How to See an ROI from Your Telematic System Faster

construction technologyA telematic system gives you the data you need to manage your equipment in more cost-effective ways, but there’s a learning curve to using one. By investing some time in planning how you’ll use yours, you’ll start enjoying the full benefits of a telematic system as soon as possible.

Set Clear Goals

Raw data won’t help you much if don’t know how you’re going to use it. Start defining your goals for using your telematic system by listing eight to 10 improvements you could make using the data.

Then focus in on the top three opportunities you want to take advantage of right now. Any more than that and you risk spreading your efforts too thin or getting tied up in unnecessary complexity. Once you’ve achieved your goals with those opportunities, move on to the next.

Choose an Experienced, Responsive Provider

When you’re choosing a telematic system provider, take your time to investigate each company. Find out how long they’ve been in business, who their clients are, and how many telematic boxes they’re managing.

Talk with them enough to get a feel for their level of expertise. A provider should be able to explain the benefits of a telematic system in plain English and help you understand how to use the data to improve cost savings, safety and efficiency. If they can only throw jargon and statistics at you, it’s a sign they don’t truly understand what they’re talking about.

Put Someone in Charge

It’s all too easy to collect data without actually using it to make improvements. To make sure valuable information is put to use, assign one or two people to the job of implementing your telematic project.

Your field workers are ideally positioned to make use of the data, but first they need to get it in a format they can understand. The job of analyzing data, creating reports, and getting information to the right people in the field should be the primary responsibility of at least one person.

For more guidance on realizing the full benefits of a telematic system, contact us at Construction Monitor.

Can Smart Vests Make Job Sites Safer?

While you might view technology in the construction industry primarily from an efficiency standpoint, some of today’s technology also offers major health and safety benefits. Among these is a smart vest developed to alert wearers to the signs of heat illness before their health suffers.

technology in the construction industryHeat Illness: An Increasingly Common Threat

Unusually high summer temperatures have become more frequent across the country and with them, the risk of heat-related illnesses also rises. This growing threat prompted the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to launch their annual Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers.

Construction workers are at high risk for heat illness due to the physical labor, protective clothing, and heat-generating equipment involved in the work. Providing your workers with plenty of water, shade and rest time doesn’t eliminate the risk. Workers don’t always realize when their discomfort has reached dangerous levels.

Heat stress causes excessive thirst, weakness, clumsiness, dizziness and nausea. A worker may write these symptoms off as normal fatigue and fail to seek help until they’ve suffered more serious health consequences. In severe cases, the worker may collapse before reaching help.

A new smart vest developed by Ruwini Edirisinghe, a researcher with RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, prevents this situation by alerting the wearer to danger. The vest is thought to be the first of this kind of technology in the construction industry.

How the Smart Vest Protects Your Workers

The smart vest looks like an ordinary yellow safety vest. Built into the fabric are sensors that collect data on the temperature of the working environment, as well as the worker’s body temperature and heart rate. The sensors send the data wirelessly in real time to a smartphone app via Bluetooth. If the app detects any abnormalities, it immediately alerts both the wearer and the site supervisor.

The early warning lets the worker stop and rest before suffering any adverse health effects. Because the supervisor is also alerted, there’s little chance the worker will simply ignore the warning.

To learn more about how technology in the construction industry can benefit you, visit the construction leads experts at Construction Monitor.

Is Paperless Really an Option in the Construction Industry

Paperwork may seem like an inevitable inconvenience, but with the growth of technology in the construction industry, paper documents are becoming less and less necessary. Used wisely, technology can let you break free from the hassle and clutter of paper files.

technology in the construction industryBuilding Plans

Digital plans, such as BIM models and augmented reality, put every part of your project at your fingertips no matter where you are in the world. All authorized team members contribute to a single plan, so everyone has access to the most up-to-date version. That means fewer errors and delays caused by confusion over outdated plans. Because everyone on the team can share their input and solicit ideas from each other at their convenience, collaboration happens faster and more often.

Project Management

Every construction project requires countless pages of documentation and keeping it all organized drains your time and resources. Construction project management software lets you organize, update, and review all your documentation on one single platform. You can manage your schedule, budget, bidding, building plans, contracts, and other aspects of your projects without a single printed page.

