 5 Uses
So how are contractors using mobile technology on the job? Sage Construction and Real Estate and the Associated General Contractors of America asked that question to a group of industry pros. Here’s how they responded.2

61%   Daily field reports
56%   Drawings, photos and documents
54%   Customer and job information
46%   Scheduling
44%   Job cost and project reports

The message is clear; your competitors aren’t limiting their mobile use to personal tasks—music, games, fitness tracking, social connections. They are leveraging those devices to gain an advantage—higher productivity, lower costs, stronger customer relationships and a safer workplace. Will you join them or watch on the sidelines as they take the lead?

Focus on Process
Making the move to mobile can be overwhelming, given the huge selection of apps available for construction professionals. As you consider where you might apply mobile technology, think in terms of apps that streamline these processes.Estimating – Develop estimates from any location, then sync data back to office system.

  • Bid management – Create, manage and distribute bids and proposals.
  • Change orders – Receive and execute changes to product plans.
  • Project management – Monitor project status and track time required to complete tasks.
  • Scheduling – Allocate people and assets to tasks documented in product management plan.
  • Equipment management – Track asset location, use, fuel consumption and other critical indicators of productivity and health.
  • Inspection – Capture and share inspection data, document problems, open and manage work orders.
  • Customer relationship management – Organize, store and share critical information related to customer accounts.
  • Document control – Provide a single place to store and share bids, RFQs and other important documents.

Of course, when it comes to optimizing core processes with mobile technology, integration is key. Mobile apps deliver the highest return when they are either part of or easily integrated into the overall business system.

Spotlight on Safety
Spend a few minutes in the app store and you’ll find some interesting standalone apps that enhance site safety.

  • Fall Safety was developed for people who work in high places. It uses an iPhone’s accelerometer to detect a fall, then sounds an audible alarm for 30 seconds and alerts emergency contacts by email, text and voice message.
  • OSHA Heat Safety Tool calculates the heat index on a worksite and displays a risk level for outdoor workers. It sends reminders about protective measures that should be taken at given risk levels and informs the user about signs and symptoms of heat illness and how to respond in a heat emergency.
  • Safety Meeting for Construction Contractors provides an easy way to document OSHA-required safety meetings. It introduces more than 950 safety topics and includes checklists and guidelines for reporting meetings, incidents, accidents and near-misses.

Make the Move to Mobile
There are many factors to consider as you explore a move to mobile.

  • Infrastructure – What’s the wireless availability in the areas you typically work?
  • Critical processes – Where can mobility drive the biggest efficiency gains?
  • Economics – What does the payback period look like?
  • Integration – How easily can an app be integrated into your business system?
  • Security – How will you protect and control access to data?
  • People – Who will use each app? What kind of training will be required?
  • Support – Will you need internal IT expertise?
  • Equipment – Who will provide the devices—you or your employees?
  • Quick wins – Are there opportunities to make small changes that deliver fast results?

Answering these questions won’t be easy. Your best bet is to work with someone who understands your business—a trusted advisor who will help apply mobile technology strategically to maximize safety, efficiency and profitability.

1 http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/12/evolution-of-technology/
2 https://www.sage.com/na/~/media/site/CRE/documents/CRE_IG_SageConstruction-technologyOutlook-Infographic-update-HighRes