Paul Bedard, Director, Global Enterprise Data Solutions, Verizon Enterprise Solutions (April 2013)
In construction, one of the biggest recent developments in project management is the integration of mobile technology. The tools that help collaboration and eliminate bottlenecks in the three phases of construction — planning, designing, and building — are rooted in tablets, smartphones, and mobile intelligent hotspots, also known as “Jetpacks.”
Whether the construction project is a one-story standalone building or a skyscraper, there are a number of professionals involved, ranging from builders to job site supervisors, who want the project efficiently managed while minimizing cost overruns.
Initializing the Construction Site
There was a time when it wasn’t unusual to see a trailer on a construction site weeks before the company was able to get a telephone and Internet connection. Mobile technology is a boon to the construction industry and has enabled site set-ups to be readied quickly. Jetpacks can connect up to 10 devices to high-speed broadband service such as 4G LTE, as can some tablets and smartphones. For those who need a more sophisticated solution, products like the wireless Ericsson Converged Workspace offer a complete set of integrated voice and data communications (Wi-Fi, voice, data, and PBX) and can be rapidly deployed even on a jobsite.
Mobile project management has also benefited from the introduction of the tablet, which is quickly becoming the must have tool for the worksite. Coupled with a rich ecosystem of apps and remote data storage, “cloud” services let engineers, builders, and supervisors with a vested interest in the project create and share blueprints, contracts, schematics, and other vital documents in the building information modeling (BIM) process in real-time. The cloud has made virtual storage practical in many ways, but the value proposition is that everything can be secured with a password so only the authorized professionals have access.
Video — What you See — Or NEED to See…
Another critical element of mobile technology for construction is video. Not only does it offer remote team members the ability to collaborate, but with time-lapse photography, it can also be an integral part of asset tracking and site surveillance. The good news is that mobile video is increasingly available in high definition, making identification and collaboration easier, accentuating the business value of 4G LTE technology.
By using video surveillance with 4G LTE technology, site managers can get a multiscreen view of the job to check progress as well as detect any unauthorized or suspicious activity. At a typical construction site, supplies, tools, vehicles, and other essentials are in constant use. Asset tracking apps downloaded to a mobile device not only help manage the machinery, but when combined with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, can help reduce inventory shrinkage and waste. In a world where black market thieves are constantly looking for copper or a skip loader, video can be the key to preventing theft that can delay a project while the team searches for replacements.
Wheels, Gas, and Maintenance
Through machine-to-machine (M2M) technology, fleet management systems play a significant role in construction through many aspects, including vehicle diagnostics, worker utilization, fuel consumption, and compliance. In addition, fleet management measures driving habits such as hard braking, speed, and other behaviors, which lead to wear and tear on the vehicles, including heavy-duty machinery and traditional autos that are used on site. Having a dashboard view of the vital daily metrics can make the work site more efficient and help lower expenses.
Make Your Site Mobile
To make a construction site extremely efficient, the best guidance is to ensure the team is well versed and trained in all aspects of mobile technology. The more people know of the vision and plans — and the business rational for making mobile a seamless part of the workflow — the better they can execute. Project completion is paramount to profit.