How tablets transform construction sites by giving universal access to models and enabling real-time cross-team collaboration
As I wrote this article, I sat in a hospital waiting room, amazed by how many computers and tablets (the generic PC type, not the medicinal type) the doctors and nurses have access to. It made me think about how Adam Kay described technology in This is Going to Hurt by having one, maybe two, computers across the entire ward. However, they were on wheels…
I then thought about construction sites and how familiar that scenario sounds. The difference here is that the book’s setting is around 2004-2010, and I am talking about construction sites in 2021.
I think back to 2016 and the government’s mandate on BIM and how, around this time, every presentation contained a slide that showed how “even farming” was embracing technology better than construction was.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen Countryfile and how farms embrace autonomous vehicles and machinery with sensors giving real-time feedback to the mechanics who know when a fault is about to occur before it happens. But let’s not forget that a lot of farming still involves the farmer and their dog chasing sheep around a field. So I guess it does depend on where you look.
Which again makes me think about construction. The funny thing about those presentations telling everyone how construction is behind farming when it comes to technology is that these presentations were all given using some form of technology.
I’ve been in the industry for 15 years and there has never been a time where I did not have a computer to do my work. If a drawing needed updating, I didn’t have to get out a scalpel and scrape away at the pencil lines to redraw it; I simply picked the line and moved it to its new location. Tell me that isn’t progress?
But what about construction sites?
Where do construction sites stack up against design offices? Some of the best uses of technology in the industry can be found on and around construction sites. We have 4D simulations showing us exactly how intended construction methods will be carried out against the programme.
We have seen Virtual Reality used in site inductions and health and safety training. We have immersive rooms that enable building users to get a real feel for the space before it is physically built. These options allow for immediate decision making without impacting the team’s progress at the site. But there are limitations to this and the ease of implementing these kinds of technology on a job site.
So let us take a step back and look at 3D models or even just 2D drawings. While daily site briefings might involve someone flying around the 3D model, it always includes someone using printed drawings to outline where work needs to be carried out – and generally includes a highlighter pen.
This is fine; it works. But taking this out on job sites can be challenging. If more than one person wants to see it simultaneously, but they are at completely different ends of the site, it is almost impossible and wastes valuable time. But what if we embraced technology? What if the site teams had access to all the drawings and models while out on site? I am not talking about the “BIM Station” in the corner that needs an electricity supply and an internet connection. I am talking about a tablet PC.
The tablet PC (Apple iPad, Microsoft Surface Pro, Samsung Galaxy Tab etc.) is bigger than a smartphone but smaller than a laptop and weighs around 500g. It is a touchscreen and very simple to use (my 80-year-old nan is a dab hand at using hers) and they are surprisingly powerful for their size and continuously getting more powerful. They are getting more and more affordable as well.
A top of the range tablet costs about the same as a low end, competent, laptop and there isn’t much that a laptop can do that a tablet can’t. But a tablet can offer mobility and accessibility in ways that laptops or desktop computers can’t. A tablet can fit in your pocket or your toolbelt/toolbox. With the proper care, they are also incredibly hard-wearing, which is perfect for when they are being thrown around and are subject to damage or a lot of dust.
Add into the mix applications like Revizto and you can have access to the 3D models, including point clouds, 2D drawings and create and comment on issues directly from the site. You don’t need to take pictures and come back to the office to upload them. You don’t need to come back to the office to get that drawing you forgot to print out before going out to the site in the morning. You don’t need to phone up someone in the office asking them to confirm a dimension before installing something.
Everything you need is available to you in the device that you can carry around in your toolkit. The other huge benefit that tools like Revizto give you is full offline access. More and more sites now offer wi-fi, but it may not always be reliable.
Just because there is no wi-fi in the area you are working in shouldn’t mean that you don’t have access to the same information. Revizto offers almost full capabilities even without an internet connection. Once you regain internet access, Revizto will automatically update the information you may have added or changed, meaning that nothing is lost.
Tablets on site are a complete game-changer for how people access information. With the right applications, everything that you need is available when you need it. Collaboration doesn’t stop in the office; it is just as important out on site. With an Integrated Collaboration Platform like Revizto on your tablet, pretty much everything is just a few clicks away.
Learn more at revizto5.com
Construction ISM | EMEA
Tel: +44 203 808 9239
Please note: this is a commercial profile.