How an Integrated Construction Operations System Drives Performance Up
How an Integrated Construction Operations System Drives Performance Up
Disconnected software = disconnected projects, disconnected teams, and disappointing results.
When software, processes, and teams aren’t integrated, an entire enterprise can break down, or at best will suffer through inefficiency, errors, and cost overruns, with the resulting gut punch to the bottom line.
Conventional point systems — for example, siloed software applications that manage single operations like daily work logs or warehouse requisitions — just don’t cut it anymore in the construction industry. Managing complex projects with a hodge-podge of standalone programs and mobile apps that can’t communicate with each other has become as obsolete as the hand-powered drill.
Fortunately, fully integrated platforms are now available to tackle all those challenges to help construction companies stay (or become) relevant, competitive, and profitable. Integrated systems don’t just streamline complex construction processes, they consolidate management systems and communication among every department and team in your business.
These sophisticated systems enable collaboration by connecting all aspects of a project, keeping every person and function fully informed in real-time with the data they need to perform their work effectively. Equally important, integrated systems mesh seamlessly with other business management platforms used in the construction industry, such as Procore, Viewpoint Vista & Spectrum, Sage 300 CRE, and CMiC.
All around, that interconnection results in impressive savings in three critical areas:
Saves Time — Whereas point systems are not designed to share information with other software or business functions, collaborative software enables the real-time distribution of essential, granular data to everyone who needs it. Each recipient, whether person or system, gets the information they need instantaneously, with high accuracy, and with no need for time-consuming double-entry or double-checking.
In the field, workforce management becomes more comprehensive and transparent. As we described in a recent ENR article:
“Align’s operations management software, for example, integrates with Procore’s construction management platform, automating data entry for job locations and cost centers, equipment data for each unique tool, and employee data into Procore Daily Logs.
With that automatic population of instantaneous, accurate information into daily log reports, project managers can keep a firm grip on the budget and on job site productivity. When all workers in the field can access the same up-to-the-minute information, the correct tools quickly and efficiently get into the hands of the people who need them. Plus, project managers can see every asset and recover those that are no longer being used on the job site but remain there accumulating project costs.”
In practical terms, that means that because employee profiles in Procore automatically sync with Align, construction companies can see which employee has requested specific items and identify employees who are authorized to use certain types of equipment. This can save an immense amount of time and free up your administrative staff to spend more time on productivity-driving tasks.
Saves Resources — Integrated systems not only save time, but also conserve resources by avoiding lost or stolen tools and equipment, minimizing delays and inventory shortages, and even staying OSHA-compliant.
Let’s take consumables as a case in point. By definition, consumables are short-timers in the warehouse, easy to under or over-stock. Conventional spreadsheets or standalone manual-entry tracking applications are prone to simple transpositions or omissions that can lead to misplaced or misdirected transfers to the field and result in the reduction of worker productivity. Integrated systems, in contrast, notify you when consumables are running low so the field can avoid downtime.
With highly accurate, real-time consumables and tool tracking data, a company’s assets work harder. Users always know where your assets are so they can be used when needed, where needed. Built-in GPS pinpoints the location of any item, from a single screwdriver to a massive piece of heavy equipment — and whether each item is actually being used.
To harness the immense potential of interconnectedness, companies are joining forces with mutual product enhancements that give their customers unparalleled insight into their resource management. One such pairing is Align’s technology integration with DEWALT, a leading manufacturer of professional power tools, hand tools, storage, and accessories. As the pilot developer building to the DEWALT TOOL CONNECT system, Align and DEWALT are working together to improve the overall tool ownership experience. DEWALT’s BLE technology enables Align to automatically track and reassign inventory to ensure seamless inventory transfers across multiple job sites without requiring long, drawn-out processes to make sure inventory is not lost while moving between job sites. Many DEWALT customers already use the Align platform for their construction operations, making this collaboration a natural technology partnership.
Similarly, other manufacturers have begun to build in BLE functionality during their manufacturing processes to integrate with a construction company’s internal enterprise management platform at a reasonable additional cost.
Saves Money — Saving time and resources equates to saving money. Using an integrated construction operations platform to generate exacting data on tools can avoid inventory shortages, avoid tool and equipment breakdowns, reduce lost or stolen inventory, and prevent productivity delays — all of which can significantly erode your bottom line.
An integrated system supports an enhanced cost & billing process, too. Linking cost estimates to an enterprise-wide system encourages collaboration by streamlining communication around fluctuating materials prices and vendor inventory issues. The software’s fixed-rate billing capability generates a flat-rate charge for a tool when it is assigned and auto-generates a credit on return, based on a percentage of the tool's replacement value — which can be justifiably passed on to customers as appropriate.
Looking to the Future
In short, integrated systems enable faster reporting, more effective workforce management, and improved communication across the field, warehouse, and back-office teams. Building on the success of our DEWALT collaboration and many other integrations to date, Align has many new and exciting integrations coming in the remainder of 2022 and beyond, all to further improve construction operations and deliver new benefits to our customers.
As part of that initiative, Align recently acquired Safety Reports, an innovator in mobile safety management and compliance applications. Construction work consistently tops the OSHA’s rankings for workplace accidents, which is why safety is such an important component of properly running a construction company. The Safety Reports acquisition represents a significant step forward in providing our users with the most efficient, cost-effective, and safest construction operations offering in the industry today.
Stay tuned for exciting developments as Safety Reports becomes an integral part of the Align product lineup.