Mobile collaboration: KE using new app to connect with project teams

James Dudt is excited about the way new technology is letting him help construction teams – even if he’s nowhere near the work site.

When it comes to resolving construction issues, says James, a mechanical engineer at KE, “Technology is turning the typical process upside down.”

Using smart phones and tablets, teams can quickly share photos and video chat in order to keep work moving.

And where there are smart phones, there is an app.

A Collaboration App for A/E/C Teams

Karpinski Engineering is using PlanGrid, a cloud-based construction app that lets the design and construction teams collaborate in real time.

A quick primer on PlanGrid:

The app allows users to upload and share project drawings, specs, photos, and notes. They can mark up drawings, add items to the issues log, or complete punch lists – then share their work with team members in real time.

The project team can access and annotate the files from anywhere with an internet connection – whether a smart phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. During construction, the architectural and engineering teams can provide solutions outside of project meetings and construction observation visits – saving time and reducing RFIs and construction delays.

Resolving a Construction Issue from the Office

James describes an issue that came up during a recent renovation project. As construction progressed, the mechanical contractor discovered some demolition scope that didn’t appear on either the construction drawings or the owner’s record drawings.

The construction manager and contractor called James at the office. Using PlanGrid, they showed him where the issue was. They uploaded photos into the app and sketched the conflict on the design drawings.

While they were on the phone, James used the app to create and share sketches of possible solutions. The CM and contractor provided feedback, and the team finalized a design solution.

“Instead of it taking a week or more to resolve, we were done in less than an hour,” James said.

Finishing Punch Lists – Faster

Technology engineer Ryan Smith has been using PlanGrid for punch lists on numerous projects. Rather than carry a roll of drawings around the site, he carries a tablet.

Ryan says that using PlanGrid speeds up the time it takes to do a punch list. Plus, he says, it benefits the construction manager.

“I think CMs appreciate that you get instantaneous punch items” instead of waiting on the usual punch-list process, he said.

Ryan explained that he can take photos and locate issues directly on the drawings – making it easier for the CM to find and resolve them.

How Owners Benefit

A tool like PlanGrid also gives owners greater insight into their project, James explained.

“It’s a transparent process, because the owner can have access to PlanGrid from his desktop,” said James. “The owner has available…the same drawings as the rest of the project team.”

Owners can see what issues were discovered and how the issues were resolved. They can view one consolidated punch list. When the project is finished, they can download the drawings – with the accompanying photos and annotations – for future reference.

For James, it comes back to collaboration. “The owner gets a more collaborative project, where people are seeing the same information.”

“It’s where the industry is going.”

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