Wireless Technology On The Construction Site

By Tom Shaughnessy | September 28, 2010

To be productive in today's construction industry, builders and contractors must find easier more efficient means with which to coordinate material shipments, manage their subs, meet tight deadlines, AND try and make a profit.

Being organized and staying connected through wireless technology isn't just a luxury for big builders anymore. It's a must for small- and medium-sized construction firms trying to bring the project in on time and on budget.

"With comprehensive, seamlessly integrated wireless communication solutions for the construction industry, any size construction firm can be equipped with technology to stay productive and connected anytime, just about anywhere, no matter what the condition or jobsite location," says Tom Shaughnessy, director of business marketing for Sprint.

Shaughnessy offers construction managers these 10 tips to leverage wireless technologies to maximize productivity and coordinate a project on the run:

Consider A GPS-Enabled Phone

Global Positioning System-enabled phones are an incredibly useful and affordable way to find the quickest route to a job site. In addition, many of the phones your crews are currently using probably have GPS technology in them, so you may already have the ability to locate mobile workgroups such as crews, subcontractors and suppliers instantly. You can also use GPS to track assets such as trailers, generators and hydraulic lifts, all in an effort to keep projects coordinated.

Rugged Work Environment? Rugged Phone

You can handle the harsh conditions of a construction site, but can your phone? Consider a phone that's built to military specifications — originally designed for the military, but now commercialized — that can handle extreme environmental conditions including dust, shock, vibration, and/or extreme temperatures. If you work on-site regularly and have to stay connected, this is definitely the way to go.

Coordinate Crews While Away

Making multiple calls throughout the day to coordinate your team can be cumbersome. If you don't already have a push-to-talk enabled phone, seriously consider it. If you already have one, make sure you are using its most powerful features like group walkie-talkie or sending a quick voice or e-mail message to a group. In addition, you may not realize it but some services allow you to use two-way capabilities even when you are in rural areas, out of normal mobile phone range.

Log Employee Jobs And Hours Wirelessly

Increase the value of your mobile phone with advanced wireless time management tools. Accounting, billing and payroll are a snap when workers can input job start and stop times directly into their phones, and supervisors can review and approve those hours right from their phone or desktop — productivity enhancement right at your fingertips.

Manage Your Resources And Materials

If you manage materials for the construction site, many phones are able to work in conjunction with bar code scanners. By connecting a bar code scanner to a Bluetooth-enabled phone (short range wireless), you can scan and track any piece of equipment or material and streamline your resource management processes quickly and securely — all from your scanner and mobile phone.

Make Your Smart Device A Powerful Tool

Whether using a Treo or a BlackBerry your smart device can give you access to e-mails, schedules, contacts, and more even when you are out doing an inspection or completing a punch list, all from a single device, as if you were in the office.

Camera Phones Can Be Useful

There are countless uses for an integrated camera or video phone. Aside from taking a snapshot of the development of a project, this feature also comes in handy if there's a problem with construction, you witness an accident or need to document property damage on a site.

Make Almost Anyplace A Workplace

You can avoid job delays due to lack of connectivity in construction trailers with a mobile broadband card. Inserted into a mobile router, make almost any worksite a WiFi hot spot before there is even cable in the ground. A mobile broadband connection card can allow you to access the Internet anywhere on your carrier's mobile broadband network. Make sure you find a carrier that has an extensive mobile broadband network.

Wireless Tools Can Complete A Job Instantly

Waiting for customers to pay their bill can hold up a contractor's ability to complete a job. With credit card swipes that attach to mobile phones, you can collect payment when you are on site and complete the job.

Enable First Responders To Find You — Fast

Think about making a Plan B should something unexpected occur on-site and consider adding the feature to your phone plan that can quickly and easily connect first responders to you through GPS technologies.