Wireless World Impacts Contractors Bottom Line

March 2013, Vol. 68 No. 3

Who needs what wireless devices?
Primary questions facing owners and managers of many organizations is what devices and applications are needed and who will get them in order to implement a wireless communications program that fits the organization’s specific needs. The majority of those 1.5 million apps are for consumers, and most apps that relate to construction are not industry specific. Plus, every employee in the field doesn’t need a smart phone or iPad.

Earlier this year, members of the Federated Electrical Contractors (FEC) participated in a survey that addressed these questions. FEC is an international network of leading electrical contracting companies, many of whom are active in power and telecommunications construction.

The survey found field personnel provided smart phones and tablet computers primarily were general foremen and project managers, who used them for: accessing and updating project data (including drawings), sharing files, permitting, making videos and presentations (safety training was an example), various project management tasks, purchase requisitions, quality control applications, record keeping, remote computer access, remote data entry, simple takeoffs and for submitting bids.

The top applications cited by the survey: DropBox, Adobe PDF Reader, AutoCAD WS, Office 2, Evernote and Note Shelf.

Commonwealth Electric Company of the Midwest, Lincoln, NE, installs outside telecommunications plant and power transmission and distribution systems in addition to commercial and industrial electrical work.

Nick Cole, Commonwealth manager of construction services, said the company considers itself ahead of the curve in the use of wireless and digital mobile communications technologies.

From management’s perspective, Cole said wireless technology is a key element in receiving, sending and responding to important information related to specific projects. A primary benefit of using a wireless communications system with field personnel is being able to answer questions immediately, whether field or management related.

“Information flow to and from a job site must be immediate and detailed,” said Cole. “The timeliness of communication and information flow relates directly to productivity and potential lost time, which directly translates to greater or lesser profitability.”

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