Design Coordination in Fieldwire

ClaudiaroundClaudia King
Construction Specialist

There’s an old adage about walking before running that always seems timely when a new construction project begins. Getting all of your ducks in a row prior to construction can often be tedious, but it’s an essential part to getting the project started on the right foot. Even before ground is broken, there is a seemingly endless stream of back-and-forth between stakeholders as the design evolves and is value engineered. It’s crucial to get everything done right during this pre-construction stage, so the importance of a reliable communication tool cannot be overstated.


Streamlined Document Control

Preconstruction involves a range of different stakeholders who often have conflicting priorities. With early contractor involvement becoming increasingly common, value engineering and effective communication become more and more important. The design process requires a balancing act between the viewpoints of each discipline - architects, owners, contractors, engineers, designers, the list goes on. During this process, interactions between these groups is constant and evolving, and making sure everyone is up-to-date with design changes can be a challenging. Strong collaboration and a clear, immediate flow of information are paramount.

Fieldwire turns this process into an automatic endeavor. When architects and engineers issue new versions of drawings, all of that valuable and current data is shared with everyone instantaneously through our software. Fieldwire is a platform designed to keep the entire team on the same page when it comes to real-time data, so confusion caused by outdated information is eliminated and replaced with clarity.

Project drawings can all be housed within the app, viewable offline and available at all times with a few simple clicks. Sheets are automatically versioned thanks to cloud syncing, so everyone is working off of the correct sheets no matter how often they get updated. You can even set up notifications to alert the entire team when new versions have been uploaded, and unlimited storage capacity allows you to keep a record of every past iteration of your design for easy reference. There’s also an option to overlay and compare sheets, whether they’re versions of the same drawing or entirely different sheets, and export comparisons as color-coded images. This simplifies change management and ensures you can catch any inconsistencies with little effort.


Improved Communication via Tasks

As the design continues to develop from concept to IFC (Issued for Construction), Fieldwire’s task management system makes tracking interdisciplinary collaboration a breeze. You no longer need to jot down hand-written notes and scan or photograph them to be shared with others; much like redlining and overlaying plans no longer requires a pencil, your detailed notes can be recorded and shared with a few taps of your fingertips. Any items or concerns can be marked-up, assigned, categorized, prioritized, and worked into the schedule.

If a particular design change or question comes up, a task containing that question and any other notes can be assigned to the respective designer. He or she will immediately be notified, and the task creator will in turn be notified in real-time once the designer responds. These immediate alerts keep everyone aware of updates as they happen, so no time is wasted during various back-and-forth. Tasks can be placed directly on drawings as well, so there is full transparency about the issue at hand.

Fieldwire makes it easy to capture all of this correspondence within one platform for improved accountability. The app dates and timestamps all task updates and plan markups, so you always know who did what and when they did it. As with all of the above features, this helps save your team precious time by distributing information quickly and without any strain, so collaboration is steady and free from uncertainty. You’ll know as soon as someone assigns you a task or responds to one you made, and you’ll be able to respond just as quickly. It’s also easy for design managers to remotely log in and see the complete task dashboard, which gives them an overview on the status of all outstanding tasks.


To get your project up and running successfully, consider introducing a valuable communication and document management tool from day one. Fieldwire boosts collaboration and transparency throughout the design phase of your project, and that same convenience will carry over into the proper construction stage as well. All stakeholders and designers will be kept in the loop at all times, and you’ll never need to worry about drawn out email chains or outdated drawings. Fieldwire handles all of that for you, creating a clear and structured flow of information that will help you complete your design efficiently and on schedule.

Heavy Civil Terms 101

DominicroundDominic Delfino
Construction Specialist

Construction lingo is as diverse and abundant as the types of trades you’ll encounter on the job. We believe team communication becomes more cohesive when you can understand what your teammates are talking about, which is why we’ve highlighted a number of common words and phrases you’re likely to hear on-site. The latest installment in this series is specific to heavy civil work. Here are 15 heavy civil terms that you should keep in your toolbelt.


  • Abutment: Supporting structure at each end of a single span bridge. Types of abutments vary based on geotechnical, geographic, and constructability factors.

  • Clear and Grub: The process of removing vegetation and material from land in the construction area. This prepares the site for excavation and grading work to take place.

