Going Mobile

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    Rugged smartphones maintain full functionality even in the most trying work conditions.
    Photo: Cat Phones

    For years the U.S. labor industry has seen a steady decrease in productivity among workers specifically those in construction. Paul Teicholz Ph.D. civil and environmental engineering research Professor Emeritus at Stanford University determined in a study that there has been an overall decrease in the U.S. construction industry’s labor output estimating a decline of about 0.32 percent each year from 1964 to 2012. Additionally the study reported that from 2007 to 2012 there was a decrease in hours worked within the construction industry estimating a drop of 11.4 billion hours or a 26 percent decrease from the previous years.

    These data offer a basis for a much-needed conversation about the ways management and technology impact productivity in the construction and engineering industries.

    Mobile solution to declining productivity

    According to an AppsFreedom report (www.appsfreedom.com/mobile-workforce-increasing-productivity-manufacturing), 84 percent of all companies who view themselves as cutting-edge in mobility report an increase in overall productivity as a direct result of incorporating mobile apps into their business. Aberdeen Group published findings (www.aberdeen.com/research/10513/10513-RR-technician-future-service.aspx/content.aspx) stating that 82 percent of field service organizations acknowledged mobile capabilities as pertinent to their overall strategy. These mobile capabilities enable real-time intelligence that better aid workers with problem solving and decisions to ultimately benefit their customers.

    Particularly for engineers — who face a wide range of job requirements, including surveying potential hazardous construction zones, inspecting offshore oil barges, and even managing projects from behind a desk — mobility can offer a way to seamlessly stay on top of demands, follow protocol, and log site information.

    Furthermore, mobility offers the ability to connect workers with each other at a moment’s notice and enables immediate communication in order to determine the best solutions to manage and fix problems instantaneously. For example, a civil engineer surveying and monitoring the placement of pipelines along the sea floor needs to be in constant communication with the pipeline engineers and workers to follow strict guidelines and maintain a safe working environment.

    In another scenario, contractors are required to manage and survey sites to accurately report back and determine next steps. It becomes imperative for workers to efficiently log and track daily tasks, whether it’s from behind a desk or underneath a bridge calculating the appropriate data.

    Mobile devices can track geological locations, snap photos of worksites, analyze material, and send essential files with a click of a button. These are just a few mobile capabilities that specifically assist contractors and engineers.

    Go mobile, go rugged
    Engineers, contractors, and construction workers demand high-quality technology that provides protection and efficiency to weather the elements on and off the job site.
    Photo: Panasonic

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts civil engineering jobs will increase by 20 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all professions. This prediction means more employees will be contracted to develop, structure, and rebuild infrastructure. As a result, we will need more tools and solutions to help them do their jobs better and faster.

    Industry leaders are beginning to implement engineering-specific technology solutions that are built with rugged working environments in mind. Engineers, contractors, and construction workers demand high-quality technology that provides protection and efficiency to weather the elements on and off the job site. As a result of the job boom and demand for the proper technology for the job, the ruggedized mobile device market is projected to grow by a compound annual growth rate of 2 percent in just a few short years — from 1.5 million units to 1.6 million units shipped in 2018, according to a recent report from IDC Research.

    Rugged smartphones, such as Cat Phones, and tablets, such as the Panasonic Toughpad, are designed for use in tough, outdoor environments. These devices can withstand drops and scratches, be exposed to high temperatures, are water resistant, and maintain high-quality performance in rough terrain on day-to-day tasks. They are built for a rugged, hands-on approach to work, yet maintain full functionality even in the most trying work conditions.

    Businesses must prepare for growth within their companies while addressing challenges head on. As productivity in construction and engineering declines, more civil and structural engineering organizations are adopting guidelines that provide employees with mobile devices in order to maintain efficiency, boost communication with workers, and increase productivity in the workforce.

    Theresa Cangialosi is the general manager and vice president of sales and marketing in North America at Bullitt Group, which designs, manufactures, markets, and sells mobile phones and consumer electronic products in partnership with global brands. Previously, Cangialosi was director of strategic accounts for Kyocera and prior to that spent two years at Huawei as director of sales and nine years at LG Electronics. For more information, visit www.catphones.com