The following is a guest post by Matt Coffey, Marketing and Communications Manager for Wincourse Technologies Inc. Wincourse provides the construction industry with strategic technology services designed to help reduce IT management and support costs. This industry requires the latest in technology to stay competitive, reduce costs and increase efficiency. Wincourse's Cloud Solutions for construction allows your team to have access to all your information and applications in the office and on the job site. By partnering with Wincourse, you can work from Anywhere, Anytime, on Any Device!
The US National Institute of Science and Technology defines cloud computing as offering 5 essential characteristics: On-Demand Self Service, Broad Network Access, Resource Pooling, Rapid Elasticity, and Measured Service.
By migrating to the cloud, a business has the opportunity to have all of the information and process availability from anywhere, at any time, on any device.
Why is this important for the construction industry? Below are just three of the reasons you should be making the move.
It is important to be able to have all the correct information to make quick decisions and create reports. This isn’t usually the case in the field. The cloud gives your team the opportunity to have all the required information available to everyone that needs it, when they need it.
From RFIs to updated drawings, the cloud will host all of this. Your contractors need to be able to easily collaborate with subcontractors, owners and architects. The ability to instantly get answers to questions and have all essential updates can make the difference in staying within a projects timeline and budget.
The construction industry has a constant change of workforce and jobsites continuously across a wide area. Taking your business process to the cloud allows a seamless move from jobsite to jobsite, from employee to employee, and from the office to jobsite.
You are able to scale up or down when a project ends and begins, as well as when you bring on new team members. This flexibility saves you infrastructure costs that may rapidly increase or not even be used, depending on work load.
Essential information has to get passed form the jobsite to the office and vice versa every day, usually to multiple locations. The cloud gives you the ability to have access to the necessary applications to keep everything updated, without having to go to the office.
In the past, simple tasks such as processing payroll, creating financial reports, invoicing and logistics had to be documented at each job site, then sent to the home office to be keyed into the system. With the cloud, your timesheet applications, Sage, Timberline, or whatever your application preference is can easily be accessed from anywhere, at any time, on any device.
More than many other industries, construction has a large amount of processes and documentation that follows from jobsite to jobsite and from the jobsite to the office. With teams working in a spread out area, with most of them using tablets and smartphones, moving to the cloud seems like a no brainer.
The key is to find a cloud service provider who has the experience and know-how to maximize your results.
We have a lot of safety rules in construction and it’s practically impossible to monitor your job site for compliance of every single rule. To complicate matters, many rules are based upon exposure limits, especially when airborne particles are involved. OSHA recently reduced the allowable exposure limit of silica dust, which is found in concrete, stone, and brick, before additional PPE or engineering controls are required. This rule change has caused a lot of grief among construction industry groups, who called the rule technologically infeasible, because what contractor is really set up to measure when 50 micrograms of silica dust per cubic meter of air is actually reached?
Twitter, the social media site that people seem to either love or hate, has made people more aware of their surroundings and can be a soundboard for controversy. For some companies, Twitter is used for a large part of their customer service program, responding to complaints within the 160 character limit. Now, it seems, contractors could potentially have a powerful watchdog looking over their shoulder, as long as the tweets land in the right hands.
Remember when all phones did was make calls? Me either. Smartphones are becoming more and more powerful by the day, they’re already cameras, note takers, and thermal imaging cameras, but now they can add x-ray vision sensors to the list.
Plastic bottles are probably inside more buildings than we’d care to know about, as I’ve personally (and unfortunately) been on enough job sites to see way too many bottles thrown around the job site, outside of trash containers. A large percentage of the bottles that are lucky enough to make it in a dumpster, end up in a landfill where it takes them an estimated 500 years to fully decompose! In an effort to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in our nation’s landfills, one startup company is hoping to turn recycled plastic into the next green construction material.
Keeping your feet safe on the job site is a no brainer and boots with toe protection are almost always required. The problem with gloves has always been trying to find a balance between adequately protecting hands and maintaining dexterity and functionality. Too much protection could cause your hands to be immobilized or reduce your ability to actually use the tools you’re being protected against. But gloves that are too comfortable may only act as an extra layer of skin and you’re left nursing a black and blue index finger.
There has been lots of robot talk in the past few years in construction, whether it’s trying to give humans the strength of a robot, 3D printing robots, or automated robots that can perform repetitive tasks on the job site. Masonry has been a sought after market for the robotics industry, it seems that there’s a bit of an arms race to the top of the robotic brick laying mountain. The latest competitor in this field is the Hadrian X, developed by Fastbrick Robotics in Perth, Australia.
With the introduction of 3D printers on construction job sites, many are worried that robots will begin taking over the jobs of hardworking tradesmen. It’s more likely, however, that workers will be working WITH robots long before we’re completely replaced. For example, one company that makes exoskeletons to help paraplegics walk is also developing an exoskeleton specifically for constructions workers that will allow them to lift 50 pound pieces of equipment with one finger. Now, a former NASA and General Motors (GM) partnership has turned into an expedition into the blue collar fields.
Imagine a world where the millions upon millions of square feet of roadway and parking lots across the world actually served a greater purpose than a flat surface to drive and park a vehicle. That’s the world that Scott and Julie Brusaw, creators of Solar Roadways, imagine and their dream is becoming closer to reality after years of testing and research.
Tape measure, wheel measure, and laser measures are all great tools for their own situations, but why isn’t there one that can do all three of those jobs? That doesn’t have to be a question anymore, because there’s a new smart measure hitting the market that can do it all.
Road construction work is dangerous. It changes driving patterns, which is especially hazardous if drivers are impaired or distracted. There have been several teams of researchers and manufacturers that are attempting to make road construction safer for contractors, like this autonomous TMA truck from Royal Truck & Equipment and this smart safety vest designed by engineers at Virginia Tech, which gives workers a few seconds of warning is an object is approaching too quickly.