Create Your Own Construction App

April 13, 2012

Catch on to the new trend in construction technology: create your own app. Homegrown apps could provide a good way for construction companies to access or manage data in a particular way—and on a particular device—in the field.

Vivint, www.vivint.com, Provo, Utah, a residential home-automation systems integrator, recently developed a new app in-house to increase productivity of service technicians that install and fix smart home systems including security, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), lighting, small appliances, video, and more.

Using the app, technicians can manage schedules and inventory, as well as interact with the customer service center remotely. Other functions include a mapping option that provides the best route to get to a job and a tech-locating element that allows technicians to connect with others in the area.

The app—built on HTML5—allows technicians to gather information on any Internet-enabled mobile device. The value of creating your own app is custom tailoring it to do exactly what you need it to too. For Vivint, it means being able to gain access to schedules and parts in realtime, which ultimately provides a higher level of service for the customer.

For some construction companies, building your own app may not be the best way to go—as there might already be an app on the market that suits your company’s needs. Today’s construction software providers continue to come to market with new apps designed specifically with the construction industry in mind.

Just this week, Trimble, www.trimble.com, Sunnyvale, Calif., announced a new field fitting input app for Apple’s iPad. With the app, HVAC sheetmetal contractors and fabricators can collect sheetmetal dimension data in the field and share with the fabrication shop. This will reduce the number of inaccurate dimensions that are gathered in the field and re-entered in the office.

In many cases, the benefit of an app created by a software provider is it integrates seamlessly with backoffice systems. In the case of Trimble’s new app, it integrates with Vulcan CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) software.

In years past, the big debate was whether to go with homegrown software or best-of-breed applications. In today’s age of apps and connected devices, a new question on the table is whether to build out an app yourself or find an existing one that meets your needs.