ALL POSTSCOMPANYCONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENTINDUSTRY NEWS

Fieldwire in the news, August 2018 roundup

Thomaspochedly round headshotThomas Pochedly
Marketing Associate

We wanted to share with you coverage about Fieldwire and stories we’ve contributed to across the construction industry and trade press. Recently, Fieldwire has been featured in publications ranging from Construction Executive to Glassdoor to CommercialCafé to FitSmallBusiness. Let’s take a look at highlights from each piece:


Construction Executive: “Technology and the Labor Shortage: Automation Can Empower Workers”

While the prevailing notion is that automation will replace workers, in the construction industry the opposite is true. Writing in Construction Executive, Yves Frinault, Fieldwire co-founder and CEO, explains how technology will empower workers on the jobsite. The truth is that the construction industry is facing a serious shortage of skilled labor. This labor shortage can be overcome by empowering workers on the jobsite through smart technology. There is a great deal of fear workers will be replaced by technology and automation in the near future, but, according to Yves Frinault, that is not likely:

“While robots can be easily trained and managed, they lack one crucial quality: adaptability. Human workers can adapt to different situations and make decisions based on their critical thinking skills.”

Should we be cautious of technology, or use it to our benefit? Read Yves Frinault’s full commentary about the future of construction automation.


Glassdoor: “How to Attract Millennials & Gen Z to Blue-Collar Jobs”

Blue collar industries face a major labor shortage. Writing for Glassdoor, Yves explains his thoughts on the society’s belittling view of blue collar jobs, why we’re making a big mistake, and how we can encourage young people to pursue a blue collar career. Today, many parents push their children to pursue a college degree solely because there is a stigma attached to blue-collar careers. In some countries, craftsmen are revered. We need to follow their lead and discard the stigma against blue-collar professions. Currently, we are already facing a shortage of skilled-labor. There simply are not enough young people willing to work with their hands and learn a trade. Yves outlines five ways companies can overcome the skilled labor-shortage, and adds:

“My hope is that we can begin to appreciate our mechanics and plumbers as much as we do our doctors and lawyers. In doing so, more young people will realize blue-collar jobs offer rewarding careers that pay well and make meaningful contributions to society.”

Have you been impacted by the skilled-labor shortage? Learn five ways to overcome the labor shortage.


CommercialCafé: Expert Insights: Improving Productivity with Construction Software

Recently, author Andi Luscan at CommercialCafé sat down with our Yves Frinault to discuss how software can be used to improve jobsite productivity. Did you know that the construction industry is one of the least digitized industries in the U.S.? Only hunting and agriculture are less digitized. Construction workers spend only 30% of their time on actual construction work. The rest of their time is spent gathering resources and tools, and trying to communicate with others on the site. With the right technology, we can give that lost time back to the worker and drive productivity on the jobsite. However, adoption can be a difficult process. Software needs to be easy to use and create value for the craftsmen on the jobsite. Yves highlighted the growing adoption of technology:

“As everyone on the jobsite gets more comfortable using software on their smartphones and tablets, field adoption will also naturally increase.”

Technology needs to empower our people on the jobsite, not hold them back. Check out the interview to learn how technology will modernize the jobsite.


FitSmallBusiness: Editorial review of Fieldwire

With thousands of user reviews out there it can be tough to cut through the noise and determine true value. FitSmallBusiness’s Abigail Orencia does just that. Using customer reviews she writes an assessment of Fieldwire that is clear, thoughtful, and to the point. It includes a summary of Fieldwire user reviews, a list of useful features, and frequently asked questions. A favorite quote from the article:

“Users said that the program is intuitive and that the support team is responsive. Many users also mentioned that the rates are affordable.”

Abigail Orencia, FitSmallBusiness

Why sift through a mountain of reviews? Check out FitSmallBusiness’ overview of Fieldwire.


Are construction jobs at risk of being automated?

Yvesround75Yves Frinault
Founder & CEO

Studies, debates, and news articles about automation have become commonplace. There is a growing uncertainty about which occupations, and more importantly how many jobs are at risk due to technological advances.

A recent study from the OECD - which regroups many western countries - divided jobs into four groups based on their automation risk. It was found that 46% of jobs are on the verge of being automated.

14% of jobs were found to be ‘highly automatable’ based on the current state of technological progress. Across the countries which participated in the study, this amounts to 66 million workers whose entire jobs could essentially be taken over and carried out by a computer or a machine. Another 32% of jobs were considered partially automatable. Sectors with the highest risk of automation included manufacturing and agriculture, but the construction industry isn't far behind, with an automation risk of just about 50%.

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The study investigated the risks of job automation in a wide range of sectors across OECD member countries (including the US, Canada and most European countries). A positive correlation was found between automation risk and lower levels of education, as well as wages. At first glance, this could be perceived as a potential threat for unskilled or entry level construction labor.

