People in the construction industry are aware of the industry’s inefficiencies, but few found ways to improve antiquated management processes until new technologies entered the market.
Two technologies leading the change in how construction projects are completed are mobile internet access and the tablet. In a recent news item posted by Apple, one Texas construction company claims to have saved $1.8 million and many hours of project work by using the iPad. The two technologies allow for all the documents or information needed to manage a construction project can be at the fingertips of the project manager while in the field.
The tablet and mobile internet in and of themselves haven’t changed how the construction industry is changing, but they have led the way for a plethora of new apps that target parts of the construction management process and allow for in-field use, more instant communication and shorter project times.
R.W. Tomlinson, based out of Ottawa, uses Oracle’s Primavera P6 project management software. Project manager for the company’s heavy civil division, Graziela Girardi, talks about some of the benefits of the technology after using it to complete the 417 highway construction project near Ottawa.
“Priamavera P6 helps me manage a project from start to finish. The key success in managing a job is to keep the project on track. To ensure the project stays on track, it is crucial to review the project progress on a regular basis,” says Girardi.
Primavera has the ability to show the construction project, as well as a baseline (established using historical data) in order to confirm the project is progressing on time or to highlight the gaps between project timelines and work complete, advises Ray McEntee, director of product strategy at Oracle.
Built-in analysis, dashboards and reporting tools allow project managers to make more informed and more timely decisions. The technology promotes social collaboration, so project teams can communicate more effectively.
The ability to communicate instantly and with the right people is essential to cutting time and costs on a construction project. On the 417 highway rehabilitation project, Girardi had to manage several operations simultaneously, including a paving crew, a structural crew, two to three grading crews and a grinding crew. The grinding work was provided by a subcontractor.
With this many stakeholders, instant communication was essential. “Communicate with the team regularly, and make sure everybody is in the loop; provide frequent status updates and address any problems before they occur,” says Girardi. “What one person does can affect another person working 15 kilometres behind him. You have to have one communication point. Communication is key to managing a large job.”
Mike Clark, president of Clark Construction agrees on the importance of instant communication and is thrilled with what digital project management tools, such as Procore can do. Based out of Mono, Ontario, Clark Construction is currently using the software on The One – 1 Bloor St. West in Toronto – the tallest tower in Canada.
“With Procore, we can initiate all the meeting minutes,” says Clark. “We had a meeting with a very high-profile tenant; we meet with them on a weekly basis. After the meeting, we could upload the meeting minutes with all applicable attachments and send them out to everyone on the meeting minutes distribution team. Before Procore, by the time you had someone decipher the hand-written notes and transcribe onto a computer, be sent to someone to vet, be sent to someone else for attachments, and then send it out, it could take five days to get meeting minutes.”
Mizrahi Developments is also working on The One tower construction. The company’s vice president, Josh Lax, describes how Procore has improved communications between the trades and the consulting engineer. “It has empowered trades people to raise issues, make commentaries and communicate directly with our engineers and that solutions has really expedited the site condition and change response – the time it takes to log an issue, tie it to a geographical place, tie it to the drawings, tie it to an actual picture of what’s going on, have the engineer review it, comment on it and sent back all the while the central office can watch everything that’s going on.
“With Procore, our staff can take a picture of a drill rig or the bars that go into the reinforcement cages, send it to the structural engineer with a message about the caissons and the structural engineer can look at the bar and bar sizes in the photo and decide whether we can pour or not without even coming on site. That’s happened many times. ‘Is this what you want. Yes, that’s what I want. No. That’s not what I want.’ The technology is a cost cutter.”