In a previous article, we discussed The Inevitability of Paperless Materials Management.  The construction industry is currently entering a new era with mobile technology.  Material status and inventory information can flow seamlessly between mobile devices, web applications, and third-party ERP systems. this offers enhanced data integrity and real-time visibility for site supervision and workface planners.

Availability of Accurate Data

Using mobile applications to enter data in real-time reduces human error by displaying the latest information to the user to avoid confusion or data integrity issues. Using connected devices eliminates the lag time when receiving status updates from multiple locations such as vendor or manufacturing locations, site warehouses and other systems that are used to coordinate construction activities. Workers can plan construction activities with confidence knowing they have the latest information at their fingertips.

With the use of integrated barcode scanners workers rarely have to manually enter data. Receiving materials, updating inventory, attaching documents and locating parts can all be done with the simple scan of a barcode. With the addition of Bluetooth technology and RFID sensors, mobile devices can collect and update tracking data just by launching an application. Using GPS technology applications can add location detail to processes without requiring any user input.

Visibility and Control for the Project

Traditionally, Material Managers were the only ones able to look up material information. Now with mobile applications, we can share specific information with all workers on a construction site. Mobile applications have the ability to share real-time material availability data to make workers self-sufficient and more productive at their jobs. With direct access to material availability and location information, construction workers can easily locate materials spread over large laydown areas or even when buried in snow, mud or submerged in water. If materials move or become damaged in transport workers can update the system instantly with photos and comments of what happened without having to follow traditional manual reporting processes.

The Future of Mobile Technology

With the current pace of technology, the possibilities of mobile applications are endless. Augmented reality applications will be able to overlay construction information on a live work site. Imagine walking through a digitally constructed 3D model before installation work has even started. Connected applications will warn construction crews about safety concerns and scheduling conflicts in real-time. Applications of the future will help workers concentrate on the technical challenges of construction without needing to worry about the process required to get there.

Final Thoughts   

Choosing the right technology for a project reduces time and cost associated with material operations. Mobile applications are no longer considered as an advantage in construction, but rather a necessity. The transition from paper-based processes to Web and Mobile-based Material Management Systems has been slowly gathering steam in recent years and will continue to pick up momentum as more companies join the revolution. Mobile technologies are now taking center stage to add another layer of speed, efficiency, and data integrity to construction projects across the globe. Will your project be next to join the revolution?