5 Ways Mobile Apps Are Transforming the Construction IndustryTrucks, modern hydraulic excavators, portable nail guns, and circular saws all have one thing in common: they are tools and equipment you are most likely to find at a construction site. A relatively hidden but equally accurate commonality, however, is that they all did not exist a century ago.
The job site would be eerily different without technology. If not for power tools, workers would be cutting and drilling by hand, or perhaps teeth. And without heavy equipment, trenches would be limited to just the size that shovels and pickaxes can manage. Technology has always driven construction forward. Today, sites are safer, collaborative, more productive, and more complex than ever.
Now that the digital age is in high gear, however, the construction industry is once again evolving. To establish a competitive edge, companies must look to new technologies. Among the most promising offerings from the tech sector, mobile devices present new opportunities for improving productivity, decreasing costs, speeding up project timelines, and achieving client satisfaction. Thanks to an ever-expanding variety of mobile apps, construction managers can keep track of teams, schedules, daily progress, invoicing, and a lot more.
Mobile Apps Adoption In The Construction SectorThe construction industry is currently facing several challenges, and among the most significant is lackluster productivity. A study by the World Economic Forum found that the industry has been somewhat lacking in productivity advancements over the last five years, while a report from McKinsey & Company notes that productivity has stagnated for the past two decades. In contrast, productivity in manufacturing has almost doubled over the same period.
Both reports highlight that the construction industry has been rather slow in adopting current digital tools, a fact that isn’t very easy to explain if you consider how much the sector has benefited from groundbreaking innovations in the past.
Thankfully, as mobile technology continues to advance across all industries, its influence seems to be sipping into construction. In a sector where most workers spend their day traveling between the shop and the job site, it is becoming clear that mobile applications can deliver tangible benefits. According to a survey conducted by Texas A&M, 72 percent of all construction professionals use smartphones at work.
Today, mobile apps are changing the flow and management of construction projects, enabling companies of all sizes to be efficient and cost-effective. With their mobile devices, workers and managers have the means to stick to schedules, improve communication and coordination efforts, track issues and mitigate risk, and perhaps most impactful of all, reduce paperwork.
TEICHERT, a California-based construction company, for instance, leveraged the iBuildApp platform and created a safety mobile application for its business. The app is used out in the field to support its crews with regulatory information, procedures and processes. The app also provides safety professionals contact information.
How Mobile Apps Are Transforming The Construction SectorExperts are deservingly placing mobile app technology among the transformations that will shape the business scene of the future, and that includes construction. Here are five major ways mobile apps are transforming the sector.
1. Effective CommunicationFluid communication is a crucial aspect of construction. The time it takes to relay information between the parties involved can make or break the entire project. Mobile construction technology gives industry players a far more effective mode of communication than traditional means. With collaborative apps, stakeholders can always stay on the same page, and any arising issues are addressed as quickly as they come.
Mobile apps can also streamline how reports flow among workstreams. Personnel on the ground can prepare updates and share them with the project managers via a platform that allows everyone involved to view and make changes in real-time.
With better communication, construction projects can flow much quicker, and costly reworks can be avoided. In a survey conducted by On Center Software, 65 percent of professionals said that rework is the number one cost in a project.
2. Reduced DelaysDelays cost construction companies tremendous amounts of money every year, be it directly through reworks or indirectly by negatively impacting their reputation. Sure, you cannot predict weather conditions or plan for a permit and licensing red table. Still, at the very least, you can organize and sync your operational activities with a delivery app to optimize your scheduling.
If you oversee more than one job site, you can monitor progress simultaneously and gather real-time information to bring issues that might put your projects on hold to light before they become problematic.
3. Increased AccountabilityIn construction, it is the people on the ground that get the job done. Therefore, their productivity counts for a lot more than you might think. Today, construction managers can use mobile apps to track productivity metrics like time spent onsite and leave days. For even further monitoring, the right app can offer a mobile timesheet that records log-in/log-out hours and also give employees a platform to submit their progress by uploading photos and videos of the job site.
Mobile app technology enables project managers to keep track of their labor hours and costs, whether they are working onsite or offsite.
4. Streamlined Project DocumentationThe construction industry is all too familiar with the havoc that is the paper-entry system, having relied on it almost wholly for decades. Thanks to technological advancements, the sector is steadily replacing paper-based models with digital data systems that are both easier to use and manage. In return, companies are getting more efficient and completing more projects on time and within budget.
Mobile apps are seemingly the next step in the digital data transformation journey. A smartphone is all a construction worker needs to record accurate information, be it via text, images, or video, that is not undermined by illegible handwriting and information gaps. Moreover, unlike traditional forms, mobile apps give you the ability to customize documentation and tailor forms to your project, eliminating repetitive and error-prone data management processes.
Real-time reporting also enables personnel to create more detailed reports in real-time, rather than having to prepare a document at the end of a workday. And, by utilizing mobile-based GPS tracking, timestamps and e-signatures, construction workers can provide indisputable audit trails for their projects.
5. Reliable Safety AssuranceThe global construction workforce is enormous. Today, approximately 5.6 million people work in 252,000 construction sites in the U.S. The scary part is that, as reported by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the fatal injury rate for the construction industry is higher than the average for all sectors. It, therefore, goes without saying that managing a construction site comes with a great deal of responsibility for the health and safety of workers.
The good news is that mobile apps for health and safety management exist. A customized app with daily inspection checklists can give project managers a streamlined approach for identifying issues and mitigating risk. At the same time, one with onsite safety compliance capabilities can capture safety observations on a mobile device instantly to serve as official project records. Mobile app capability ensures timely and appropriate management of safety issues, keeping morale high while also strengthening regulatory compliance.
The Future Of Mobile Apps In The Construction SectorIn the global construction industry, 77 percent of megaprojects are around 40 percent behind schedule. Customized construction apps promise to improve this scenario. Whether it is streamlining communication and reducing delays, improving documentation accuracy, ensuring accountability, and promoting on-the-job safety, mobile apps can support virtually all the requirements of a construction business.
For construction companies to remain competitive, they must take advantage of the present and upcoming digital solutions. Going by current indications, identifying and implementing mobile app technology is set to become the backbone for even higher productivity and growth in the future.