Software and Technology
It’s no secret: Software and technology play an important role in how mason contractors not only run their companies, but perform on the jobsite. According to a recent report from Sage Construction and Real Estate, “Information Technology Trends Summary Report – North America Construction,” information technology is key to how construction companies are able to thrive and survive on lean budgets, working smarter and doing more with less.
The survey was conducted in 2014 among Sage customers in the United States and Canada who are in the construction business. A total of 838 people responded. FMI’s Phil Warner and R. Tyler Pare collaborated with Sage on the project. Key reasons for IT investment include streamlining processes, improving communication and collaboration, and attracting new customers. Here are a few nuggets of information we learned from Sage’s thorough report.
- Social technology: “While the use of social technology is growing in construction, its adoption is still relatively small. Many contractors are still unsure of the tangible benefits social technology brings to their company.”
- Obtaining new business: “Competitive pressure is pushing contractors to use technology to bid faster and with greater accuracy. Relatively few, however, have yet adopted CRM software as a way to improve their marketing, sales and business development efforts.” The top two technologies contractors use to obtain new business are estimating/bidding software and CRM software.
- Big data: “Big data is a relatively new term for most construction professionals, yet it promises to significantly improve how a construction company can forecast projects and predict what will impact their business in the future.”
- Business visibility technology: “Construction professionals are expanding their use of business visibility technology as an efficient means to improve decision making and company performance. Standardized reporting, dashboards, and alerts/notifications of changes were rated most important.”
- Popular types of technology: The most-used types of technology include mobile technology, tablets, smartphones, cloud computing, big data, and laptops.
Thirty-five percent of construction companies have no in-house staff for IT, and 42 percent have only one person. Today’s information technology includes networks, communications, field reports, accounting and compliance. This indicates a greater need for more in-house staff or a dedicated outside vendor versed in computer technology and responsible for results, says the report.
A successful contractor usually operates with sophisticated systems and processes. Well-developed software platforms aid in managing project challenges and tracking pertinent information. Well-developed IT capability and personnel can have an impact on the scalability of a business as well. This may be something to keep in mind as you manage the growth of your masonry company.
Following are a few reviews of some of the construction industry’s most helpful and functional software products. We hope you’ll get an idea of what is out there for you and your business.
American Institute of Architects’ ACDF
The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) ACD5 is an online contract document service that offers anytime, anywhere access to more than 180 AIA Contract Documents forms and agreements. ACD5 enables users to create, access, edit, share and store contract documents instantly from any computer, delivering accessibility and flexibility. The new platform also offers upgraded document management features and more purchase options.
ACD5 offers document bundles tailored to contractors and subcontractors. The ACD5 Contractor Essentials Bundle provides unlimited access to the payment applications and change orders for masonry professionals. It also includes the A401 Contractor-Subcontractor Agreement, in addition to nine of the most commonly used documents by contractors and subcontractors.
ACD5 incorporates new and improved features, including Mac and PC compatibility; simplified document collaboration; online/offline editing; enhanced security and protection; and new document management tools. ACD5 contract documents and forms deliver complete risk management and legal protector throughout every phase of design and construction.
Supplementing BIM With PDF
Bluebeam Software, a developer of PDF-based markup, measurement and collaboration solutions for the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry, says engineers, architects and contractors are transforming industry workflows by using the universal PDF format to go digital. PDF technology can bridge the gap among project partners in communicating and collaborating on BIM data. The powerful 2D and 3D PDF creation and markup capabilities of Bluebeam Revu, combined with the integrated cloud-based collaboration solution, Bluebeam Studio, enable structural engineers, detailers and estimators to work better. With Revu, users can communicate more easily in the field, minimize the risk of costly rework and complete fabrication schedules faster. Bluebeam Software products are sold direct and through a global network of resellers.
Cloud-Based Equipment Management Software for Contractors
Construction software provider Dexter + Chaney has released a complete equipment management solution for contractors that includes features for preventive maintenance, equipment tracking, and a mobile app. This equipment management software works with the company’s Spectrum Construction Software, which works in the cloud, requiring no software download or specific hardware devices. The latest updates to Dexter + Chaney’s equipment management offerings also include an app that can be downloaded for use on Apple and Android mobile devices. The app allows field staff to easily enter equipment information from the job site and synchronizes automatically with Spectrum Equipment Management. Dexter + Chaney said that, when designing Spectrum Equipment Management, the company started by looking at the fundamentals of good equipment management. These best practices are built into the software, creating better information flow and providing more financial, operational and field management data.
ExakTime Mobile 2.0 for iOS Devices
ExakTime has released its latest mobile app for simple time tracking on the go, ExakTime Mobile 2.0 for iOS devices. The new iOS version of the mobile time tracking app presents an optimized user interface on all iOS devices, for easy and convenient time tracking on your own iPhone or iPad product, including iPad Air and iPad mini.
ExakTime Mobile’s new iOS version also enables easy management of remote employees and crews with a powerful new GPS-enabled oversight option. Team View, available exclusively on the new iOS version of the app, allows a supervisor to view a map showing the clock-in coordinates of all company employees who’ve punched in via ExakTime Mobile. Supervisors are able to quickly confirm the whereabouts of single workers or small crews clocked in elsewhere in the field right from their own device.
Mobile App With Coverage Calculator
H.B. Fuller Construction Products Inc.’s TEC has released its first mobile app. The free TEC Installation Systems Coverage Calculator App includes product videos, contact information and a mobile version of the Coverage Calculator, which estimates the amount of tile and flooring installation products needed for a specific job.
The TEC Coverage Calculator allows contractors to calculate the estimated amount of surface preparation products, mortars and grouts necessary for a project. Contractors simply enter their project’s specifications – including square footage, tile size and size of grout joint – and product estimates are reported in pounds and gallons and bags and pails. Users can save a product’s coverage summary to the “My Saved Jobs” section on the app. With the new iPhone App, contractors can more conveniently access the benefits of the TEC Coverage Calculator, allowing them to plan for projects from virtually any location.
Center Software, a construction automation company, is partnering with Simpson Strong-Tie Co. Inc. Simpson Strong-Tie's structural building products are now available for contractors within On Center Software's Quick Bid solution.
Quick Bid is an estimating solution for construction professionals. This software enables contractors to easily, accurately and consistently increase project win rates and profit margins. The solution improves ramp-up time, eliminates discrepancies, improves bottom-line profits, provides material quotes, identifies and analyzes risk factors, measures and analyzes project progress, and provides reports.
Bluebeam Software, a developer of markup and collaboration solutions for the architecture, engineering and construction industries, has received a commitment from PCL Construction to deploy Revu, Bluebeam’s flagship solution.
“Having drawings and specs available in the field, in an electronic format, all linked together, gives our field engineers the freedom to move throughout the jobsite with all of the project information at their fingertips,” says Mark Bryant, CIO at PCL. “Revu facilitates the ability of our staff and subcontractors to keep up with daily changes made to a master set of design documents, and ensures a higher level of quality control.”
PCL uses Revu to navigate hyperlinked drawings in the field. With Revu on the iPad and on tablet PCs, field engineers are able to simply tap a room in a plan and easily reference all related documents, such as RFIs and submittals, specific to that room. Using Revu’s integrated cloud-based collaboration solution, Bluebeam Studio, allows PCL’s project teams to markup specification drawings for real-time clarification and coordination on the jobsite.
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