In one of the recent posts on our blog we mentioned an article that appeared on techcrunch.com – about PlanGrid.com and its iPAD app and e-planroom service – and, quite a number of people who read the article on techcrunch posted comments to that article, and some of those commenting mentioned different software programs for the A/E/C field, related to document management and construction management. We thought we’d take just a few minutes to mention some of the “software solutions” mentioned in those comments.
First up, Fasttac.com was mentioned in the string of comments:
We previously (in the summer, last year) wrote an article about Fasttac.com on our blog, and here’s a link to that previous article (the title of the articles is an active link):
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10, 2011
The information we provided, last year, indicated that Fasttac had, in May 2010, entered into a “reseller” agreement with BW Reprographics, Inc. In late 2011, Bruce Wiener, founder and President of BW Reprographics, joined ABC Imaging’s team. When I checked, today, to see who Fasttac’s current resellers are, Fasttac lists MS Dallas (TX), SE Blueprint (OH), and BlueBoy Document Imaging (DC area) as its resellers. BW Reprographics is no longer listed as one of the resellers.
From the comments section I mentioned, the commenter provides links to a couple of videos about Fasttac:
Second up, Archello was mentioned in the string of comments:
“It's already available, Brendan and Vadim. Archello allows architects/contractors/engineers to upload their 3d models of a project so that clients can see the project either in Google Earth, in white space or augmented reality. The idea is that they can send a proposal to a client, Skype with them and at the same time have the 3d model in augmented reality sitting on the boardroom table. To see the augmented reality I recommend you visit this project for a great example”: This commenter provided this link:
Next up, Layar was mentioned in the string of comments:
“@Mark: it's very cool but not what I meant. You know Layar, the augmented reality browser (comes from your backyard BTW)? Well, suppose you have a CAD drawing, which you can load into a plug-in connected to it. Layar will show the reality and the CAD drawing will be rendered on top. It will probably take some games to superimpose it correctly, but when it's done, the app can, say, highlight mismatches in red to draw attention to potential flaws.” (I don’t have a link to post to get you to Layar.)
Next up, snapca.com was mentioned in the string of comments:
“there's some truth in the story, but as many people have noted below, most projects (no matter the size) aren't nearly as neat or tidy. Like a few others, my own frustrations over 20 years of building structures has been distilled into a web-based PM app - feel free to check it out at snapca.com. We're building it into a communications app, trying to create a simple platform where all parties in the construction process can resolve issues that come up. We're creating it as a 'build something simple first, then add on as you get more feedback from users' type project. We'd love any feedback, especially from tech-crunch users.
Next up, geedra.com was mentioned in the string of comments:
“we're working on a web app for managing construction photos called geedra. I invite you to sign up for a free account and share your feedback.”
“I too think that the iPad holds great promise for the construction industry. However, apps designed to bring the design and project management functions ever closer to the jobsite ignore the true root cause of inefficiency in construction. The real problem lies in getting data FROM the jobsite that can be applied towards improving efficiency and lowering the cost of construction and post construction. It's standard practice in construction to set aside a 15% contingency budget to deal with cost overruns. Despite big advances in design technology over the past few years, I don't see many project managers backing off on their contingencies just yet. Readers of this blog can sympathize with this analogy of construction's core problem; each project is like a startup that gets blown up after building the prototype. Unique organizations are established with different combinations of contractors / architects / subcontractors, so that it's next to impossible to generate any operational efficiency. Meanwhile, the pace of construction moves so fast that it's difficult to accurately record as-built conditions or construction processes in a consistent manner making post construction analysis difficult. Geedra's premise is that digital photos and video represent the best chance at a universal solution to ground-level data collection as they can indiscriminately capture information that would be otherwise inaccessible to managers and other interested parties. This media-data can then be repurposed many times over and applied towards greater efficiency in process improvement, warranty investigations, dispute resolution and facilities management. As the best practices for media-data acquisition and exploitation continue to evolve, the construction industry as a whole will finally make strides in improving the productivity losses that have dogged it for the last 50 years.”
Next up, permit-tracker.com was mentioned in the string of comments:
“Ryan said,...but as time goes on we will undoubtedly see more and more useful tools come to market. Sharing information on the cloud can indeed help even before going to the job site. A sub shows up to do their part and finds that an inspection hasn't been performed for the step needed before their job can start. I can't hang the ceiling until the inspector signs off on the mechanical, plumbing, or electrical work the ceiling will cover. Tablets can be used with our latest version of Permit Tracker (Permit-Tracker.com) for just this reason. The engineer can include log-ins for all others on the project so they can see and update the steps in progress and know where everything stands in real-time.
This commenter had some overall comments to make:
“Paweł Woźniak, I have been a superintendent, a project manager, an estimator, a purchasing agent, a general manager and the owner of a construction company (over 30 years in all)...no one ever stands at a plan table in a field office for longer than about 10 minutes at any one time. They find their information and move on.
The systems mentioned earlier also work with a keyboard and mouse! User's option.
The system you saw is not for the designers, it is for the users of the information created by the designers. The portable units mentioned are the more than 70 offerings reported in USA Today on March 9th that are light weight, durable and provide touch capability. Most of the people I've dealt with in the construction field are afraid of all computers, they think that a windows tree is something that grows, and would not ever consider using a keyboard shortcut (they don't know what it is). This group constitutes over 85% of the users of the information that designers create...you are one of the 15% who may need other tools.
Why should the AEC Industry not communicate better, not collaborate better and not coordinate better just because paper is more comfortable? The industry deserves real efficiency tools...paper is no longer one of them!”
And, finally, this commenter mentioned a product called skitch and he referred to “visual communication” as the best way to communicate problems in construction:
“It is not just the tablet. Here is an example of how both the tablets and even the smart phones can transform construction (and other industries). It is called Visual Communication, which is the fastest and most efficient form of communication for humans. All the examples you will see at this link took less than 40 seconds to create, and they communicate a large amount of information. One of them is a real construction example in our office.”