Essential Apps for iPad in the Construction Field
I recently had correspondence with someone planning to roll out a number of iPads in a construction business. At CMBSC, we use iPads and iPhones in the field extensively. I have tried many different apps on my iDevices and thought to review which of those apps have become the essentials we rely on.
These apps are absolute must-have utilities for managing, sharing, converting and producing files of various formats within the iOS environment.
Dropbox is my preferred tool for managing all document files that need to be shared or that you may wish to access from multiple devices. Dropbox for iOS is free and allows opening, saving and sharing all types of files with ease. We make shared jobsite folders for all our projects including all related drawings, daily logs, inspections and a myriad of other project documents.
You can find Dropbox in the App Store here for free: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dropbox/id327630330?mt=8
Continue reading iPad Apps For Construction
CrewKeeper 1.30 update submitted for Apple review this week.
Expect to see it in iTunes App Store within a few days.
Now with data sync to all your devices. CrewKeeper is updated to a universal application supporting iPad and iPhone native interface. This has been a long time coming and no trivial undertaking. The stage is now set for some really big changes to the CrewKeeper user experience.
I am still convinced that the iPhone is the best format for entry and daily documentation. I prefer real time incremental data entry through the course of the work day. This is so much a priority in my mind that I have built into CrewKeeper some road blocks to “coax” users away from other options. CrewKeeper reports, comments and status updates notably and purposely omit the option to back date entries. Inspections and safety meetings are not able to be created if the user is not on a jobsite.
The idea is a digital equivalent of the bound jobsite diary without the ability to insert pages after the fact to manipulate the data. I am convinced that this philosophy helps to train my users to do a better job and results in more trustworthy documentation.
The iPad, on the other hand, is certainly a valuable option for more in depth reference. iPad compatibility can extend the capabilities of CrewKeeper to more comprehensive note taking and reports organization. The pending update primarily brings in iCloud sync capability. This is just the first step. It was a lot of work, long time testing, and likely will require some follow up fixes and refinement going forward. But now, I can move on to some really exciting new features and extensions I have been experimenting with based on users’ feedback as well as my own wish lists.
I look forward to input from users when the update goes live. Future updates should be coming now at a much more frequent pace, keep informed of the latest by following here or at Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. See links in sidebar.
Generally, I find the iPad to be clumsy and unsuited for use out in the field. It’s just too big and awkward to carry around in my opinion. When I do bring my iPad out of my truck, I am constantly laying it down and sure to leave it behind. Even when I have it nearby, my first instinct is always to reach in my pocket for my iPhone when I have a need to be connected. This doesn’t mean the iPad is not a valuable tool for me, I find many ways that it can enhance my productivity in the course of the work week while out in the field.
What inspired me to write this post is my recent foray into creating a crane lift diagram for a crane lift plan on a jobsite last week. Using a drawing app (I can recommend iDraw which is what I used) I imported a photo of the site plan encompassing the area that we’d be working in. I used that photo as a background, added another for the crane placement. Whipped up some representations of the materials we were lifting and copy/pasted a table of the sequence of lift operations with weights and capacities.
You can see the result here- Example Lift Diagram.
This whole process took me very little time and I was still learning to use the tools. Once I have saved a few reusable shapes and refined my technique, I can see turning these out regularly in just a few moments prior to any lift. Now that is something I would not want to do on a smaller screen, but I still think the iPad stays in the truck for the most part.
It’s So Hard
One of the most tedious and generally neglected field documentation responsibilities on a construction site is equipment inspection documentation. OSHA 1926.601(b)(14) states:
“All vehicles in use shall be checked at the beginning of each shift to assure that the following parts, equipment, and accessories are in safe operating condition and free of apparent damage that could cause failure while in use:…”
Continue reading Documenting Equipment Inspections
Field documentation of a construction crew is a daunting challenge. Every contractor I’ve ever discussed this with has had the same defeatist attitude. They’ll shake their heads, throw up their arms and say it’s a lost cause. Worse are those that don’t even give it much thought, not worth the trouble I suppose is what they believe. Continue reading Harder than it should be