Technology is rapidly changing the construction landscape. Here, we’re sharing stories of how contractors are using it to grow in leaps and bounds.
Introducing the Smart Construction Series — a recurring feature in HCSS newsletters this year that explores the common stages of technology adoption so you can see how you measure up to the competition and how you can improve.
These are stories of efficiency, automation, and smarter processes. But they’re also about so much more. At the core of it all is a call to bring your people and information together. To empower your workers at all levels. To build trust and ownership. Because software and hardware are essential to modernizing your business, but it’s the way you use them that makes all the difference.
Let’s start in the field, where the most dynamic changes are occurring as contractors shift from a top-down management approach to a field-first focus.
Simply put, contractors fall behind when their foremen spend too much effort recording events from yesterday or last week.
The foreman of yesterday is a hard worker and likely a skilled leader whose talents are wasted on paperwork. That’s right — there are companies out there that still rely on pen and paper to capture time, then make a daily or weekly trek from the field to the office to hand off the numbers for a payroll clerk to re-enter. Aside from being a waste of time, this prevents both the field and the office from knowing how the job is really doing until the accounting team is able to disseminate reports, which is often weeks later.
Today, the average foreman is connected to the office. He uses a tablet or laptop that not only simplifies time entry but also provides instant and accurate insight into job health.
As we near the 20th anniversary of HeavyJob, HCSS knows better than most how long this transition has been in the works.
But the thing is, digital time cards and daily performance insight no longer provide the competitive advantage they once did.
Now, they merely equate to holding steady against the competition.
So what does the foreman of tomorrow look like? He learns from yesterday and controls the events of today, but he also plans for tomorrow. Past data becomes a means to improve future performance.
Using smart tools like the HeavyJob Production Planner, foremen can predict production, cost, and resource requirements before work begins each day. That means adjustments can be made proactively to ensure the project stays on schedule and budget. This benefits everyone — from superintendents to operations to owners — as they can know what to expect and forecast jobs accurately and confidently.
Jay Adair, IT Business Manager for Petticoat-Schmitt Civil Contractors in Jacksonville, Fla., said his company has recently started using HeavyJob’s Production Planner to forecast future work. Previously, his foremen had to guess how much work they could complete based on work experience and general knowledge.
“Before, the guys would say, ‘I’ve been doing this for a long time. I know what needs to get done,’” Adair said. “But when you take the real-world data and analyze it, there’s a difference between what you think and what really happens. While they may think they’re hitting the mark, they may be missing something important. But now they’re putting that data into the app and getting real-time analysis.”
The foremen enter their tasks for the next day or week based on the crews being used and their historical production, then the superintendents review the plan to make sure it looks achievable.
“We’re in the early stages of figuring out just how much impact this has, but we’re starting to see good signs,” Adair said. “The guys
using it are starting to show improvement on not going over budget and time.”