Employee Timesheets

Mobile timesheet apps let your workers clock in and out right from their smart phones, and let supervisors easily monitor every worker. With some apps, timesheets can be completed at the end of each day, and the data sent to your accounting system. There’s no time lost and no risk of error as there is when entering hand-written records. As a plus, when your labor costs are updated daily, you can track job costs by the day for greater accuracy.

Document Storage

The use of technology in the construction industry in a huge space and time-saver for many companies. By storing your documents online in a cloud storage solution, you’ll save office space and keep your documents safe from fire, floods, and theft. You and your team members can instantly access any document from wherever you are at the moment. Try that with an office full of filing cabinets.

To learn more about how your company can benefit from technology in the construction industry, contact Construction Monitor.

5 Easy Ways to Generate More Construction Leads from Your Website

A contractor website can be either an invaluable tool or a waste of money depending on how it’s designed. To turn yours into a profit-maker, try a few time-tested contractor marketing tips for better lead generation.

contractor marketing tips for better lead generationDisplay top-quality photos: Providing clear photos of your work is one of the best ways to show prospective clients exactly what you’re capable of. A few snapshots won’t cut it. Hire an architectural photographer to take indoor and outdoor shots of your projects in various stages. Display them on your website in a portfolio that’s attractive, clearly labelled, and easy to browse.

Include your website in your leave-behind: When you visit a prospective client, leave a folder containing your brochure, images of your work, and some testimonials. Along with this, include information on why prospects should stop by your website. Focus on what’s in it for them, such as the helpful tips, how-to videos or valuable data they’ll find at your site.

Present important information first: Think about what information a prospective client wants when visiting your site and give that information priority positioning. They’ll want to know what services you offer, what you specialize in, and what your portfolio looks like. A press release about your new Chief Procurement Officer, however, shouldn’t be taking up space on your homepage.

Include a clear call to action (CTA): Know exactly what you want your website visitors to do and make sure your site is designed to lead visitors toward that action. A confused visitor will click away fast. Use a strong call-to-action that encourages the visitor to call or text you, or to fill out your contact form immediately. Include your contact information on every page.

Offer a newsletter: Not every prospective client will contact you on their first visit to your site. Getting visitors signed up to a mailing list gives you more chances to connect with them and win them over. Every month or two, send out a newsletter that offers real value to your prospects.

To get more contractor marketing tips for better lead generation, contact us at Construction Monitor.

Pros & Cons of Using a BIM Model for your Next Project

Building information modeling, or BIM, is an effective technique for conceiving, planning, and designing structures of any size and complexity. As you decide whether a BIM system is right for you and how BIM and general construction go together, keep in mind the following pros and cons of BIM modeling.

BIM and general constructionAdvantages of BIM

  • Better planning and design: Using BIM, you can visualize a completed building and all its components and systems before the first shovelful of dirt is moved on the construction site. This information allows better planning and design that takes best advantage of available space and resources.
  • Fewer reworks: BIM allows you to see potential problem areas and fix them before the error is committed in the physical world. This reduces the need for costly rework and revision.
  • Savings on materials: BIM systems track and monitor resources and provide detailed information on needs even before construction begins. You are less likely to order more than needed and can replenish supplies only when necessary.
  • Support for prefabrication: BIM allows you and your partners to more easily prefabricate components of the project offsite, which saves time and money.

Disadvantages of BIM

  • Incompatibility with partners: BIM is not yet universally used among construction professionals. There is always the possibility that one of your partners or subcontractors may not use BIM and may not be able to use your models.
  • Legal issues: The legal ramifications of using BIM software have not yet been extensively tested, let alone settled.
  • Cost of software: BIM software requires a substantial investment in new technology. The advantages usually make the investment worthwhile, but only if the software is used to its full capacity.
  • Lack of experts: The relative newness of BIM means that there are limited numbers of experts working in the field. Your software purchase may require an additional investment in training and education.

Construction Monitor helps companies in the industry stay informed about how new technology will affect all phases of the construction process. Contact us today for more information on how BIM and general construction will continue to be a valuable and effective combination.

