For decades, the construction industry operated strictly off of paper forms and drawings, but with the quickly rising popularity of tablets and the increasing power and abilities of smartphones, those documents are becoming more accessible by the minute. Because of that, there are many companies looking to become “the” construction document management software.
The construction industry as a whole is at a crossroads right now. The old guard, who still prefer paper documentation, is slowly fading away and technology is creeping into the job sites. For those who are more open to technology, the fact there’s not a clear leader in this type software development poses a major problem. There are tons of construction document managers currently available on the market right now, but subcontractors could work for several different general contractors in a given year and general contractors could work with many different owners and architects in a given year. Each company has their own reasons for liking one software in particular, whether it be price, security, or function, but until one software becomes a leader, the industry will be spinning its wheels.
Every industry has one or two clear software leaders. Why? Because people don’t have time to learn a new software with each new job they work on. Imagine an architect working on a set of drawings in AutoCAD, while simultaneously working on drawings with a pencil and paper, while also using a different software to complete a third set of drawings. Not only will that get convoluted very quickly, but that architect’s overhead will skyrocket in order to keep up. They’ll need additional admin support and your office workers will be slowed down to the point where you can’t accept an additional project. That’s exactly the situation technology is supposed to help us avoid, but that’s exactly the situation the construction industry has gotten itself into.
All that leads us to this: Autodesk has put its hat into the ring with regards to construction document management. For me, this news is both exciting and frustrating: exciting because Autodesk has the money and resources to completely take over the construction document management arena, finally giving our industry an industry standard, but frustrating because Autodesk may be too late to solve the problem. Autodesk is a top 25 global software leader and the construction industry has been relying on their software for years, with products such as AutoCAD, Revit, and Buzzsaw. With those extremely popular products in their arsenal, it only makes sense for them to step into document management.
Autodesk’s BIM 360 Docs touts the fact that their software will combine all of the abilities of the industry’s other applications into one platform. That includes the ability to organize and track an unlimited amount of drawings and documents, link 2D and 3D drawings, perform drawing markups, and assign security access levels. The software is set to launch commercially some time in 2016, but they’re making a preview available for free on their website, so you can get a look at how the program will function before it’s released. The software will also allow some functionality on a mobile device, but it’s only optimized for Apple users at this point.
The video below gives you a glimpse of the software and its abilities:
It obviously remains to be seen whether or not it will catch on and, without a formally announced release date, that gives other software developers more time to establish a deeper customer base, further dividing the industry. It will be interesting to see if this development forces smaller software companies to merge their teams to battle Autodesk. Whether or not Autodesk is the one that takes control, it’s clear that the construction industry needs some type of technological stabilization.
Tell us what you think: What document management system do you prefer? Does it meet all of your needs?
When construction companies initially started to adopt mobile technologies like tablets and smartphones, there was a race between many construction technology companies to be the future leader in the area. As the years rolled on, it became less and less likely that one app was going to be the end-all-be-all, like AutoCAD became in the architectural design world. There’s not one app out there right now that provides every single function that a construction company needs, because each company is very unique. The solution? Integration.
Communication is key to a safe and productive construction environment. One of the biggest challenges of effective communication on job sites is the complexity and size of the project, which inhibits being able to contact the correct people in a timely manner. Tracking devices have been a hot button issue in construction news for the last few years. Some examples include RFID tag sensors in hard hats, such as the one being used on certain job sites in Washington DC and time sheet applications, which allow employers to track their employee’s locations using the GPS on their phone’s or tablets.
In March of this year, Elon Musk announced that Tesla would begin taking orders on their Solar Roof Shingle concept. Tesla Solar Roof is a solar power roof system that eliminates the need for bulky solar panels installed over top of traditional roof materials. Instead, the shingles themselves, which come in a variety of different styles, are the solar panels.
At the company’s second quarter earnings report, Tesla announced that the first solar roof installations have been completed.
[guest post] The progress of construction sites is usually captured by taking still photos of different areas that have been subject to change. Documenting a full construction site requires a lot of pictures (usually more than ten per room), and even then not every corner of a room can be captured.
Standard vertical elevators have had it too good, for too long. After the first cable dependent elevator was unveiled in 1857, not much has changed in the elevator industry. They’re still using cable systems and still only going up and down. But not anymore. ThyssenKrupp has officially made a multi-directional elevator a reality.
Caterpillar is not resting on what made it successful in the past anymore and probably for good reason. The equipment manufacturing giant recently bought Yard Club, a heavy construction equipment sharing company, looking to take advantage of the recently popularized sharing economy. Earlier this month, Caterpillar invested $2 million in Fastbrick Robotics, an Australian robotic technology company.
Augmented and Virtual Reality has always been designated for large headsets. Even with recent developments in the construction industry, like Microsoft Hololens and the DAQRI Smart Helmet, if you want to experience AR, you have to get used to wearing something you’re not used to around a job site. As cool as both of those technologies are, it seems that the ole trusty smartphones and tablets have been overlooked. A Danish BIM company has developed a smartphone and tablet application that leaves the headsets behind.
It’s pretty amazing all of the things that smartphones can do right now. While some wish phones would go back to “just making dang blasted phone calls, like the good ole days,” it’s clear that phone’s will always be more than that moving forward. Through apps and other attachments, phones can now turn into a thermal imagine camera, an x-ray vision scanner to see what’s behind walls, a laser measure, and now an augmented reality tape measure.
For many construction superintendents and project managers across the world, tablets are becoming one of the most important tools on the job site. They’re great for looking at plans, taking pictures, making notes, and running your favorite construction apps. Carrying a tablet does take up at least one of your hands, however, so it can be a hindrance if you need to help a co-worker lift material or climb a ladder.
Fiskars was first founded as a Finnish Ironworks company in 1649, making it one of the oldest companies I have heard of that is still going strong. Recently – relatively speaking - in 1967, Fiskars made a name for themselves with their orange handled scissors. Noted for their build quality, sharpness, and durability, these scissors quickly became an industry standard and a leader in the category. Since then, Fiskars has expanded into other areas of the home and outdoors. You may also recognize the name Gerber, as this is one of the brands Fiskars sells under.