Tablets have been finding their way into construction Project Managers' hands for a while now. With applications like Bluebeam, ProCore, and PunchPro, the use of iPads and tablets have become more common place and necessary. Currently, many Project Managers have a laptop or desktop PC and then carry an iPad for punch list during site visits.
When Microsoft launched the Surface Pro series of tablet PCs back in late 2012, they began a new trend and a new future for construction project management. What makes the Surface Pro tablets great for construction managers is that it combines the power of a laptop and the portability of a tablet. When in the office, the Surface Pro can be paired with a docking station and run up to 2 additional monitors plus all of your other peripherals like a mouse and keyboard. When out on the job, the Surface Pro can be used just like any other tablet and can run full Windows applications, rather than the small mobile apps, thus allowing for more powerful punch list applications and documentation. With the Surface, there is no need for both a PC and a tablet, as they can be on in the same and can save money in the long run. Microsoft is expected to debut a new Surface Pro 4 in mid-October (people think it will be announced on 10/4 to be symbolic of Windows 10 and the Surface Pro 4). We've already anointed Windows 10 as the non-Windows tablet killer, because of it's ability to convert both Android and iOs apps to Windows with a click of a button and to bring drawings to life with the use of holograms
The Microsoft Surface Pro is great, but as with any great products there is always a competitor, and Lenovo has just announced the new Miix 700, which is due to be on shelves in November of this year. The Lenovo Miix 700 carries the same specs as the Surface tablet, but it does have a slower processor, which may cause performance issues (yet to be seen), but will increase battery life. The main thing that I want to point out about this tablet is that it comes with the option to include Intel's RealSense Camera. We have mentioned these cameras before in an article about Dells Venue 8 7000. This new Surface Pro clone from Lenovo with the RealSense camera included has the potential to be the best construction management computer on the market (even though construction is not their target audience). The Miix 700 has a starting price of $699, which includes the keyboard cover, and is set to release in November.
The Miix 700 includes all of the great features from the Surface Pro 3 and additionally includes the RealSense camera which uses multiple cameras on the back of the tablet to create a 3D image of whatever you are taking a picture of. This allows you to extract additional information from the pictures, most notably the ability to pull measurements from the pictures, after you leave the job site.
It is clear to see how this can be an invaluable tool when it comes to as-builts or even finding a measurement that you forgot to take when on a site visit. This tool is helpful for the Estimator and the Construction Manager. Additionally, the camera software allows you to measure surface area from a photo as well, which is a powerful tool to estimating concrete pours or the amount of material that needs to be ordered.
Below is a video review by PhoneDog, which shows you exactly how the RealSense camera works and how accurate it is. The tablet he's using is the Dell Venue 8 7000, which he admits does not have the best camera.
The Lenovo Miix 700 with all of these features is gearing up to be the computer that every Construction Manager needs to have.
Lenovo Miix 700 (Starting at $699) | Lenovo - Set to release in November
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.
Every now and then a new product comes along and you ask yourself, “why didn’t I think of that?!” The OVAL Fire Extinguisher is just that product. Architecture and interior design have been moving towards cleaner lines in their spaces. Foregone are the days of bulky protruding water fountains (bubblers for my northern friends) and fire extinguisher cabinets. Interior designers are looking for cleaner and sleeker interior spaces but the 10lb fire extinguishers and cabinets have not changed for quite some time. OVAL is about to change all that.
Do you own Bosch Cordless Power Tools? Is it time for a battery upgrade? Take a look at Bosch’s new CORE 18V batteries. They have gone in and completely revamped their 18V batteries! They are now smaller, lighter, more powerful, have a longer life, and allow for more cuts and drives. Bosch has been able to achieve all of these benefits while also delivering corded performance in high-load applications.
The 2017 Milwaukee Tool New Product Symposium (NPS) was held last week at Milwaukee’s headquarters and it proved to be a whirlwind of new products and information from the red brand. Over 80 new tools and accessories, which will be released throughout the remainder of 2017, were presented to dozens of media representatives, including construction magazines, YouTubers, Instagrammers, and your favorite construction blog (Construction Junkie, obviously).
After flooding our social media pages with Milwaukee information and gathering our thoughts from the event, we’ve come up with our 9 biggest takeaways from the event, in no particular order.
After recently announcing the release of a bunch of new Bluetooth enabled tools and products, as well as an inventory platform, DeWalt has jumped all-in on internet connected construction sites with the announcement of Construction Site WiFi. Construction sites, especially large complex sites, are becoming more and more reliant on internet connectivity to efficiently manage their projects. This is great news for all of you who count on a consistent internet connection to use programs like Procore, PlanGrid, and Bluebeam, among others, to communicate between different parties on the job site and in the office.