Twitter Keeps Construction Crews Connected

A construction company's Twitter feed eases communication between employees in the field

Michel Concrete Construction, Inc., Springfield, Ill., has found an innovative way to keep its management staff and field supervisors connected using the social media website Twitter. In 2009, Michel Concrete President and CEO Mary Wilson started using Twitter's ability to reach multiple people in a fast, convenient and unobtrusive way to communicate jobsite information between office staff, management and field supervisors. Replacing the two-way radios of the past and working as an alternative to multiple phone calls or text messages, employees at Michel Concrete can get a message out to everyone with one Tweet.

"If there's a mistake and someone ends up with an extra 6 yards at the end of a pour, with one Tweet we can quickly find out if another crew can utilize that concrete, instead of throwing it away," Mary explains. "Twitter also allows employees to have a group conversation across multiple jobsites and conveniently alleviate any questions regarding trucking, schedules and other logistics."

Management and field supervisors are equipped with iPhones in the field, giving them access to the Michel Concrete Twitter feed from anywhere. If an employee is on a phone call or in a meeting with a customer, he or she can respond to any questions when it is convenient. And if an employee misses a day of work, catch-up can start with a quick read of the Twitter feed.

Mary currently allows only her management team to participate in the company Twitter feed. "Management tweets are not always appropriate for employees, and at times there are so many tweets that everyone on a crew stopping to view these irrelevant messages would interfere with productivity," she says.

Other uses for cell phones on the jobsite
The age of smartphones has simplified communication in the field for many contractors. Beyond its use of Twitter, Michel Concrete's use of iPhones in the field also includes the Construction Master Pro construction calculator app from Calculated Industries and The Weather Channel app. "This one is big," Mary says, "because it allows supervisors to get up-to-the-minute, in-motion radar pictures from anywhere."

The ability to take photos in the field is also helpful for a documentation standpoint. "I use my iPhone all the time to document information from the field," Mary says. "I am able to snap a few pictures of site conditions and job progress and text those to others. It's much easier to explain a situation with a picture than with words, especially when texting."

You can read a profile article about Michel Concrete Construction from the June/July 2011 issue of Concrete Contractor magazine.