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Smartphones, tablets, and cloud-based software are becoming standard in the construction field. And while these mobile technologies are beneficial at all stages of a project, they are particularly vital to ensuring the quality of the final product.

For a look at how, we turned to Aiden Dalley, product marketing manager with Viewpoint Construction Software.

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Easy to build DIY customizable forms for inspections, checklists and more

Why is technology an asset when it comes to quality control?

Quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) on a construction job are paramount. Defects in material or workmanship can result in rework, delays, or even a warranty claim after the job is finished. Those can impact a contractor's reputation and their profitability – especially when you consider that many North American construction projects operate within a margin of 2 – 3%. So it's important to have the most modern processes and tech-enabled solutions in place to make sure those QA and QC functions are performing at optimum levels.

What do those solutions look like?

Making sure a project is constructed to plan and spec is a major undertaking. Often, those tasked with controlling quality oversee a vast array of people and processes with limited time and resources.

Now, advances in mobile technologies and cloud-based applications are making the whole QA function a lot faster and more accurate. We have a tool called Viewpoint For Field View, for example, that gives QC inspectors all the resources and tools they need to carry out their inspections and tests right there in the field, as well as the ability to safely share their data with other workers, subcontractors, and back-office staff. On a highway job, for example, mobile applications like ours can define exactly when, where, and how inspections are to be done and instruct users accordingly. They are also pre-loaded with the forms they need to fill out and include the capability to add photos, videos, and other details as well as referencing supporting materials, such as policy documents and procedures from that same mobile device.

How else do mobile technologies support QA in the field?

For one, project managers and owners can also use mobile technology to track individual crews and subcontractors in terms of their progress, quality of work, and a number of other factors. As well, mobile apps can be pre-loaded with resources like project specs, contacts, external reference videos, and third-party websites. That eliminates guesswork and the need for people to travel back and forth to a trailer to find out something they can now just pull up on whatever mobile device they're using.

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Dashboards provide real-time analysis of quality, activity and actions across projects

What about remote projects? Isn't mobile technology hindered in areas with weak or no internet service?

Mobile technology for construction is often developed with the understanding that a considerable amount of work in Canada occurs in areas with limited internet access or no wi-fi access at all. That's why they're usually offline capable and designed to allow users to sync up all their information to the cloud instantly when they do re-enter a wi-fi area. 

Is that data secure?

It is. Obviously, any time you talk about data you have the question of whether or not it can be stolen or leaked. Fortunately, a lot of the software you see out there for construction is supported by heavy back-end security measures. They also give primary users the ability to control access to subcontractors and other stakeholders.

You said before that “data is king”. What do you mean by that?

It's everything these days. And when you're looking at a mobile technology solution like Field View or any construction app, you want to also be ready to use the data you're getting from these programs on an enterprise level. That means being able to collect and analyze data from all your projects, not just one, because that's where the real insights come from.

Aiden Dalley is product marketing manager with Viewpoint Construction Software, a provider of innovative construction-specific software solutions to the global construction and capital project industries. For more, visit www.viewpoint.com.


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