Technology – Just Another Tool in the Gang Box

By Daniel White

Today’s construction industry is rapidly moving into the technological age. Twenty-five years ago, it was unheard of to have a computer on the jobsite. At that time the cell phone and fax machine were just making its way onto projects leaving the two-way radios on the charging stations and eliminating trips to the post office to get your weekly paperwork turned in.

Fast forward to today. As projects move along at lightning speed, it is essential that technology is used on the jobsite to maintain constant and real time communication with the main office along with the design teams. Believe me this is no easy task. Try and ask builders to throw away the light table to overlay drawings, paper blueprints, hard copy specification books, two-way radios, file cabinets and not to mention the countless project tools that are piling up in tradesmen’s garages. A true definition of resistance from most of our seasoned builders.

We are now putting smart phones or tablets in every project superintendent’s hand allowing up to the minute documentation and communication. These devices can carry around a set of contract documents, record daily activity, take photographs, find product data, calculate quantities and much more. The challenge to these devices is getting them into the tool belt. My generation of builders prefers to hang onto field journals and delegate the technological tasks to the younger staff. Thankfully Welliver recognizes that by training and proper support, we can achieve this transformation into the twenty-first century.

Devices and programs are becoming more user friendly every day, exposing the ease of accomplishing our daily, weekly, and monthly routines. A daily report can be generated in minutes along with photos and the days weather attached, without spending countless hours in the job trailer after all the crews have gone home for the day. Drawings and details can be accessed at any location on the project rather than finding where the foreman left the field set of drawings. And who really has a specification book on site anyway? Well, we do today!

Documentation plays a key role in project safety also. Identifying hazards, documenting them, transmitting them, and correcting them all in a matter of minutes rather than days can save lives and injury. These tools can communicate instantly. Looking up MSDS sheets in seconds rather than walking to the office and looking through countless binders only to find out the product data you are looking for was never placed in the contractor’s safety plan. Communicating with a photo can also save precious time when it comes to maintaining a safe work environment.

Accurate construction documents can be maintained through project management software and into the field instantly, an essential factor saving time, resources, and money. There is a fairly new form of coordination making its way onto the jobsite and off the designer’s plan table – Building Information Modeling (BIM). This technology can identify challenges and clashes way before putting a shovel into the ground. It also helps visualize the end product so the client can make decisions quickly to keep the project moving forward. This too is just a click away on site.

I know we never have enough time or resources in today’s construction environment to accomplish what feels like impossible deadlines but take it from a builder that’s now into my fourth decade, technology is filling in those gaps. Click on my fellow builders!

Leveraging long-term professional relationships with his clients, Dan brings significant experience and expertise in construction, scheduling, field engineering, commissioning, and management leadership. Dan’s expertise truly lies in transitioning a project from concept to construction and is considered the “go to” person when it comes to strict schedule, budget, and quality management. He is well versed in the rigorous process that complex projects require at all phases of construction. Dan can be reached at [email protected].