  • Cofferdam: A structural enclosure installed to retain water in damp soil or bodies of water. The cofferdam is installed and water is pumped out of the enclosure to provide a dry and safe work environment.

  • Critical Lift: Per OSHA 1926.751, a lift that (1) exceeds 75% of the rated capacity of the crane or derrick, or (2) requires the use of more than one crane or derrick.

  • Derrick Barge: Also known as a crane barge. These floating cranes lift large loads while on water. These are great for offshore construction use.

  • DLB (Dig, Lay, Burry/Backfill): Term used in underground construction that describes the activity of utility installation. Dig/excavate dirt, lay your utility line, and backfill.

  • Embankment: An elevated landmass made of compacted soil or aggregate. Embankments help create roads and level surfaces for slabs or levees.

  • Falsework: These are the temporary structures that are built to hold and support cast-in-place concrete during pours and while it cures to strength.

  • Grade and Compact: The process of leveling out an area of land and exerting force using heavy equipment to stabilize the soil or aggregate.

  • K-Rail/Jersey Barrier: A precast concrete barrier that comes in 10’ or 20’ lengths. These are used to separate traffic, protect traffic from a leading edge, or designate the construction zone.

  • MSE (Mechanically Stabilized Earth) Wall: A wall system consisting of vertical panels and horizontal straps backfilled with aggregate or soil. MSE walls allow for easier and quicker installation than traditional cast-in-place methods.

  • Pile: Usually, a long structural member driven into the ground to act as support for a foundation or wall. There are many forms of pile that differ by material, shape, and size.

  • Shoring: Temporary structural support for underground excavation to prevent soil movement or collapse. Shoring is used when you can no longer excavate to your maximum allowable slope.

  • Shotcrete: Concrete that is shot onto a reinforced surface, usually wire mesh, by way of air pressure and hose. Shotcrete is a typically installed on soil nail walls.

  • Tremie Concrete: Concrete that is designed to be poured underwater through a gravity feed system. This method is often used to create underwater foundations as well as seal cofferdams and caissons.

These are just 15 of the common terms you will encounter when dealing with heavy civil firms. Understanding each of these terms will hopefully make communicating with your project colleagues much smoother. After all, boosting communication is something Fieldwire is very passionate about!

Control Terms 101

KileyroundKiley Sheehy
Account Manager

When it comes to the construction industry, there is a lot of jargon that gets used on a daily basis. Most project members will likely understand the more common ones, but the definition of “common” may vary from trade to trade. Each group has its own set of common lingo that other teams might not be familiar with, so with that in mind, I’d like to focus on ten control-specific terms you should add to your vocabulary.


Control systems have a wide range of regularly-used terms. Let’s start off with the basics, as defined by ASHRAE:

  • HVAC: The equipment, terminals, and distribution systems that provide, either collectively or individually, the processes of heating, ventilating, or air conditioning to a building or portion of a building.

  • Building Automation System (BAS): An energy management system, usually with additional capabilities, relating to the overall operation of the building in which it is installed; this includes equipment monitoring, protection of equipment against power failure, and building security.

When you boil it down, HVAC is the setup of machines that make a room or space warmer, cooler, or more conditioned in some regard. The BAS is the digital automation that takes operation of an HVAC design out of someone’s physical hands, and moves it onto a computer interface. This makes it a computer-based system:

With the advent of a BAS for HVAC, we can eliminate much of the opening/closing and turning off/on of equipment and devices behind hard-to-reach ceiling tiles, or up in lofty mezzanines. Often times you’ll hear BAS, BMS, DDC, and EMS used interchangeably across control installers and manufacturers. ASHRAE also defines them all near-identically:

  • Building Management System (BMS): An energy management system relating to the overall operation of the building in which it is installed. It often has additional capabilities, such as equipment monitoring, protection of equipment against power failure, and building security. It may also be a direct digital control (DDC) system, where the mode of control uses digital outputs to control processes or elements directly.

  • Direct Digital Control (DDC): A type of control where controlled and monitored analog or binary data (e.g., temperature, contact closures) are converted to digital format for manipulation and calculations by a digital computer or micro-processor, then converted back to analog or binary form to control physical devices.

  • Energy Management System (EMS): A system of computer applications used by building engineering staff to monitor, control, and optimize the building's operating performance (e.g., energy consumption, occupant comfort levels). EMS optimizes building operating performance through supervisory control programs that utilize core BMS functionality.

