As technology continues to advance at warp speed, it’s a huge challenge to identify those solutions that can truly benefit you on a job site. To help, here’s a roundup of the latest technologies that can help you stay connected to the people, organizations, and information that can help you succeed, those that help you work smarter, not harder, and those that help keep health and safety a high priority.
When mobile technology came into existence, it was designed for voice communication. Fast forward to 2017 where we use our devices to communicate with others using countless applications, access a wealth of information via the internet, and even connect with others using Global Positioning System (GPS) location. Successful businesses take advantage of these technologies to propel their organization forward.
The first way to use mobile devices to stay connected is via your supplier websites and mobile applications. Ask each supplier what information they have available and you might be surprised. Common offerings include new product information, ordering history, and even safety data sheets. The best part is that you no longer have to carry around reams of paper and the information is always up-to-date.
Staying connected to job sites has gotten easier as well. Most of us have experience with using mapping technology to find a job site initially. Creating custom Google maps to plot out all of your job sites makes tracking projects and assigning teams even easier. Visit Google My Maps (google.com/mymaps) to create maps, including pins at each job site, then share those maps with co-workers and even suppliers for ease of materials delivery.
Finally, GPS technology enables us to share not only addresses of job sites, but also our own personal coordinates with others making it easy to track which staff is at which job site. There are technologies already built into iOS (Find Friends) and Android (Google Maps Share My Location) mobile devices that can track team members. Even better, make use of applications like Pathshare (pathsha.re/#intro) or Hubstaff (hubstaff.com/gps_time_tracking) that work cross-platform and even allow for time tracking. These not only help staff assignments, but also increase accuracy with job costing. Do make sure to establish, communicate, and abide by your organization’s policies when using this type of technology.
When looking for tools to use on-site, the choices can be overwhelming.
I want to point out a few that our industry can easily employ to increase efficiency, decrease error (since geometry may not come easily to all of us), and run projects more successfully. The apps mentioned below are available on iOS and Android platforms.
The first obvious type of app that assists on-site is a calculator/converter. Many exist, and some are comprehensive to the construction industry while others have stair, flooring, or moisture specific calculations. Those pesky angles and area calculations will no longer slow you down!
The next apps help identify and display wood species. Give the following apps a test drive to help not only on the job site, but also with your customers, defining and explaining the species:
Finally, no list of apps would be complete for the industry without mentioning customer and project management tools. Apps abound for this category, especially customer relationship management (CRM). Project apps usually have a cost associated with them. However, there are many free CRM apps, and those below have solid reputations behind them. Evaluate these apps to see if they can help cut costs, paperwork, errors, or increase team efforts, ultimately increasing profits and customer satisfaction.
We’ve also seen incredible advances in health and safety technology. Whether working alone or on a team, from monitoring steps and heart rate, to addressing safety on the job site, there is technology for you. Many fitness trackers track steps and heart rate. But did you know some of these can also track activity/rest periods, sleep patterns, and even deliver calendar reminders, text messages, and emails? Talk about the whole picture of your health.
For job site safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has an expansive website including an online step-by-step Compliance Assistance Quick Start system focused on construction, publications, and up-to-the-minute safety news.
Also in this category is the FallSafety app (iOS and Android), which recognizes a fall and contacts someone for you. On a larger scale, the Construction Safety Compliance app by Safety First Data Systems helps companies maintain a safe work environment, even providing fillable OSHA forms. Finally, many other safety-related apps are available in the marketplace. Do be sure you choose those with recent updates or you may be seeing older regulations.
Although this isn’t a comprehensive listing of all the technology and applications available, these should trigger ideas on how to use technology to stay connected to the people, information, and technology that increases efficiencies, job safety and drives your business forward.
Jodi O’Toole is Director of IT and Web Development at the National Wood Flooring Association in St. Louis. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.