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PJune 30, 2014

Top 3 Construction Apps of the Trade

photoIn our line of work, anticipation and preparation can be the difference between doing the work right one time, and going back to fix issues.  As schedules become more aggressive, we need to stay agile and search out solutions to speed up our response time without sacrificing quality.

The technology startup boom has finally come to the construction industry.  While usually an industry lagging in technology prowess (anyone else still using fax machines?), nimble apps have enabled our smartphones and tablets to become valuable tools in our toolboxes.  There are always new construction apps coming out, but here are a few that are tried, tested and embraced by EDiS employees.

1.  BuildingBlok – Project Collaboration and Document Storage

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BuildingBlok is EDiS’ online project management software.  It links together the project team, clients, architects and engineers, and contractors, providing real-time documentation and communication.  In our experience, we can get problems solved and questions answered much faster with BuildingBlok.  That means the time spent in the field is on installation and quality control plans, not on chasing down RFIs and submittal information

2.  Dropbox – File Backup and Sharing.

dropbox-logo1When we started down the path of the paperless office several years ago, one thing became glaringly apparent-immediate access to information was vital for project success.  That meant everyone working together on storing, scanning, organizing and backing up project data. In the office, a central fileserver met our needs.  In the field, it was a different story.  Internet connections that were spotty at best, backup systems that required constant attention and dirt and dust from the jobsite created some tough conditions that required a different solution.  Dropbox has answered all of our concerns.  Through offline access to documents and background syncing we were able to leverage this small startup (now valued at over $10B) to focus our attention back onto the construction at hand.  We were confident that our documents were always accessible and backed up safely.  Later enhancements including folder sharing, an iOS app, and company-wide admin tools have only proved that Dropbox is an excellent storage solution.

3.  PlanGrid – Real Time Document Markup

plangridNow that our project teams are in sync and the documents are safe and easily accessible in the office and the field, we looked to convert other analog systems to digital.  One of those systems is marking up drawings.  The old way of using a red pen to highlight discrepancies or questions, and making a copy to fax to the office was way too cumbersome in today’s fast paced climate.  The easy solution would be to jot down notes in the field, head back to the trailer, open up a PDF editor on the computer, make the annotations, and send an email.  That certainly works.  But the better solution is PlanGrid.  PlanGrid is a web and iPad app that puts your PDF drawings on your tablet for easy markup and sharing.  The key to its success lies in its simplicity.  Once the drawings are loaded and stored in the PlanGrid cloud, anyone on the project team can markup on their iPad using their finger and intuitive tools for text, highlighting and annotating.  PlanGrid has allowed us to markup and send questions from the field, and eliminated the extra time wasted by copying notes from a notebook, to the computer.

EDiS employees are always on the lookout for ways to sharpen our ax and deliver the best project experience possible.  Have you used any of the apps above?  Feel free to comment with your experiences and suggestions of other tools you use to help make projects successful.

For more information, contact us today!

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