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However, the study also identified 'engineering bottlenecks' as a barrier to automation. In the case of construction, this includes ‘perception and manipulation’ - typically tasks requiring manual dexterity or agility - or ‘cognitive intelligence’ - dealing with uncertainty and solving problems with complex or creative thinking.

As we all know, construction is not as easy to automate as manufacturing. There are many underlying reasons why a construction jobsite today still looks vastly different from a manufacturing plant. In the current state of technology, this tends to classify jobsite activities in the partially automatable category. However, if robots can now assemble Ikea furnitures, there is really no telling what's next.

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Beyond the word, automation is an important subject for the industry. As construction embraces more technology in its search for productivity, it has a choice to make between adopting technology that enhances the craftsmen rather than replaces them. Just as computers brought tremendous gain in productivity for scientists by freeing them from the time-consuming calculations, at Fieldwire we believe that technology can be used to generate similar benefits to those on the jobsite.

You can learn more about Fieldwire here.


US Construction Activity Update

RaphaelroundRaphael Varieras
Director of Growth

While reviewing construction spending data from the US Census Bureau, we were pleased to see that the level of annual activity in the US private construction market had finally recovered to levels above what they were before the financial crisis. You can see in the below infographic how the current 2017 estimated level of $954 billion finally surpassed the $906 billion spent in 2006.

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This data comes from the Value of Construction Put in Place Survey (VIP Survey), which has been conducted continuously every month since 1964. It provides monthly estimates of the total dollar value of construction work done in the U.S. The survey covers construction work done each month on new structures or improvements to existing structures for private and public sectors. Data estimates include the cost of labor and materials, cost of architectural and engineering work, overhead costs, interest and taxes paid during construction, and contractor’s profits.

Additionally, in the CB18-49 press release, it noted that spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $982 billion for February 2018, $449 billion of which was non-residential (46%).


User Spotlight: Mark Higgason - Encompass AV

MarielleroundMarielle Price
Director of Customer Success

There’s nothing we enjoy more at Fieldwire than getting a chance to talk to the people that use our product. That’s why we’re particularly excited to launch this special series dedicated to highlighting the amazing companies we support and the incredible projects they work on every day.

Today we’re sharing our conversation with Mark Higgason from Encompass AV, a commercial Audio/Visual installer located in the Greater Chicago Area. They currently have 15 employees working on 45 active projects. Mark has been in the industry since 1999 (or as he says, almost his entire adult life), and is the VP of operations. We’ve also heard, but not confirmed, that he can mix vinyl like the best of them.

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Mark, what does your day-to-day look like?

On any given day, we have up to 4-5 jobs running simultaneously with up to 12 people. Because we’re running so many jobs with different locations, it would be impossible to keep track of everything without the help of Fieldwire.

If you had to pick 2-3 projects that were your favorites, which would those be?

First, the latest Hyatt Place at O’Hare Airport. We handled all the low voltage needs. Every room, every system. And it was a snap to keep it organized with the tech at our disposal. The Chicago White Sox are a favorite, as I'm a fan and South Side resident. And of course the University of Chicago Harris School. It's the same building as the bulletin of the atomic scientists, which makes me nerd happy. It's an honor to work for one of the greatest schools in the country.

What’s your favorite part of working in this industry? What motivates you?

Taking the technological wave is one of the coolest things about my industry. I’ve been in it for 17 years now and I’ve seen it shift from basically musicians running the show to information technology people. It’s a great space to be in, but someday I’m sure I’ll be scared of it.

This is a great segue into talking about technology. How do you see technology changing your industry?

It’s hard to think of an area where it won’t change. Digital technology for our industry is still in it’s infancy, and as more systems become digital, the potential and applications are going to change considerably in the future.

What would you say are some of the challenges people in your industry have when embracing technology?

They’re used to less-than-great software and they think it’ll be complicated to train people on the platform. PC-based software is extremely complex and people don’t get how easy it is to just upload a pdf and start using solutions like Fieldwire. It’s great for my workers. When they finish a job, they take a picture and there’s a timestamp, so there’s no arguing. Sometimes when we work out-of-state, by the time we come back there’s walls and we can cover our backs because we have the proof with a timestamp.

Aside from Fieldwire, what are some of the technologies that you use in your line of work?

  • Waze is huge, we’re in Chicago and any minutes we can save from the commute is money in our pockets. Running 12 guys and saving 10 minutes out of their commutes every day x 5, it adds up pretty quick.

  • Google Sheets we use to keep track of our tools. When anyone moves a tool, they mark the new location on the tracker so it’s essential to keep track of 40+ ladders and specialized tools.

  • We use My Time Station as well, if you’re not familiar it’s a mobile punch card that GPS stamps you when you punch in and out.

Are there any technologies that are coming out that you’re excited to see in the next few years?

Big Data, we use Upserve and it takes all data from your point of sales and incorporates it with Google data, like weather. It then gives you contextual insights about your business, for example at 4PM your enchiladas sell great. Big Data for smaller businesses is something that I’m excited to see more widely adopted.

