Software On The Job Site

By Jeff Williams on Contractor Advice

Software on the job site iAuditorTo Improve Safety – iAuditor

While it’s true that no one cares about a person’s safety more than that person, construction companies are making huge improvements in job site safety. Site specific safety plans, safety audits, and company-wide safety initiatives are common place now days and it’s a good thing.

As a masonry restoration contractor we work almost exclusively on the exterior facades of buildings. Big buildings. Working at heights and occupied buildings is the norm for us. We take the safety of our employees and customers very seriously because if we don’t, we won’t be in business much longer.

One way that we assess a job site in the beginning of the project is with a safety audit. This serves as a checklist for all of the big items that need to be checked off in order to get the project off on the right foot from a safety perspective. For this we use an app called iAuditor. Don’t let the “i” fool you though, it has the same functionality on Android as iOS.

iAuditor lets a user create custom templates that are tailored for the type of work or conditions that may be encountered. On our restoration jobs you can imagine that a significant portion of our checklist pertains to fall protection items. After we asses a site it is turned into a PDF report and copies are sent to all the interested parties. The foreman gets a copy, the project manager gets a copy, the safety director gets a copy.

Checklist items can be assigned weights and thresholds so that level of overall safety can be graded. Annotated images can also be included in the report so that the parties can know what was wrong and how to fix it.

This software has been a huge help in making our sites safer and it may work for yours too.

To Facilitate Clear Communication – Skitch

In today’s modern construction company communication is as important as it has ever been but it is also easier than it has ever been. In masonry restoration I’m often called out to a building by a potential customer to evaluate their building. Why is this leaking, why are the bricks cracked, why is mortar falling out on the ground… you get the idea. For a trained eye the issues stick out like a sore thumb but customers need to be educated. I often take a couple hundred pictures but there’s always a “money shot” or two that really highlights the damage. I use a couple pieces of software to annotate images so that they understand.

To really get that lightbulb moment with a customer it takes more than text, arrows drawn right on a picture really help them to see what I’m talking about. Just like plumbing, in masonry, water runs downhill. Customers don’t necessary understand right away that a flashing issue on the floor above is causing the leak below. Annotated images with arrows help them understand but it also helps to sell the job.Software on the job site - Skitch

For image annotation I use Skitch. Skitch is an app from the Evernote team so you know it’s well thought out and user friendly. You can annotate photos, maps, web pages, pdfs, or free draw. I personally use it to send images to customers but that isn’t the only way to use it.

In masonry, unforeseen conditions are pretty common. Every building is unique and has unexpected things below the surface. When the foreman encounters these things sometimes they need a little clarification or direction from the project manager. They can snap a quick shot on their phone, mark it up, and then send it on to me for clarification. It gets both of us on the same page and eliminates confusion.

Final Thoughts

time managementSoftware on the job site is progressing further and further every day. These three offerings are just a drop in the bucket of the things that can be leveraged to make a project more successful. 3D modeling is an area that is going through a huge growth and adoption stage right now from Sketchup models up through full BIM renderings of buildings before the first ground is even broken. What software/apps have made it to your job sites?


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About the author

Jeff Williams

Writer / Carpenter / Woodworker

Jeff Williams comes from a long line of contractors. His parents started a commercial General Contracting firm many years ago and it has afforded him life-long, hands-on learning opportunities from rough and fine carpentry all the way to structural steel and concrete. He formalized his training by completing a Construction Management degree. Currently he's a carpenter for a commercial General Contracting company specializing in concrete, steel, and wood buildings. For him, nothing beats the thrill of being able to coordinate and successfully manage large projects all the way through to completion. Inspired by the difficulties sometimes encountered to complete punch lists his motto is, "Work hard until the job is done."

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