Home » Online Exclusives » Running a Tech-Focused Jobsite

Running a Tech-Focused Jobsite

BY LONNIE FRITZ, HEAVY CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY CONSULTANT
CATERPILLAR INC.

Most contractors agree that project success is largely determined by four factors: time, cost, quality and safety. But there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach. The same is true of technology, in that each company’s journey is unique. This article will help you take a quick look at key areas where technology can make a difference.

GET RID OF THE PAPER TRAIL, DESIGN A DIGITAL ONE
Running from the jobsite to your office or trailer to update, print and distribute information eats up time, one of your most critical resources as a project manager. Stop chasing the paper trail and instead adopt cloud computing. The cloud platform simply means that users with an internet connection and approved access can get “live” information from anywhere. Do you check your email on your smartphone? You’re already using the cloud. Listed below are eight quick ways the cloud can save you time, money and headaches:

1. Rapid decision making as personnel can connect with each other from almost any location.
2. Faster response time to requests for information (RFIs), change orders and purchase orders.
3. Snap and send photos of jobsite activity.
4. Check manufacturers’ instructions.
5. Confirm calculations.
6. Instantly look up specifications and special provisions.
7. Quickly check contracts.
8. Track weather.


In this ever-changing technology landscape, AGC of America is committed to providing its members and chapters with access to the knowledge and skills needed to implement the technologies that are changing our industry. The AGC professional staff implements and supports a wide spectrum of opportunities for member utilization of new technologies and understanding of the best practices.

Working alongside the AGC professional staff are the members of the IT Steering Committee who are up-to-speed on the trends and changes in construction technology and are able to add valuable contributions to AGC’s technology related initiatives. The AGC IT Steering Committee consists of IT leaders from AGC general contractor and service provider membership.

AGC IT Forum Conference
This annual technology conference is the construction industry’s one-stop shop for great discussions and presentations on important technology topics such as emerging technology trends, affordable solutions, cloud computing, security, drones and much more. The 2017 IT Conference will be held in Denver, August 3 – 4, 2017. To get more details on what occurred in Chicago, visit http://meetings.agc.org/itforum/.

For additional information on the technology support AGC provides, contact C. Fara Francis, chief information officer, at francisc@agc.org.


GET YOUR CREW ON THE SAME PAGE, EVEN WITH DIFFERENT DEVICES
Smart devices like phones and tablets let employees access and share information with the tap of a finger. Seventy-two percent of construction contractors use smart phones, while 50 percent use tablets. One contractor found that superintendents using a voice-to-text application could save at least 30 minutes a day in preparing reports. There are a wide number of apps that can be useful for your team in the field; here are some of the most widely used:

• Permit apps (for sending and receiving permits).
• Resource tracking apps (tag assets and monitor their location).
• Inventory apps (monitoring items that are depleted and restocked).
• Fleet tracking apps (monitor vehicle routes & fuel).
• Inspection apps (help speed up walk arounds).
• Safety apps (notification system to alert foremen of problems).
• Resource tracking apps (for documenting and submitting employee hours, progress quantities and other day-to-day activities and metrics).

REDUCE RISKY BUSINESS ON THE WORKSITE
New technologies have become available to safeguard worksites and better manage risk. One in 10 construction workers is injured on worksites every year. One of the most common accidents is being struck or trapped by equipment or vehicles. Blind spots and backing up accidents account for 25–50 percent of the total. These technologies can help prevent such accidents from occurring:

Object Detection technologies
Complete object detection systems include back-up cameras and pulsed-radar object detection. Cameras give operators a view of what is typically their biggest blind spot, and radar identifies objects and people hidden from the operator’s view and sounds an alarm.

Fatigue Detection technologies
Fatigue detection is one of the most recent advancements. A camera installed in the cab monitors pupil size, blinking, and how long eyes stay shut. If the system senses the operator is falling asleep, an alarm sounds and the seat vibrates

“Smart” wearables
Safety gear with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), sensors and bio-monitors have all hit the market within the last several years. The most common are RFID systems that alert workers and equipment operators when they are both moving through a work zone. Wearable devices are now reading heart rates and body temperature to fend off potential medical incidents.

STAY ON TRACK WITH TELEMATICS
Most people can use basic telematics information — machine operating hours, location, fuel consumption — on their equipment to produce measurable improvements in operating costs. Eighty percent of new equipment has telematics built-in, so all that’s required is activation. However, only 17 percent of contractors are using telematics within their projects. Telematics can help optimize utilization because equipment doesn’t get rented when it’s not needed or isn’t parked and forgotten. Most original equipment manufacturers provide apps that allow you to access information via smartphone or tablet, so you can check on equipment condition, fuel burn, idle time or service hours. Also, condition monitoring alerts help control maintenance and repair costs by reducing downtime.

MACHINE CONTROL & AUTOMATION ADDS TO YOUR BOTTOM LINE
The introduction of control technologies for grading, compacting and measuring payload has given construction companies more ways to increase production and enhance operator performance. Productivity and cost-saving advantages come primarily from:

• Improved accuracy of machine-guided buckets and blades.
• Increased accuracy of automated “assist” features that make the operator faster and more consistent.
• Reduced man hours because fewer workers are needed to check progress/complete jobs.
• Elimination of rework, tasks are completed right the first time.
• Fewest passes achieve proposed grade efficiently.
• Optimal number of passes reach compaction target(s) without over or under compacting.
• Reduced cycle times and machine wear due to payload technologies eliminating over and under loading of hauling units.
• Increased safe operation because operators are more aware of activities and individuals around them.
• Data-driven estimating and planning that accelerates payback periods
on technology investments.

The faster you recognize technology as an essential part of your operation, the faster you will begin to see a difference on your worksites and your bottom line.