US builders breathed a collective sigh of relief this month as they hailed the end of the housing slump. While some areas are experiencing a slow increase in new builds, others are seeing a sharper improvement with November 2012 seeing as many new single-family homes and apartments being built as July 2008; an increase of 3.6% from the previous month. This increase in activity has caused a labor shortage that innovative builders are overcoming by using tablet computers to streamline their builds.
While the US market improves, the Canadian market is seeing somewhat of a downturn. Whether builders are struggling with labor shortages or tough markets, they have to find innovative ways of reducing costs and increasing productivity in order to compete. Thanks to their portability and increased functionality, tablet computers are revolutionizing the building site.
Overcoming initial problems with short battery life and an inability to see the screens in sunlight, new tablets (like the Motion Tablet PC) are designed especially for use outdoors. Building and project management apps can help with planning and reduce costly mistakes. Plans and amendments are uploaded to the cloud by designers and architects and are instantly accessible to workers onsite. You can use PlanGrid, goBIM, AutoCAD WS or CADTouch R2 to alter plans on the go.
Site management has never been this easy as project management software allows site managers to carefully orchestrate each step of the build. Goods can be ordered and jobs scheduled and changed instantly. When schedules are changed, all the relevant parties are automatically notified. This means that all materials arrive on time and that the building site can be prepared for various trades so that their work areas are ready and safe. Well-planned builds mean no costly delays and more efficient building sites.
Communication is also improved by the use of tablet computers as you can take pictures and videos, share files and plans and communicate via email or chat. Workers are also able to keep in constant contact with the site office and obtaining client approvals is much faster.
At the end of every build, punch-lists are made where inspectors write notes on issues that need to be resolved. Traditionally, rooms had to be numbered and issues listed on plans and written out. With tablet computers, inspectors can simply take pictures of the problem areas, make notes in the field and email them directly to the builder to expedite the inspection process.
Data collection in real time means that building site construction managers are able to gather information that can be utilized to improve operations and streamline building time. This means that you can measure the efficiency of trades and suppliers and make comparisons that really save time and money. For example; data collection can show that while your electrician may undercut the competition with price, they take twice as long to do the job and you are actually paying more than a slightly higher priced competitor would charge.
If you want to streamline your construction site and improve your efficiency, tablet computers with the corresponding apps and software are the best option on the market. A small investment of time and money to implement the use of tablet computers will result in exponential time and money saving.