3 of the Best Apps for Your Jobsite

By saving time and reducing error, mobile technology lets construction professionals boost profits while keeping their clients happier. Getting the greatest benefit out of a mobile device requires choosing the right construction apps, and there are a few that stand out above the rest.

construction appsConstruction Manager

Some half-million construction professionals use this app to keep their entire team informed in an accurate and timely manner. The Job Estimator function allows contractors to calculate cost estimates directly on site. The cost of materials, equipment use, and labor is all taken into account.

Using the Daily Report and Maintenance Log functions, workers can easily file all project-related information from the field. The result is a consistent, detailed record of the project’s daily progress that makes it easy to spot any developing problems and prevent delays. The speed and simplicity of record-keeping means less risk of lost paperwork and forgotten details.

PlanGrid

PlanGrid is a project collaboration app that lets everyone on the team share and contribute to the project from any location. Boasting an exceptionally fast blueprint viewer, the app lets team members get down to business instead of hassling with slow-rendering plans.

Markups and notes instantly sync, so users can always access the current set of plans. They’ll receive instant notification when a change is made, allowing them to review and share their input immediately. The app organizes project photos by automatically tagging and archiving them, so all team members can quickly find the photos they need.

Synchroteam

One of the greatest benefits of construction apps is their ability to keep track of everyone working on the project no matter where they are. Using Synchroteam, managers can schedule and dispatch workers with a simple drag-and-drop, and can track current jobs at a glance. Work orders are easy to review for information such as location and equipment required. The app sends notifications for new and rescheduled jobs, reducing the risk of jobs being left undone.

To learn more about how construction apps make contractors’ lives easier, contact us at Construction Monitor.

3 Trends Impacting the Construction Industry in 2016

In the latter part of 2015, construction industry professionals should take some time to look forward at the trends in the construction industry that are likely to affect them in 2016. Being ready for new developments can help builders, company owners, and contractors prepare for opportunities that might arise with little advance warning. Here is a brief outline of three of those trends that could make 2016 a productive year.

  1. Sustainability: Environmental consciousness and trends in the construction industry“green” construction remain a major consideration for many builders and their customers. This trend shows little sign of declining in 2016. Many construction clients are urging (or requiring) builders and contractors to use recycled materials or proven sustainable materials that can be easily renewed. Interest is growing in sustainability factors such as zero-energy homes that produce all the energy used within the home. Energy conservation is also becoming more popular, and in response high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, LED lighting and other efficient lighting equipment, and low-flow plumbing fixtures and water conservation processes will be installed more frequently.
  2. Micro-apartments: The trend of “small living” in micro-apartments, and to a further extent, in tiny homes, is expected to expand in 2016. These very small living spaces provide all the basic amenities but in a dramatically reduced space, sometimes just a few hundred square feet. Micro-apartments offer residents a less expensive dwelling option in high-demand areas, such as downtowns and popular urban sites. Tiny houses, in contrast, provide small individual homes that can easily be moved to places where the residents can live with few restrictions.
  3. New technologies: Technology will continue to advance and, as it does so, it will have an effect on the construction industry. Efficiency will be improved through better communication via smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers. Important data, such as drawings, materials lists, and contracts, will be immediately available through construction management software.

Trend-watchers can count on Construction Monitor to provide the latest and most accurate information on construction industry developments. Contact us today for more information on trends in the construction industry that are likely to have a widespread impact in 2016.

Staying Relevant in the Digital Age: Challenges Impacting Contractors

Modern technology gives today’s contractors opportunities to streamline their workflows, trim costs, and grow their client lists. While keeping pace with technology in the construction industry isn’t always easy, it’s a must for contractors who want to survive in the current marketplace.

technology in the construction industryWeighing the Costs and Benefits

With so many details and participants involved in every construction project, flawless organization is critical for meeting today’s client expectations. Oversights and miscommunication cause costly errors and delays that make a firm seem less competent than the competition.

Construction management software lets contractors bring order to even the most complex projects, helping them deliver a better product faster. Due to the upfront and ongoing costs involved, however, some firms may be reluctant to make the switch from a paper-based management system.

Those who do often find the benefits outweigh the costs. Important documents are stored securely, so they won’t go missing or be destroyed by accident. Employees have immediate access to the information they need. Both these factors prevent unnecessary delays. Management software also improves cost control by providing contractors with up-to-the-minute information that can be used to head off cost overruns.

