Construction apps evolving into essential tools

Jobsite Tablet ComputerIf you’ve seen the June issue of Equipment World, you might have noticed I included some of the latest construction apps in Reporter, our news section.

These apps were just a few of the newest offerings out there; I wish we had the room to run more. Even if you don’t see articles about them, keep in mind there are new construction-friendly, if not construction-specific, apps developed every day – and some might be a useful addition to your smartphone or tablet.

Although there have been a handful of useful apps related to the industry available for some time, they’ve generally been fairly simple, like measuring tools and basic calculators. While these apps were handy, they didn’t necessarily offer the user a huge benefit in saving either cost or time, or dramatically boost efficiency. As platforms – and app developers – evolved, however, it was only a matter of time until we started seeing not only apps that could be adapted for use on the jobsite, but also purpose-built apps tailored to specialized needs. For example, have you seen PlanGrid? It’s a cloud-based service that enables field personnel to view blueprints as PDFs on a tablet, as well as make modifications. Not only does the app eliminate the hassle of tracking down the paper versions of the project drawings, it eliminates some of the huge printing costs contractors typically incur producing multiple sets.

One of the best ways you can use apps to improve your bottom line is through mobile card readers. Why wait for payment for 30, 60 or even 90 days if you can swipe a credit card on the spot? Sister mag ProPickup runs down mobile payment applications in their latest issue – you can even tailor a plan to your needs.

You’re probably already using a variety of apps not designed for construction to assist you throughout the day. Look for innovative new apps you can use on the job. For example, are you looking for more efficient ways to talk to your people in the field? You can ditch the two-way radios and use an app to not only communicate with your people, but also coordinate. Although not designed specifically for construction, Lua bills itself as the best way for mobile workforces to collaborate, and construction, after all, is one of the best examples out there of a mobile workforce. The app includes an interactive directory, comprehensive messaging and the ability to push documents to your entire team.

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Of course, lots of manufacturers are developing apps specific to their product lines, including DeWalt, ESAB, Calculated Industries, Vela, Miller and many more. If you’re using a manufacturer’s equipment, find out if they have an app that can help you work smarter, faster or more efficiently. As apps continue to evolve and mature, stay aware of what’s out there. Search “construction” in your app store occasionally to see if there’s something new and useful. If you’re not using apps for work yet, but would like to, here’s a list to get you started.