An EMS is a more refined definition of a BMS, focused exclusively on operating performance with things like IAQ (indoor air quality), occupant productivity and comfort, and energy output as key metrics.


But what do these things control?

A BMS is constructed to automate all of the HVAC equipment in a building - chillers, air handlers, fans, cooling towers, and much more. All things designed to move BTUs in and out of a building space via heating and cooling air and water to deliver a required temperature and humidity.

Anywhere you might hit a stat on the wall and call out a need for heating and cooling would be a HVAC zone:

  • HVAC Zone: A space or group of spaces, within a building with heating, cooling, and ventilating requirements, that are sufficiently similar so that desired conditions (e.g., temperature) can be maintained throughout using a single sensor (e.g., thermostat or temperature sensor).

Common items you might see wired up on a BMS would include:

  • Actuator: A device operated either electrically, pneumatically, or hydraulically, that acts as a motor to change the position of movable devices, such as valves or dampers.

These devices actuate the position of dampers allowing airflow into an air handler, through ductwork, and down to a space. Valves are also actuated to open and close to allow fluid flow through piping in a building. It’s a nightmare manually opening and closing all dampers and valves across a building or campus of buildings, which is one of the great advantages to implementing a BMS.

  • Sensor: A device or instrument designed to detect and measure a variable.

Whenever a measurement is taken in a building (such as temperature, humidity, CO detection), a sensor is the measuring tool. It’s also the tool that reports back to the BAS.

  • Variable-frequency drive (VFD): An electronic device that varies its output frequency to vary the rotating speed of a motor, given a fixed input frequency. Used with fans or pumps to vary the flow in the system as a function of a maintained pressure.

A VFD serves to automatically optimize speeds for anything that spins in a circle. Fans, motors, and pumps are the three main users of a VFD, and they’re huge in power consumption. The more we can automate the work of these items, the more savings a building owner will see.


So there you have it! These are ten commonly-used control terms you can now comfortably use on the job. Hopefully these definitions will help you better understand some of the lingo being used on your next project. After all, you can’t collaborate with others if you don’t understand what they’re talking about!

Leveraging Mobile in African Construction

EdouardroundEdouard Bidault
European Business Development

The future of construction management in Africa is interesting. From April 2016 to March 2017, I was working in Cameroon as a project engineer for Razel Bec, a French general contractor specializing in public works. I was in charge of heavy civil work on a 5 KM, $90M canal project in Yaoundé, managing 8 teams (roughly 80 people in total) that included 8 foremen, 3 superintendents, and 6 subcontractors under my supervision. While the scale of the project wasn’t surprising, what I did find surprising was that everyone had a phone in their hands.


Since there is a lot of construction going on throughout Cameroon, workers would be moving from one site to another, often taken far from their homes and families. They would carry mobile phones with them in order to stay in touch with and send money to loved ones who could be hundreds of miles away. This made communication with my crews a lot easier as well; in the beginning it was difficult to get hold of specific people since the canal project stretched along a large distance. It would often taken 1-2 hours just to do a full walkthrough of the site. But being able to call workers up on their phones helped alleviate that burden, and since everyone relied on mobile technology for personal needs, internet and mobile coverage was strong all along the canal.

Phones became a new type of tool while on-site. Foremen could order more concrete or ask for additional equipment, all just by making a call. With this increased mobile activity, African construction teams can benefit by making use of the management resources available on the technology that they already possess. With an estimated 880 million mobile phones, Africa is the second largest market for mobile in the world (behind only Asia).

There are 54 countries in Africa, with a combined 1.1 billion inhabitants, and often mobile is the primary source that people have for internet connectivity. Fixed line internet grids are expensive to develop and are often in poor condition; in Uganda, there are 200,000 subscribers to mobile internet versus the 22,000 fixed line subscribers. 88% of all internet traffic in Nigeria goes through mobile - in the United States, only 30% of traffic is via mobile. And while smartphones may only currently account for 20% of total phones in the African market, they accounted for 46% of total phone sales in 2016. Investment in 3G and 4G networks is also on the rise, so the growth trend is clear to see.


