While an upswing in the housing market is good news for the construction industry, many builders are concerned about higher materials costs. Innovative construction companies are utilizing advances in technology to make their builds more efficient. The construction industry has been notoriously reluctant to adopt technological advances in the field, but the time and management improvements they provide are too impressive to be ignored.
Increasingly, builders are relying on handheld devices such as smart phones, tablets and laptops to streamline their builds. While 70% of builders utilize computers and smartphones, a smaller group of 28-44% have implemented the use of apps and tablet computers in their on-site planning and execution.
80% of these users utilize technology for internal project management and communication while 50% use technology to make presentations to clients and view product options. Only 20% of users use technology to enable homeowners to track the project’s progress or for builders to track client satisfaction after a build has been completed.
Tablets are set to bring about a dramatic change in the construction industry. Some products, like Motion Tablets, have even been designed especially to overcome the particular needs of the construction industry. These tablets boast longer battery life and can be read anywhere, even in direct sunlight. Tablets help with project management, plans, product ordering and selection, on-site data collecting and improved communication means you save time on job sites and improve problem solving.
Tablets are particularly handy on site because they are portable and have a longer battery life. Plans can be accessed at any time and shared with everyone involved in the build. With tablets, issues can be tagged on plans and emails sent to the manager or designer concerned.
Plans and documents can be stored on the cloud and accessed on site through tablets. This means that documents are standardized and that communications, ordering and obtaining client approval is easy as pie.
Toronto architect, Logan Amos, from Altius: ‘Using 3D navigating applications, designers and builders can turn off and on different layers for 3D views of structural elements, mechanical chases or finish details like cabinetry and resolve any uncertainties immediately on site.’
When plans are stored in the cloud, changes to those plans are instantly accessible to everyone and all your contractors are working from the most current plans.
Punch lists (lists of issues and alterations that need to be made) are a tedious task. Inspectors go from room to room writing notes and numbering rooms and problems. They then have to type up the notes and send them to the contractors involved. With a tablet, pictures and videos of building site issues and notes can be created in the field and sent instantly.
Apps and other software programs enable real-time data collection in the field so you are able to use analytics to ensure that the build is flowing smoothly. This means that you can measure the time, efficacy and quality of each contractor. You will notice that the HVAC installer that works for 10% less actually takes twice as long to install the system.
Construction Apps that Work
AutoDesk’s AutoCAD WS: A cloud-based CAD editor.
Bentley’s Navigator: for project review and analysis.
PlanGrid: This is a time saving app where blueprints are stored in the cloud where access is fast and easy. Changes to plans in the cloud means that everyone is on the same page.
goBIM: This handy app allows you to access BIM models from your smartphone or tablet.
fingerCAD: Access your CAD files on the go with this handy application.
GreenPro: These helps workers in the field track and calculate LEED points.
CADTouch R2: Make or alter plans on the go.
BIM: Building Information Modeling (BIM) software helps key players to plan a build from conception to occupancy. Software such as Revit, and ArchiCAD streamline planning and build times by enabling more accurate planning and increased transparency of building components.
Energy modeling software ensures designs are efficient even before they are constructed. Ensuring that all the components of your proposed or existing building work together with the environment they
are located in will prevent overbuilding, unnecessary utility consumption and will ensure that your systems work harmoniously to create the most efficient building possible. Some examples include HOT2000, EE4 and eQUEST.
Project management software enables you to improve site management and prevent downtime. A building site manager is very much like the conductor of an orchestra. Effective planning means that materials arrive on time and that the site is organized so that each contractor can come in and complete their tasks in a safe and organized environment.
With so many players and elements in the mix, the building site manager must ensure that each phase of the build is completed on time to prevent delays. Project management software helps to keep track of each aspect of your build, ensures that you have all the information you need to make decisions and helps with contingency plans when issues arise.