Finding the Right Construction App

November 28, 2012

Many construction companies are looking for an easier way to share project data with workers at the jobsite. Oftentimes, that data exchange comes in the form of an app. Today, construction teams can use apps to do a number of tasks in the field including: view and annotate blueprints, share design ideas, and even print from a device via a Wi-Fi connection, among many others.

This week, a number of technology providers have come to market with updated and new apps designed specifically for the construction industry.

One challenge in the construction industry today is blueprints are constantly changing—in some cases even hourly—making it difficult to stay up-to-date on revisions. In order to address this need in the construction industry, PlanGrid, www.plangrid.com, San Francisco, Calif., offers PlanGrid, which allows contractors to view, share, and annotate blueprints on an iPad. With this app, the master set is stored securely in the PlanGrid cloud, and annotations can be synced automatically from an iPad.

Today, the company unveiled the latest version—PlanGrid 2.2—with new features including timelines for project updates, automatic synchronization of personal notes, and the ability to add individual photos or groups of photos as master annotations, among other performance enhancements. The app is already used by hundreds of builders including Whiting-Turner, www.whiting-turner.com, Pleasanton, Calif., DPR Construction, www.dpr.com, Redwood City, Calif., and Webcor Builders, www.webcor.com, San Francisco, Calif.

Another challenge in the construction industry is sharing early design ideas between the office and the field. Announced at Autodesk University this week, Autodesk, www.autodesk.com, San Rafael, Calif., now offers a free mobile app that allows building design professionals to share early design ideas.

FormIt is available on the iPad and allows users to capture building ideas and support a BIM (building information modeling) workflow in the early stages of construction. Designs can be stored and shared to the cloud using Autodesk 360 Web services.

Here is another interesting new app unveiled at Autodesk University this week: Océ Publisher Mobile App for iPad. The new app, from Océ, www.oce.com, Trumbull, Conn., allows users to use an iPad to send a document to be printed on an Océ wide format printer within reach of a Wi-Fi router that is part of the company’s network. This will allow construction professionals to print documents without needing to install print drivers.

And these are just a handful of the new apps available to the construction industry. Stay tuned. Mobile technology in the construction industry is likely going to gain even more momentum in the future.