Managing the Job Q+A
Construction Software Experts Explain the Benefits of Technology on the Jobsite
As technology continues to invade every aspect of our lives, it’s no surprise that pipeline jobsites provide a ripe territory for construction management solutions. Construction fleet management provider Telogis and software developer Dexter + Chaney provide various solutions for managing projects in the digital age.
Telogis provides a wide range of fleet management solutions that provide locating and telematics for contractors of various industries, including oil and gas. Geoff Scalf, the company’s director of business development for oil and gas spoke to North American Oil & Gas Pipelines about cloud-based solutions for pipeline jobsites.
Meanwhile, Dexter + Chaney has recently launched its Spectrum Project Management system, which the company showcased at the World of Concrete expo in Las Vegas, Feb. 5-8. Marketing director Wayne Newitts explained the benefits of employing technology on the pipeline jobsite.
How can technology/data tools assist contractors and project owners on a pipeline construction jobsite?
SCALF: Without a solution such as the Telogis platform, contractors and project owners need to purchase a fleet tracking solution, an asset tracking solution, consumer grade navigation products, build custom maps to overlay the location data, and develop or buy multiple mobile applications for user input in the field. While this approach works via brute force, it only provides insight on a reactive, singular or minimal view of the activities in the field.
Telogis’ cloud-based location intelligence software platform can improve safety, fuel efficiency, resource allocation, project status reporting and project planning and implementation. The Telogis platform provides the ability to deploy mobile, operational workflow applications with location data, which contractors and project owners gain real-time onsite intelligence needed to efficiently manage assets and resources.
Telogis delivers driver and vehicle performance metrics, asset tracking, mobile workflow applications, custom map layers, navigation and routing and integration with existing internal project tracking applications. With this capability, owners can redeploy crews, route contractors to where crews are, and with the Telogis Supervisor mobile application on smartphones and tablets, contractors and crews remain locational-aware of each other regardless of the distance.
In addition, owners can ensure their crews are adhering to driver safety policies with in-cab coaching and driver safety scorecards for hard braking, fast acceleration, seat belt usage and speeding. With the use of executive dashboards, safety and operational metrics can be tracked and trouble spots easily identified using a simple green-yellow-red color scheme.
How do contractors/project owners use the data collected during a project in field vs. in the office?
SCALF: With Telogis mobile and workflow applications, the data collected in the field is the data shown in real time in the office. This provides immediate metrics for completion, materials required/delivered, vendor payments and pipeline contractor billing. Telogis eliminates the need to wait until the crew returns from the field to identify materials and equipment needed for the next day’s work. The data is transmitted immediately, in real time so decisions can be made on the spot.
Additionally, vehicle performance such as engine hours and fuel usage can be tracked. Vehicle maintenance crews can be dispatched to provide any scheduled service on the equipment or fuel trucks sent to refuel equipment. Maintenance crews and fuel trucks can utilize the Telogis platform’s commercial navigation tool to efficiently get to the equipment’s location.
What kinds of solutions are available to the pipeline contractor that will enhance efficiency on a project?
NEWITTS: For a project to be managed efficiently, many balls need to be kept in the air. These can be divided into three general categories: cost, operations and collaboration. Solutions exist for the management of all three, but the best solutions combine them.
When combined, project managers have a complete view of their projects and are equipped to make decisions that lead to overall profitability — of which efficiency is a part. Too often decisions are made that save costs at the expense of operational efficiency, or that improve jobsite logistics but are not cost effective — and so on.
Efficient management of work performed by one’s own staff or organization will keep a contractor in business. To grow and become a leading firm means taking management one step further. The best contractors find ways to manage the project players outside the four walls of their company. Tools to effect cross-company collaboration exist, and as more of the industry embraces cloud computing technology, these tools are growing in number and capability. Unlike off-the-shelf sharing solutions, contractors should look for collaboration platforms that provide the rigorous version control required in the management of construction documents. And if the solution provider charges for participation by a contractor’s subs and vendors, it is virtually guaranteed that participation will be limited at best. Collaboration platform should be “free-to-play” for those asked to use them.
What is the cost of implementing a fleet or construction management program? What tools/software/hardware is needed?
NEWITTS: The cost of implementing construction management is a function of how extensive a solution a contractor chooses. As discussed above, they may want basic productivity tools, enterprise software or a complete project collaboration and management platform. The recommended approach depends on many things but company size and growth are the key criteria.
As a very loose guideline, contractors who are below $5 million in gross annual revenue would likely find enterprise software too much for their operation. Using off the shelf software such as Quickbooks and MS Project are good options for these firms until they exceed this threshold. Costs for these products are typically well less than $1,000 per user license, and they require minimal training and implementation effort.
Companies who grow larger than $5 million per year will soon find that the complexity of their operations is not supported by generic software, and will need to consider construction-specific enterprise software. Here the pricing varies more since the sophistication of solutions varies more. As a reasonable benchmark, however, a price range of $4,000 to $6,000 per user license is typical. The number of licenses needed depends on organizational structure. A typical $20 million per year pipeline contractor will likely need five to eight licenses.
For a transcript of the interviews between Scalf and Newitts, visit us online at www.napipelines.com.
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