Keyan Zandy, Technology

Top Tech

October 24, 2018

With the end of the year approaching, COO Keyan Zandy wrote an article for Construction Today’s Magazine on how investing in new technologies can improve your firm’s efficiency. We invite you to read the article below, and also to access the full issue online.

It’s budgeting season, so now’s a great time to think about investing in technology that allows your firm to work more efficiently and collaboratively.

There are many really useful technologies on the market today, and many are surprisingly affordable. Some are tailored to for the construction industry, but others are multipurpose tools that can be applied in innovative ways to reduce labor costs, improve quality or save time.

Finding the most cost-effective technologies takes research, and sometimes some “out-of-the box” thinking. Here are a few quick recommendations that deliver immense value for a small price tag:

1. FLIR ONE Gen 3 – This tiny camera attachment turns any smartphone into a thermal imaging camera for use in building inspections. Thermal images reveal hot spots in electrical cabinets, breaker panels, electrical wiring and can detect electrical problems before they turn critical. They can also locate water infiltration issues or air leaks, such as improperly sealed windows, unsealed seams in curtain walls, which make buildings more energy efficient. Once you have it, you’ll use it for everything – even finding the exact location of plumbing blockages.

2. KNAACK DataVault – The DataVault is a fully protected, digital plan-storage solution for onsite job management. We use these on every project because they save time and money in the long run. Each lockable, portable DataVault contains a 40-inch TV, printer and computer. Ours run ProCore, loaded with all current project drawings and submittals. Trades can print out the detailed information they need on the jobsite, so that everyone works from the most current set of documents.

3. DEWALT DCT100 Jobsite WiFi Access Point – The DeWalt Jobsite WiFi system can extend WiFi coverage across an entire jobsite. Connect one Jobsite WiFi Access Point to a landline in the trailer, and it transmits your WiFi signal to multiple other access points placed around the site. No matter the scale or layout of the jobsite, every access point maintains a clear connection. So whether your DataVault is on a green field site or the fifth floor, everyone will have access to the most current information and drawings, reducing mistakes and rework.

4. DJI Osmo Mobile 2 – This inexpensive gimbal stabilizes smartphone video, letting us take movie-quality video with the high-resolution digital cameras we already have in our pockets. We used to hire a videographer to document our owner training at the end of each job, which created a video reference for use of the buildings’ systems. Now, we can shoot high-quality video ourselves for a fraction of the cost, and deliver more value for our clients.

5. StructionSite – This app-based software  can take images from our 360° cameras – or our tablets or smartphones – and create a virtual walkthrough of our jobsite during construction. The images are directionally intelligent and tied to specific locations within the building, so there is no need for you to label what you are looking at. StructionSite integrates with multiple project management platforms, adding a visual element to help track progress and cost.

6. Ricoh Theta V. 360° – Gone are the days of the painstaking paper punchlist. With a 360-degree camera like the Theta V, you can simply walk into a room in progress, take a 360-degree photo, import it into StructionSite, and drop in “pins” with notes about what corrections need to be made and who needs to make them. As the work gets done, the crew can create new images with new tags and notes for documentation. Taking 360-degree images regularly is an easy way to document a project’s progress, as well as the locations of utilities that will be hidden behind walls and floors.

7. Brinno BCC200 Time Lapse Camera Bundle – The wireless, industrial-grade Brinno BCC200 Time Lapse Camera Bundle comes with weatherproof housing and a clamp that lets you mount it anywhere you have a good view of your jobsite. It creates an instant, HDR time-lapse video of construction progress, giving you and the owner a visual record of what was accomplished each day, as compared to project schedules. Because it documents weather and outdoor conditions that may affect progress, clients can see the cause of any delays. Three minutes of video can document a year of work, and our clients love to watch their projects come to life.

8. DJI Phantom 4 Pro Drone and DroneDeploy – The Phantom 4 produces high-resolution shots from any angle, just like the aerial shots we used to get by helicopter. It can stay in the air for half an hour and sense and avoid obstacles in its path. By using DroneDeploy software, our team uses the images to create 3-D models of the entire jobsite, which are useful for surveys, inspections and construction documentation. Due to the high cost we used to take aerial shots on a monthly basis; now we do them weekly, helping all project stakeholders stay more informed. There are less expensive drones available, but we have found the Phantom 4’s features and quality to be worth the extra cost.

The products listed here offer a lot of bang for your buck, but they’re certainly not the only options out there. Do your homework, and seek out ideas around what’s working for other businesses that could be adapted to yours. Your team will be happy to start the new year with new tools that enhance productivity and deliver better quality, and your clients will notice the added value you offer.