Mobile applications of all types are playing an increasingly important role in our lives with each passing day. People don’t write down purchases in check registries anymore – they use smartphone apps. People don’t watch television at home – they catch up with all of their favorite shows on their phones or tablets through streaming apps on their own terms. This new level of digital convenience has permeated nearly all areas of our culture. It is also creeping into the construction industry in a number of interesting ways.
MOBILE APPS: THE EFFICIENCY BREAKTHROUGH BUSINESSES HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR
One of the most interesting ways that the construction industry has been using mobile applications has to do with making project management easier than ever before. By its very nature, such a huge component of successful project management involves information collection. In order to see what still needs to be done, a project manager needs to be up-to-date on which employees are performing which functions at any given time.
With mobile apps that operate on cloud-based technology, however, the “geography” is no longer one of the biggest obstacles for a construction project manager. Pictures taken of a remote job site by “Employee A” are automatically made available to “Employee B,” “C” and “D” right from their mobile devices. Actionable proposals can be submitted, accepted or rejected in seconds – all while the project manager is out of the office. Collaboration in general isn’t just easier, but it’s instantaneous. With the right mobile app, a real-time stream of information from each team member is immediately available to everyone else, always keeping everyone on the same page regarding what is happening and what still needs to be done.
Another way that mobile applications are creeping into the construction industry has to do with asset management. Many asset tracking systems are using a combination of RFID tags and mobile applications to allow contractors to quickly locate equipment and keep accurate and up-to-date inventories at all times. Because a scanned RFID tag feeds directly into a cloud-based database via the mobile application, you are always aware of where certain mission-critical assets are, how they’re being used and even who is using them.
This technology can benefit nearly every department within a construction company. From an accounting perspective, finance professionals can now see which assets are being used, can identify certain trends and can even view a detailed history regarding asset activities. The IT department can access a real-time stream of information regarding usage, allowing them to see which items need to be serviced and which are probably not as necessary as you thought they were.
THE MOBILE REVOLUTION AND THE INTERNET OF THINGS
Another one of the ways that mobile applications are creeping into the construction industry has to do with the Internet of Things and the increase in smart devices in both home and business capacities over the last several years. One of the best examples of this are heating and cooling systems that feature Internet-connected thermostats that can be controlled remotely.
By installing the right app on your mobile device, you suddenly have complete control over the temperature of your business even when you’re out of the office. You can easily increase or decrease the temperature right from your phone with the same ease that you could if you were standing right in front of it. This type of automation also extends to programming certain temperatures for certain times in the name of energy efficiency. You can automatically turn down the heat in your business overnight during the winter, for example, when you know that everyone is going to be out of the office. It can then automatically increase again during the day before everybody arrives for work in the morning.
One of the most exciting things about mobile applications in the construction industry is that what we’re seeing now is really only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. In just a few short years mobile apps have already revolutionized everything from energy efficiency to asset management to the ease at which people can collaborate on a job site. It really is incredible to think about the benefits that mobile applications will bring to our lives in five or even ten years from now.