Mobile Technology Trends the Construction Industry Should be Adopting
The construction industry has been mobile from the very beginning, but mobile technology has just recently started to catch up to the industry. As mobile technology becomes a necessity for construction firms, an obvious divide is developing between the companies who are willing to be innovative, and the ones who have yet to make the shift toward mobility.
For those who are slow to make the shift, here are some of the many mobile technology trends that your company should be adopting:
Big Changes Come in Small Applications
Perhaps the most basic and easily adoptable form of mobile technology is mobile applications. It seems that there is an app for everything these days, and the construction industry is no exception. Construction workers and managers can use applications to do daily reporting, scheduling, timecards, and many other things in a more accurate and time-sensitive manner. These mobile apps will allow all parties to view the same information and avoid anybody waiting for information or viewing outdated documents. Apps also allow for data to be entered offline, which is important to construction workers who are often in remote areas. This offline information will automatically sync as soon as an Internet connection is found.
Bring Your Own Device
A survey conducted in 2014 concluded that 40% of employees in the United States use their own personal mobile device to aid them in their workday. This number is only going to increase as the concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) gains traction in relevant industries. The construction industry is seeing an increase in BYOD as more companies are willing to adopt mobile technology and the aid of mobile devices for work purposes. Mobile devices are no longer primarily personal devices, but rather a multifunctional device that can be vital to many different operations in the workplace.
Many companies who still use manual timecards find that money is lost due to inaccurate reporting. This is especially true in the construction industry, where it is hard to keep track of worker’s hours while they are traveling from location to location. This mobility of the workplace makes it hard to keep employees accountable using traditional timecard methods. GPS tracking has solved the problem of employee mobility by using mobility to its advantage. Mobile technology has the ability to track employees and record their locations while also creating a perimeter around each job-site that will automatically record time spent on that job-site.
Mobile Reporting and Digital Documentation
Mobile reporting can streamline processes and update information immediately. If a worker can update a report in real-time without leaving the job-site, the document can be reviewed, changed, and ultimately approved all before the worker leaves the job-site. This immediacy of information eliminates wasted downtime waiting for information, which greatly improves productivity and efficiency.
Wearable Technology and Augmented Reality
Wearable technology has not yet completely permeated the construction industry, however, it is going to become more prevalent as its features become more aligned with the needs of the construction industry. Wearable technology has the capability to enhance virtual or augmented reality on the jobsite, which will improve accuracy and efficiency of operations on the field. Some wearables can measure biometrics, which can alert people of bodily safety hazards immediately. Wearables can also include cameras that are attached to the person or to a vehicle, which will relay video to people who are off-site so they can see the same things as the on-site workers.
Many project management solutions are integrating the mobile application as well as the desktop capabilities so that the people in the back office, as well as the people on the field, can update and view any information at any time. The abilities of mobile are far more beneficial when they can be shared with all stakeholders. It is also beneficial to have all functions exist on a single platform so that written communications, documents, and reporting forms are all available in one place. Many applications are capable of being integrated with an all-inclusive project management solution. This integration ability will eliminate harmful data silos that previously existed between applications.
There has been chatter about drones in the past couple of years but despite a couple of industries experimenting with its capabilities, it has yet to come into the commercial marketplace at full-force. However, as drones become more technologically advanced and companies experiment more with their capabilities specific to their industry, they are predicted to permeate the construction industry. These drones will be useful for checking progress on-site, as well as troubleshooting, and issue identification.
When dealing with a workforce who is constantly in motion, mobile construction technology is necessary to keep construction projects running smoothly. There are many ways that mobile technology is expanding. It is the contractor’s job to be aware of these changes and determine which versions of mobile innovation are best for his company.