Like most industries, construction has been largely transformed by mobile technology. After all, this is a business whose decision-makers and front-line workers are heavily dispersed, yet they must collaborate (often in real-time) on high-dollar projects with tight deadlines and budgets, with many interdependencies and moving parts. The ability to connect those in the construction industry and provide instant access to back-end data, plans, procurement and models is empowering a wave of productivity across the supply chain and, to the benefit of builders, architects, engineers and subcontractors alike.
According to Autodesk, 75 percent of construction dollars are spent in the field, yet less than 10 percent of technology spending is allocated there. Companies rely on sophisticated software to manage the end-to-end construction process, and now, mobile devices are the primary method for gaining remote access to business-critical systems and information. Consequently, construction companies are extending the footprint of their in-house technology investments to improve communications, decision-making and response times in the field.
Mobile devices are helping deliver efficiencies across the following construction industry practices:
- Project & Field Management – Smartphones and tablets are helping manage the entire lifecycle of a construction project, connecting the various people responsible for the information, processes, employees, subcontractors and suppliers. And because mobile devices come in many different flavors and with enterprise-management capabilities, different users are armed with the most appropriate devices and feature sets for their job requirements.
- Communications & Connectivity – Feature phones and smartphones are being used to facilitate instant voice, text and email communications between jobsite workers and the main office. Push to Talk (PTT) capabilities also empower workers, subcontractors and suppliers with one-touch walkie-talkie style communications for instant communications to individuals or groups about safety conditions, deliveries, change requests and other time-sensitive events.
- Materials & Resource Management – Materials are often procured and purchased at the corporate office, but supplies are delivered directly to the jobsites. As construction companies increasingly leverage Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for improved materials management, mobile devices can help automate this process with on-the-ground scanning capabilities and the ability to trigger instant notifications in the event of order shipment errors. In addition, these devices can provide project managers with remote-surveillance camera access to keep watch on potential theft or employee productivity when they are absent from job sites.
Rugged Devices Maximize Mobility Investments
Construction personnel at all levels are tapping mobile devices to improve communications and streamline efficiencies across the planning, designing and building phases of projects. A study by Engineering News Record estimates that 93 percent of general contractors and 87 percent of subcontractors use some sort of mobile device at construction sites.
These devices come in many flavors to accommodate virtually every type of worker and organizational budget. Feature phones and smartphones offer the greatest portability for laborers and their feature sets can be customized to user type, while larger-screen devices provide the convenience of a data-friendly display and are ideal for superintendents and project managers who require remote access to plans and 3D models, and who are more likely to interface regularly with back-end business systems.
Despite both the user and device type, rugged design is one requirement that should be inherent to every mobile device used in the construction industry. Along with support for virtually all Android-based productivity apps, Kyocera’s rugged devices are intentionally built to withstand construction jobsite conditions, which may include dusty, dirty, wet environments, as well as the threat of drops from heights. Kyocera’s rugged line is also designed with superior audio technology to facilitate loud, crisp and clear voice communications, even in the presence of noisy equipment and machinery.
Additional features offered by Kyocera’s rugged devices include:
- Dust-proof and impact-resistant to maintain optimal performance and operational integrity;
- Waterproof with the ability to survive immersion in up to 6 feet of water for up to 30 minutes;
- Highly-durable, scratch-resistant Sapphire Shield display in select devices that protects against incidents and the elements;
- Continuous productivity with Glove and Wet Touchscreen Operation;
- Certified non-incendive (Nonincendive, Class I, Division 2, Group A-D, T4) for use in some hazardous work environments where concentrations of flammable gases, vapors, or mists are not normally present in explosive concentrations but may exist
- Certified to IP68 and Military Standard 810G ratings for dust, shock, vibration, temperature extremes, high altitude, solar radiation, humidity and water emersion; and
- Off-the-shelf support for both carrier-supported and downloadable PTT services to facilitate one-touch walkie-talkie style communications to individuals or groups.
According to VDC Research, rugged devices can save 46 percent on overall total cost of mobility in the workplace. Mobile devices enable project managers to remotely oversee multiple projects in various stages of construction, and arm every front-line worker with voice and/or data connectivity. With the ability to share videos, images and information between the construction office and field workers, companies benefit from improved workflows based on the most current data available. And when these organizations choose to go rugged, they are afforded increased longevity and reliability from the mobile devices deployed in the field.