The construction industry faces ongoing labor and productivity challenges with economic shifts and workforce needs. Recent research from Associated Builders and Contractors found that the construction industry will need to hire an estimated 546,000 additional workers on top of the normal pace of hiring in 2023 to meet the current labor demands. With not enough workers entering the industry to meet demand, the current workforce must have access to advanced resources such as rugged mobile technology solutions to make their work more efficient.
Rugged mobile technology offers the construction workforce a path to streamlined processes, seamless communication, and connectivity from anywhere. Delays are costly and can set back timelines by weeks or months. In order to avoid unnecessary challenges, construction organizations need to invest in rugged tech and tap into the benefits they offer to complete projects faster.
1. Resiliency amid rapidly changing temperatures and weather conditions
On the job site, workers can’t afford to pause a project due to changing weather conditions. Rugged mobile devices allow work to continue despite rain, heat, or snow. For example, a project manager may need to move from site to site throughout the day, which means rapidly changing temperatures as they go from their warm vehicle, building, or office to a windy or cold site early in the morning. Consumer-grade devices shut down in extreme hot or cold conditions often found inside vehicles during cold winters or hot summers. Outside the vehicle and on the job site, consumer devices have visibility and readability issues in sunny conditions. Rugged devices stand up to glare from the sun with screens specifically designed to avoid reflections. With a rugged device, working in harsh weather environments is no longer a challenge.
2. Protection against dust, dirt, and debris
From extensive, deep digs to building assembly, job sites are filled with dust, dirt, and debris. Consumer-grade devices aren’t meant for extensive time in these environments, which slows productivity. For example, in sawdust or dirt-heavy sites, debris will be kicked into the air. Traditional consumer devices can be damaged by clogged keyboards and ports. Rugged solutions are built MIL-STD (military standard) and IP certified to mitigate this challenge without the need for any clunky or additional cases or shells. Additionally, cleaning off rugged devices is often a breeze compared to consumer devices.
3. Extra-long battery life and customization capabilities as project needs change
Advancements in modular rugged technology mean that devices can run up to 20 hours, allowing workers to go a whole shift without needing to charge their device. In addition, the customization capabilities of rugged devices allow workers to utilize hot-swappable batteries, extending the usability of the device even further. These devices can run upwards of 30 hours without the need for a charge. This ensures that everyone working on the job site can remain connected throughout the day. Project managers no longer need to go back to the office or stay in a trailer to charge their devices.
4. Reliable connectivity and security on site or on the go
Mobile technology set up with construction-specific software and tools has its advantages. But these computing systems must be powerful and connected. Many rugged solutions run the latest Intel processors in order to manage CPU-intensive software. They also offer greater connectivity capabilities than consumer-grade devices, including Wi-Fi, 4G and 5G LTE, and CBRS. With mobile inventory tracking, project managers can quickly pinpoint the status of critical materials, avoiding the challenge of locating lost or missing items and reducing downtime. In addition, remote connectivity allows employees to spend less time traveling to the office just to transfer or access data. Workers can share information with their teams in real time straight from the job site. If parts and materials are not at the job site, there can be monetary losses from project delays and wasted labor hours due to missing parts. Job site communication technologies allow workers to schedule, track, and manage materials and delivery orders from the site and report issues in real time.
5. Durability to access, control, and connect to emerging and innovative technologies
Deploying rugged technology is not a one-time solution to a current problem, it is an investment that helps reduce project timelines and workloads in the short-term and long-term. Construction project needs can change quickly, and different software or solutions may be required to maximize efficiency and avoid delays. Contractors can’t afford to replace mobile computing fleets every two to three years because they are damaged or are no longer able to perform at the level required. Rugged devices have a longer lifespan, and modular rugged devices are upgradable and customizable. They are engineered in a way that many of its parts—such as batteries, memory, drivers, readers, scanners—are swappable.
Technology that is purpose-built to support ongoing upgrades, customization, and extended use is critical. The right technology solutions look different for each construction company, so always look for customized solutions, services, and support.
Bonus tip number 6. Make sure rugged computing deployment is backed by the services and support
For contractors looking to digitally transform and purchase a suite of mobile computers, remember to consider services and support. This ranges from warranty, to imaging, to deployment, to maintenance, and more. Even the most rugged solutions will need care over time, and contractors need to find partners that have services that lower IT burden, can augment IT tasks, and even manage IT services.
The construction industry is transforming. Rugged mobile solutions have already set a new standard for solving common project challenges, while increasing the expectations for durability, flexibility, and connectivity. Without this technology, construction professionals risk falling behind as the industry progresses.