Software doesn’t disrupt construction work, it improves productivity
I keep hearing a lot from contractors that here comes another piece of software that will make our day even harder. Can’t we just do the work and leave all the gadgets and software aside? Actually, no, because they help us with our daily tasks and increase productivity. Let’s see some great examples of how software has changed our daily lives on construction sites.
2D and 3D drawings
I still remember when I first used AutoCAD; it was back in 2002. I also remember that, back in those days, universities were selling and giving away old drawing boards. It was mind-blowing that you could draw a line and, with one click, erase it. Before that, drawers were using thick papers, and some drawers were cutting out the line with sharp knives.
Today, we can’t imagine our work without AutoCad. In fact, if someone stepped into the office and took away all laptops, work would be suspended. Autocad has opened new possibilities for how to build because it has become much easier to test and try different models before building something.
Because of computer aided design, we can test the limits. Machines communicate with computers and can make products with zero tolerance. Bridges and buildings can be built with unusual shapes. It is possible to test buildings against loads, how they will stand, and so on, before building them.
Design approval and document management
When I first started in the construction industry, I remember that construction containers and offices were always full of folders, drawings, and documents, some of which were signed and some of which weren’t. Many businesses and people had to confirm each drawing. It was time consuming to receive those signatures because, without them, contractors couldn’t start the work. Today, there are so many cloud platforms where those drawings and documents are stored. Everyone who needs them can have access to them and sign them or disapprove if necessary. All the approval of documents can be done instantly
There are now lots of ways that people in construction communicate. But using the right tools, an engineer and site worker can be in two different places in the world and fix errors on a change instantly. I see many using FaceTime video calls, where the site manager can show the problem and the engineer in the office can go through the drawings and look for the error and possible solution instantly.
This niche is not yet organized as well as others because most of the contractors still rely on Gantt charts, which were used in the 19th century, by the way. And this is where I hear that most contractors are whining: here comes another scheduling tool. Indeed, there are lots of scheduling tools that use Kanban or Gantt chart type schedules. The problem is that Gantt charts must be updated daily and never give any clear picture of what actually happens, and Kanban boards were designed by Toyota for production, not construction.
More often, I see scheduling tools that use AI. Where contractors can type how much work was done and software does the rest. It computes and gives you an output of when the work will be finished, how much time you need for each task, etc. Also very soon, we will see a feature where the site manager, after finishing his shift, will be able to walk through the site with a special camera, which will then schedule work for you!
When do you have too much software?
Every piece of software is built because there is a need for it. Someone was struggling with something, and software helped fix that. I have seen many contractors whining about Here comes another piece of software, but after some usage, they can’t live without it anymore. But whenever employees are still complaining or not using the software properly, it is probably unnecessary. Software can’t fix all the problems. For example, I never suggest PlanUpPro for general contractors because it is designed only for trade contractors. It would be a waste of time and money for them. Instead, they can look for alternatives like Procore or any other software designed for general contractors.
Is it us, or is the software not helping?
Change is hard and difficult. Even when I find something new, I start to think that it is complicated and probably not worth my time. But in most cases, my first thoughts are wrong. Most of the software we already have in our lives helps us daily, and we couldn’t imagine our daily lives without it. Lately, the latest AI advancements have revolutionized all industries, and we will see more and more great software that will help us with our daily tasks.