Managing the Learning Curve

Advanced communication technology has increased the speed at which we do business. Clients, subcontractors, and other business partners have come to expect fast responses and the option for remote collaboration. One way construction firms can meet these demands is by equipping managers with tablet computers and other mobile devices.

Taking advantage of this kind of technology in the construction industry means investing both money and time in training, as well as ensuring employees actually use the devices and software available. While that may cause some initial delays and confusion, the payoff is a leaner, more cost-effective process.

With cloud-based BIM software, everyone involved in the project can easily contribute and share without the need for drawn-out email conversations and in-person meetings.
Mobile devices and apps let managers instantly file information from on-site inspections, improving safety and code compliance.

To stay up to date on technology in the construction industry, contact us at Construction Monitor.

 

4 Benefits of a Telematic System in Construction

benefits of a telematic systemThe more information you have about your construction equipment, the more effectively you can use that equipment. The detailed data a telematic system provides helps you improve efficiency and cost control, but these are just some of the benefits of a telematic system.

Optimize Your Equipment Use

A construction telematic system uses Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers and modems to collect information about individual machines and transmit that information to a webpage where you can monitor it.

You’ll see exactly when a machine is in use and when it’s been left idling. Idling wastes fuel and creates unnecessary wear, so reducing idle time saves you money on operation and maintenance. Knowing how much use a machine gets can also help you decide whether it’s more economical to purchase your own or rent.

Streamline Maintenance

A telematic system simplifies equipment maintenance scheduling by making it easier to see which machines are due for maintenance based on their performance. Keeping up with maintenance reduces equipment downtime. Using a telematic system cuts labor costs by reducing the number of times you’ll need to send out a worker to check on a machine’s condition.

Keep Your Equipment Safe

One of the simplest yet most valuable benefits of a telematic system is its ability to prevent unauthorized use and theft of your equipment. A telematic system can sense when a machine is moving or operating when it shouldn’t be. Some systems allow you to set a curfew window during which the system immobilizes the equipment. If a machine is taken off site, the GPS receivers will help you track it down.

Make Smarter Financial Decisions

A telematic system makes it easy to track equipment hours. You’ll know exactly how many hours a machine was used on each day of a particular job, which helps ensure accurate billing. Knowing how many equipment hours are typically logged on certain types of jobs allows you to make more accurate estimates and stay competitive on pricing.

To learn more about the potential benefits of a telematic system for your firm, contact us at Construction Monitor.

3D Printing and the Future of the Construction Industry

3D printing in the construction industryOver the last 20 years, 3D printing has developed into an efficient method for creating a wide range of functional objects. The use of 3D printing in the construction industry is just beginning to show benefits, but it could soon change the way your firm does business.

The State of 3D Printing in Construction

In 2014, the Chinese construction firm WinSun became one of the first to demonstrate the capabilities of this technology when it created 10 houses by assembling 3D-printed components. In 2015, another Chinese firm, ZhuoDa Group, created multi-story homes with using 3D printing.

The Dutch firms DUS Architects and Ultimaker Ltd. have taken it a step further by developing their own printer, the KamerMaker (Room Maker). This printer creates entire rooms that can be tested for safety and usability, then assembled into a building. The 3D Print Canal House in Amsterdam is the firms’ current project.

New Possibilities in Architecture

The use of 3D printing in the construction industry opens up new design possibilities in terms of both aesthetics and practicality. You’ll be able to modify a building design and add individualized elements simply by changing the design model file.

This technology makes it easier to produce curved concrete components, helping you design more structurally sound buildings, given that curvilinear forms are often stronger than rectangular forms. Unlike conventionally made curved forms, 3D-printed versions can be made with hollow centers, letting you fit essentials such as electrical wiring inside the building’s structural elements.

When you create concrete components using 3D printing, you’ll see less waste than with conventional concrete forming techniques. Any components you don’t need can be recycled, reducing your costs and environmental impact. The potential for building with eco-friendly materials, such as the corn bio-plastic used by the KamerMaker, further mitigates environmental impact.

Printing building components requires less labor than conventional building methods and reduces the risk of injury to your workers. The considerably reduced expense means savings for your firm and greater availability of affordable housing for the public.

To learn more about 3D printing in the construction industry, contact us at Construction Monitor.