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Construction Project Managers Go Mobile September 1, 2010

Posted by carolhagen in communication, Construction Industry - Software, iPhone, Payroll Time Collection, project management software.
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Update September 27, 2010: Project Manager views Job Alerts on iPad using Corecon Mobile

Update: Project Manager uses iPhone to access construction documentation

Construction Project Managers main line of communication is their mobile device. Whether it’s texts, emails or phone calls your smartphone has become the primary tool of the trade. What’s missing? Applications designed to improve collaboration that you can navigate efficiently on your cell phone or iPad. Today I want to introduce you to what I suspect will be a best friend to homebuilders, architects, engineers, and commercial contractors and subcontractors. The Corecon Mobile solution. This is part one in a series of 5 posts on what construction project managers want access or update on a job when they are out of the office.

To be clear, Corecon is something that my firm markets to the construction industry and I believe that they’ve hit the nail on the head. First it won’t matter which smartphone you have. Corecon Mobile will work on all these devices:

* Apple – iPhone
* Apple – iPad
* Blackberry
* Google – Android
* Microsoft – Windows Mobile
* Palm – Palm OS

Wait, you did read that correctly…the iPad too. Corecon is a web-based estimating, project management and scheduling system that has managed to roll-out mobile apps at no cost to the Corecon client. No need for virtual servers, or IT staff to keep Corecon running. They believe in value and have delivered. So what areas of the Corecon system have they included in their first Mobile deployment? The list is impressive:

Construction project management on iPhone with Corecon Mobile

iPhone 3G Project Menu

Contact Management

* Companies
* Contacts

Project Leads

* Leads Listing
* Lead Directory
* Bid Calendar

Projects

* Project Directory
* Alerts
* Documentation
o Checklists
o Daily Log
o Meetings
o Owner Items
o Permits
o Punchlists
o Safety Accidents
* Correspondence
o Comply Notices
o Journals
o RFIs
o Submittals
o Transmittals
o Work Orders
* Time Entry
* Schedules
o Tasks
* Financials

All this with no need to install anything extra on your device. Just access to the internet and a subscription to Corecon. The mobile portion is free. In essence Corecon delivers value to their customers and their smartphones. Here’s a Comply Notice screenshot to wet your whistle.

HTC EVO 4G screen shot of Comply Notice using Corecon Mobile

Comply Notice on the HTC EVO 4G


Tune in tomorrow for more. Over the next few days we’ll be showcasing more than screen shots with actual video of just how easy it is to access, create, update and share these documents from the device of your choice. We’d like to hear what you think about the evolution of technology for managers in the field and on the go.

Update: Blackberry used by Project Manager to access contact directory in Corecon Mobile V7:

I should also mention that Corecon has a fabulous integration to Quickbooks, SAP and Simply Accounting so contractors won’t need to rekey the data and worry about transposing errors. Smaller firms can have all their accounting, estimating, project managmeent and scheudling in the Cloud so the overhead for fancy PCs, backups and loading updates is over. The future has arrived!

What has your construction firm been using your smartphone for other than email and phone calls? Leave comments and share this with others.

Lean Construction, Payroll and Equipment Tracking July 8, 2010

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, Construction Industry Hardware, Equipment Tracking, Lean Construction, Payroll Time Collection.
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Lean Construction has been a hot topic for the past few years and is still gaining momentum. Recently representatives of Mortenson spoke at a NAWIC Greater Phoenix Chapter meeting and discussed renewable energy (showcasing a wind farm project in Hawaii) and how lean construction practices have improved productivity and their bottom line. Since I just happened to attend the 2010 CFMA National Convention in Kona last week, I was able to see the wind mills in person. But I also had the opportunity to peruse the vendor exhibits at convention and found a tool that may solve multiple construction problems in one fell swoop…TeraHop.

TeraHop screen view tracking people

TeraHop in action - tracking people

TeraHop Networks Inc provides On-Site asset monitoring without using satellite or cellular subscriptions. They call their solution the Construction Asset Monitoring System or CAMS for short. With Portable Data Collectors (PDCs) acting as local sensors and network routers, they track the movement of assets and create hopping paths to other PDCs and directly with TeraHop’s Wireless Data Uplink (WDU). The WDU holds the collected data until it is able to upload to a server via wireless or ethernet interface. WDUs also have a GPS receiver to permit localization of PDCs in the network. The WDU generated information from the site-wide data can be viewed from a computer or smartphone at the site or any other location with a wireless connection. So what can they track? Equipment, vehicles, inventory, tools and personnel…basically anything that moves on your jobsite!

After talking with representatives it dawned on me that contractors using this technology are collecting information often gathered when beginning a lean evaluation. Tracking the steps of employees then asking why and what were you doing is one of the best ways to minimize waste and eliminate mistakes, the two mantras of LEAN. Since you can also redeploy you can revisit a jobsite after making lean improvements in task assignments that were to “save steps”, analyze the improvements and adjust again if necessary…a continuous improvement method in Lean. Now add this to the DataMaxx solution and you have streamlined, accurate time collection for payroll processing, inventory tracking and equipment run-time.

Since CAMS can monitor equipment and vehicles, the ability to reduce excessive engine idle time (which impacts fuel costs and equipment wear) is a common by-product from the collected data analysis. Knowing actual equipment run-time will help manage preventative maintenance schedules, eliminate too frequent or late maintenance, and decrease the cost of ownership. You can use this on the jobsite or in your yard to make your fleet managers job easier.

All these process improvements add up, make lean construction worthwhile and more profitable. If you’ve used the TeraHop system or something like it, I’d like you to share your experiences in the comments with my readers. If you think this is a good idea but have reservations, ask me questions. I’ll get TeraHop to respond quickly if I get stumped.

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