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Last updateFri, 18 Aug 2017 9am

Technology

Right on Schedule

The market for scheduling software in construction remains in a constant state of flux. As such, contractors try to juggle their options as best they can, amid the changing landscape. While a few legacy systems may no longer be an option for construction, other new players might step up to fill the need.

One such provider is Phoenix Project Management Systems, www.phoenixcpm.com, Salt Lake City, Utah. The company recently announced a new capability called Phoenix "WorkStream" to its Phoenix Project Manager. According to the company, this upgrade is intended to reduce common complexities in the scheduling process by as much as 40% or 50%.

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The Tools to Serve the Homebuyer

So you have a CRM (customer-relationship management) system in place, and your Website is fully optimized around all the key search terms. However, that doesn’t mean you have all the bases covered when it comes to serving your buyers—or would-be buyers. Today, homebuyers are looking for that customized service when it comes to selecting home plans, features, and options. Luckily more technology tools are emerging that can help builders better serve this demand.

For example, there is SalesTouch from Computer Presentation Systems, www.cpsusa.com, Rancho Cordova, Calif. Built to be a realtime sales tool for homebuilders this product can be placed within sales and leasing offices, offering an interactive touchscreen that can actively engage homebuyers. The key here is customization, and the SalesTouch software can be customized for each client and will often include many interactive media tools, including images and video about the community, floor plans, options/upgrades, structural options, interactive sitemaps, “behind-the-walls” information, and even local amenities. Such a tool can be ideal for buyers as it allows them to select and place furniture on a model, markup floor plans, and then email or print a customized color brochure.

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Ramping Up with RFID

The use of RFID (radio-frequency identification) in the construction industry has many appeals: tracking where tools are located; managing materials throughout the supply chain; and monitoring the workforce in order to make better decisions. For years, contractors and industry professionals have discussed the benefits of such technology in the building market, but only a few construction leaders have implemented the technology into processes. But is this all about to change?

As the price of RFID tags continues to come down and become more affordable, construction software providers are able to develop new and innovative ways to use RFID in construction. Case in point: tool-tracking and workforce-monitoring technology providers continue to come to market with enhanced solutions with RFID.

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BIM Handles the Heavy Lifting

Model once, build once. A variation on the old saying 'measure twice, cut once'; might someday be adopted in the construction industry as it relates to BIM (building information modeling). Project teams are realizing that when it comes to building complex structures, the idea of being able to 'build' it virtually has reduced much headache, concern, and perhaps most important, cost.

One of the more infamous examples is that of the Frederic C. Hamilton Building, an expansion of the Denver Art Museum that opened in October 2006. The project called for the use of more than 2,750 tons of steel—three times the amount for a conventional building of its size--and 50,000 bolts. L.P.R. Construction, www.lprconstruction.com, Loveland, Colo., the steel erector on the job, leveraged 3D modeling technology to simulate erecting the angular skeleton of the facility prior to coming on site.

By L.P.R.’s estimation, the use of these technology tools saved the field staff thousands of hours throughout the project. The software was able to pinpoint the exact center of gravity, giving much needed control over the angle which components were suspended while being erected. Having such control also mitigated a potentially dangerous scenario of trying to force drastically sloped steel configurations together perilously high in the air.

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Analyzing Construction Acquisitions

In the past year, the construction industry has experienced a heavy stream of M&A (merger and acquisition) activity, which has ultimately reduced the number of providers on the market. Some industry experts suggest the consolidation will allow the big technology providers to offer integrated solutions that will enable the industry to take BIM (building information modeling) to the field or even integrate data from design through operations. Still, consolidation means fewer options for the industry. Could now be a good time for new tech providers to enter the market?

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The Future of ERP

Are you taking full advantage of all the capabilities your ERP (enterprise-resource planning) software has to offer? With trends like mobile, collaboration, and the cloud all big talking points in the construction industry, ERP applications continue to advance, allowing contractors to do more with the technology than ever before.

Take the recent partnership between Computer Guidance Corp., www.computerguidance.com, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Trimble Navigation, www.trimble.com, Sunnyvale, Calif., as an example. Last week, the companies announced integration between software, connecting data from Trimble’s positioning solutions in the field with Computer Guidance’s ERP software in the backoffice.

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Trimble Acquires Vico Software

In the past year, commercial contractors have seen quite a bit of consolidation among some of the top technology players in the construction industry. Today, the market continues to shrink, as Trimble, www.trimble.com, Sunnyvale, Calif., announces another acquisition in the construction-software space.

Trimble has acquired assets of Vico Software, www.vicosoftware.com, Boulder, Colo., which provides 5D virtual construction software and consulting services. This adds to Trimble’s portfolio, which also includes WinEst’s Modelogix for conceptual cost estimating.

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On Center and Viewpoint Partner

When technology providers partner construction companies benefit. Integrated software offerings allow contractors to increase efficiencies in the backoffice. Case in point: Sharing estimating and digital-takeoff data with ERP (enterprise-resource planning) and accounting software can enable contractors to win more projects and more efficiently manage processes.

One recent construction-technology partnership comes from On Center Software, www.oncenter.com, The Woodlands, Texas, and Viewpoint Construction Software, www.viewpointcs.com, Portland, Ore.

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Prefab Meets Green

The method by which homes are being built today differ from years past. With designs moving away from the “McMansion” layouts that were popular years ago and toward more environmentally friendly, energy-efficient plans, homebuilders are preparing for the next generation of homebuilding.

In particular, prefab building and energy-efficient designs pair nicely. One example will be on display at this year’s Greenbuild Conference, which will take place in San Francisco November 14-16. The prototype for Paradigm, the new series of prefab homes built by Method Homes, www.methodhomes.net, Seattle, Wash., will be net zero for both energy and water.

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