What does this mean for construction? It means modern project management software is now an option for streamlining daily on-site activity. Countries like Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa have large numbers of smartphone owners, and as more African countries continue to switch to smartphones then this mobile technology can be applied on job sites all around the continent. And why shouldn’t the smartphone trend continue? Prices have dropped tremendously since the early 2000s, with certain Chinese manufacturers even offering devices starting as low as $20. Affordability and prevalence are changing what smartphone owners look like. What once could have only been owned by the wealthy is now owned by everyone, and the heavy reliance on mobile internet in Africa means this technology is here to stay.

The future of construction management in Africa is indeed interesting, and broad. There are large parts of the continent that still need extensive and often remote roadwork to be performed; entire regions only accessible by muddy roads and hilly tracks. With increased access to mobile devices and networks, construction firms can leverage mobile technology to address the frequent need for heavy civil work and infrastructure improvements. Mobile project management tools will help workers stay connected easier and share data faster, saving time so that they can focus more energy into the task at hand.


Construction apps can also help save money. Printing fees in most African countries are often costly when compared to worker wages. For example, printing an A3 drawing can cost $0.30, which is roughly 10% of the average laborer’s daily wage in Sub-Saharan African countries. Accessing drawings on a smartphone app not only eliminates those costs, it makes plan viewing or redlining a simple and immediate prospect. When all of the relevant project data and materials are always in hand on a worker’s smartphone, it severely reduces the amount of wasted time in that worker’s day.

The median age in Africa is approximately 20 years old (as opposed to 38 years old in the United States). This means that most on-site workers have likely grown up with mobile phones and are familiar with the internet and new technologies. My crew in Cameroon used smartphones to reach their loved ones. Three in every four Kenyans use smartphones to make online payments. Photography, social media, interaction with friends, it’s all done via smartphones the same as it is here. Since the West is already finding so much success incorporating mobile construction solutions into daily on-site activity, African countries can do the same to achieve heightened efficiency and communication on a growing list of construction projects.

3 Ways Fieldwire Supports Last Planner System Implementation

StephaneroundStephane Denerolle
Product Evangelist

Within the construction industry, many professionals have turned their attention toward the Last Planner® System (LPS). Its popularity has been steadily increasing, as indicated by all of the whiteboards covered with sticky notes popping up in on-site trailers. Firms can manage schedules more efficiently than ever before with the aid of modern systems, so that when the time comes to break ground, no one has to worry about inaccuracies or holdups.


If you are a newcomer to LPS and want to read up a bit more on the topic, the Lean Construction Institute has made some useful documentation available to you. But for a more hands-on dive into the principles of LPS, you might also try picking up Fieldwire. With a proven track record of streamlining project management, Fieldwire has become a staple of numerous construction jobs to support the implementation of the Last Planner® System. Here’s how:

1) Use Fieldwire’s calendar interface on web to plan the next month of work. Foremen and superintendents - the last planners on the job - can utilize Fieldwire during weekly work planning sessions to outline commitments in the coming weeks. Each company can use the app to organize tasks ahead of meetings, so that during meetings they can easily filter those tasks based on company, category, or date. Everyone can collaborate on planning and make any adjustments without hassle using Fieldwire’s drag and drop interface. Some will display Fieldwire on large touchscreen televisions, which allows last planners to easily move tasks around the calendar with their fingers. In addition, tasks can be both imported and edited in bulk within the software as needed.


2) Rely on the real-time notification system to keep your crew in the loop. Teams receive instant mobile and email updates about commitments that are made and assigned during planning sessions. This makes tracking progress easier than ever, particularly if you utilize the related tasks feature within Fieldwire. This feature ties tasks together to alert team members of dependencies, such as in the below example where an electrical rough-in cannot be taken care of before framing is completed. Full transparency on project tasks is a vital component of what makes Fieldwire so useful. Any roadblocks, sudden issues, or urgent duties can be managed effectively so that work isn’t needlessly delayed and accountability is boosted throughout the team.


3) Measure progress with accuracy in future meetings. During the next work planning session, use Fieldwire to assess how much headway was made in previous weeks. Graphs within projects on the web version of the software provide detailed analytics on work completed or still in progress. You are also able to export task data in PDF or CSV reports, and the spreadsheet reports are especially helpful with providing plan percent complete (PPC) metrics.


Fieldwire can be the key to successfully implementing the Last Planner® System on your projects, and with these simply but effective steps, you’ll have your team’s schedule and productivity working more efficiently than ever before.

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