Time on Your Side

June 24, 2013

Time tracking is a process that is about as engrained into construction as the workers and materials used on a project. The ability to effectively track workers’ time can help keep most projects on schedule and under budget. But the technology necessary to do so hasn’t always been the most robust. That is all beginning to change.

As mobile solutions become slicker and the devices transform to be more feature rich in nature, it is only natural that critical tasks like time tracking improve as a result. We are seeing an influx of new solutions designed to help track time, a process that according to results of the newly released 2013 Constructech IT Playbook is one many construction professionals plan to migrate to an app in the next 12 months.  

While we continue to see an influx of new apps, companies such as AboutTime Technologies, www.abouttimetech.com, Payson, Utah, have been serving the time-tracking needs of construction for quite some time. Its mobile time tracking and project-management technology have been designed to run natively across the major mobile operating systems: iOS, Android, Windows, and BlackBerry. This is important to note as it means devices need not be connected in order to run the full range of capabilities—a vital note when working in areas with little or no coverage.

The company has also made dedicated efforts to ensuring the data being collected in done so in the most valuable and relevant manner for users. For example, with the set of apps from AboutTime Technologies, all data being collected is sent to AboutTime’s database, which is a SQL backend. From here, this allows users to use crystal reports or SQL report writing tools to access the data.

AboutTime Technologies is certainly at the forefront of the mobile evolution in construction, but we are also seeing a plethora of new companies looking capture marketshare in construction. Take the company TimeTac, www.timetac.com, with offices in the UK and the United States, for example. It is looking to leverage NFC (near-field communication) technology in order to help improve the process of tracking time in construction.

Based on a set of networking and communications standards, NFC refers to establishing radio communication between devices for the purposes of data exchange. The use of NFC has been most notable in industries like retail and even healthcare, but we are also beginning to see some interest for certain processes in construction.

For purposes of time tracking from a terminal, TimeTac offers a way to swipe the transponder, for example a key ring, across a reader unit, which initiates time tracking automatically. The company points to other benefits, such as the ability for companies to stay informed as to which employees are on duty. This process is enabled, according to the company, by combining NFC with the GPS-function in a smartphone.

While the uptake of NFC has been sporadic at best across the market, it will be interesting to see if the technology can find a home in construction for the purposes of time tracking. Above all, it is safe to say the technology is definitely improving, which means the process of tracking time is in for quite the improvement for the long term.