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?
The construction industry has historically been slow to adapt to new technologies, but with a recent push from Silicon Valley, a lot of money is being poured into research and development. Just a few short years ago, robotics on the construction site was thought of as a pipe dream, but now there are several companies around the world that are making it a reality. It still may be years away from being adopted in a large scale, but the industry should begin to take note of the technological changes that are happening around them.
Robotics isn’t the only construction item that made headlines last year, there have also been advances in construction materials, Augmented and Mixed Reality, smart sensors, and RFIDs.
Below is our list of the best advances in construction technology from 2017:
Getting your communications right is critical on any construction site. For effective planning and coordination, for efficient management of different teams and for health and safety, having a reliable means of keeping everyone in touch at all times is essential.
Several years ago, Microsoft released their introduction into the mixed reality headset market with the Microsoft HoloLens. The headset, which looks like a pair of bulky, futuristic sunglasses, was touted as a game changer to many different industries. After teaming up with Trimble to directly tackle the construction industry and developing a couple construction technologies for the headset, construction companies have still been extremely hesitant to try out the technology.
Consistent documentation is one of the keys to running a successful and productive job site, but if you’re still using pen and paper, you’re falling behind. There are several web-based applications available to help you manage and organize your reports and photos in the cloud, including Raken, which has recently updated their web and mobile applications.
There is an opportunity to revolutionize the way we protect construction workers from fall hazards while dramatically reducing waste and inefficiency in the construction industry. The Hilmerson Safety Rail System™ was designed and engineered with feedback from industry experts with one goal in mind: Reinvent the guardrail to eliminate inefficiencies, cut costs, send zero waste to landfills, and improve workplace safety.
If you can believe it, we’re already in the middle of gift giving season as December is quickly approaching. Sorting through dozens of aisles in stores and hundreds of pages on line looking for that perfect gift for the construction professional in your life can leave you confused and frustrated. Construction Junkie is here to save the day with our 3rd Annual Ultimate Construction Holiday Gift Guide. Be sure to check out our 2015 and 2016 guide for additional ideas!
FieldLens, a web based application available on both Android and iOs, allows for real-time documentation of safety hazards, job site notes, and punch lists. The app eliminates the need to re-type your notes or send separate emails to the correct people, because it can create instantaneous reports on all the information you typed in to your phone or tablet on the job site.
Recently, Fieldlens added three new features that the company says are requested often
The Netherlands has a ton of bridges, especially pedestrian and biking bridges, thanks to its abundant system of canals. Perhaps because of that, they have become a leader in 3D printing technology when it comes to bridges.
It seems like every month there’s a new robot being debuted for the construction industry, with the promise of reducing costs and improving productivity and safety. There are robots for laying brick and block, placing concrete, and even self-driving mining trucks. The most recent robot to hit the job site is Built Robotics’ Autonomous Track Loader (ATL).
Concrete is an extremely strong building material, but has a notoriously weak tensile strength. In order to resist tension, bending, and shear forces, steel rebar or other reinforcement materials are added either prior to the placement or into the mix. Even with reinforcement, concrete is still extremely rigid and prone to cracking. In the event of a major earthquake, the uneven and horizontal forces can cause structures to crack and, in the worst case, cause failure.