Last question, how would you pitch Fieldwire to someone in your industry?

Fieldwire takes the chaos out of construction, I’ve never had a more manageable view. I can only imagine how good this would be for a GC managing a bunch of trades in the field.


Product Spotlight: UAV Drones in Construction

DavidroundDavid Vasquez
Head of Customer Support

One day, the machines are going to come for us. Skynet, the Matrix, it doesn’t matter whichever cold, remorseless machine system it ends up being. It’s going to happen, simple as that. So why spend time worrying about the inevitable when you could be living it up in the time we have left instead? Some of these machines are actually pretty handy, and at Fieldwire, we welcome our future robot overlords. Construction drones are revolutionizing how construction, landscaping, and development teams are doing their work, and we wanted to clue you in on a few of the big names who have made it their mission to improve your on-site efficiency. See, these robots aren’t so bad after all! Might as well make friends today before they rise up tomorrow.

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The folks over at Skycatch have embraced the future and ushered in a new way to gather field data. Their team of roboticists and engineers have created a product that will “deliver actionable intelligence” to your project, and for a company that’s only a couple years old, they’ve been making a lot of noise. Skycatch utilizes their fleet of in-house UAV drones for construction site monitoring and capturing visual data from above to measure area, terrain, and safety so that you can plan smarter as you go. Their construction drones can hit speeds up to 50 mph and are dustproof, waterproof, and generally built to withstand the rough industrial environments you’ll be inviting them into. This kind of durable, adaptive equipment is pretty spiffy, and requires no special training to operate. Skycatch offers its users their COMMANDER app to control UAV drone navigation, and once your data has been collected from the construction sites, you can measure, share, and organize it with their Dashboard interface.

Skycatch is blazing a trail through the air above your construction sites, mapping everything and measuring progress and topography at a consistent elevation. These construction drones have automatic collision avoidance as well, so you don’t have to worry about banging it into something and angering the robot gods (or your wallet). There will be more drones in construction industry settings thanks to teams like the one at Skycatch. They’re a bright, hungry team just waiting to show you a new perspective on your work.

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Another innovative company spearheading the construction drone movement is Airphrame, and they’ve made it so you don’t need to operate any equipment yourself. Their UAV drones will soar over your construction sites to digitally survey the landscape and acquire geospatial data that you can then put to good use. They have several packages for you to choose from: 2D maps, 3D point clouds, and aerial photo sets. The 2D maps give a flat, straight-down perspective, which is good for construction site planning and surface assessments, while the 3D point cloud renders the entire area in XYZ axises and can help you with volume/height measurements and terrain modelling. Aerial photography is great for inspections and analyzing progress and site conditions. All data gets hosted online, so you can easily access and download it anytime. Using drones in surveying capacities suddenly becomes a no-brainer.

Remote inspections with Airphrame’s construction drones will save you time and effort while providing a bird’s eye view of your construction sites that you could never achieve on the ground. Using a drone in construction inspections doesn't have to be a daunting concept with a team like this guiding your way. They deliver quality visuals shaped around your specifications, so consider looking into this company for your mapping, photography, and construction site monitoring needs.

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Our final spotlight is turned upward at DroneDeploy, a promising young company looking to escort you into the commercial drone industry. They’ve recently launched Map Engine, a beta version of their easy-to-use mapping software that is compatible with any UAV drone you might own. Use their simplified app on a drone flight to capture images of your construction sites and upload them. They’ll be automatically processed and assembled into a map, which you can then crop and share as you like. The maps and 3D models that you can create using DroneDeploy have tremendous potential value for your project, and there’s no setup or extra equipment necessary (although it seems you do need to already own your own construction drones). The entire process takes minutes, delivering your data to you after a handful of clicks.

This autonomous method of construction drone use makes it wickedly easy to get results fast and accurate, and might be ideal for those who aren’t the most tech savvy. There’s a lot of potential for DroneDeploy down the road, and they're only going to help foster drones for construction sites more and more as time passes, so trying it out while it’s still in the early stages might be an easy way of onboarding your crew.

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Drones in construction have a large, diverse role to play in our future, and they’ve already found a strong niche in present-day construction. One day these all-seeing robots may have death rays mounted on them, but today they come equipped with cameras and sensors ready to build a mockup of your team’s achievements. Surveying construction sites on foot is a long, tedious prospect that swallows up time and money. Construction drones have dramatically diminished those costs, turning surveys into a largely automated process accomplished with a fraction of that effort. Those firms that start building a UAV army of their own will position themselves for success across (and above) their construction sites, while those who resist these modern touches might end up wishing they'd used drones down the line. Check out these exciting companies for yourself and put the technology of tomorrow to work for you today.

We at Fieldwire fully endorse drones in construction, and not out of fear of our future robot masters. We swear. Check out our app as well on Apple iOS, Android, and on the web - our service is free for small teams! We already support 1,000+ companies across 35,000+ projects, and we’d love for you to join us!

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