How Mobile is Impacting the Construction and Energy Industries

Construction worker reviewing plans on digital tablet

Construction worker reviewing plans on digital tablet

This is post #3 in a series about the impact of mobile technology on the enterprise.

In the first blog post of this series, I highlighted how mobile is changing the enterprise. The second post focused on how mobile apps have had a profound impact on role- and process-based workers, like those in the manufacturing industry. This post continues along those lines and will feature the impact of mobile applications on outdoor role-based jobs like those in the construction and energy industries.

Impact of Mobile Apps on Construction

In general, any job that is performed in the field can be positively disrupted by mobile applications to increase efficiency, worker flexibility, and collaboration. This is especially true for the construction industry, where paper blueprints and manual log sheets have prevailed for decades.

Paper blueprints are everywhere on a job site and just don’t need to be. What happens when a design needs to be modified? What if 10 people need to review a blueprint at the same time? Mobile apps like PlanGrid and BuildersCloud now allow construction workers to easily publish, sync, and share their blueprints in real-time. Changes can be logged, comments can be noted, and blueprints can be viewed on tablets and smartphones, allowing site workers to be more efficient and flexible.

Construction project management is a big problem, as dependence on paper log books and printed schedules to track supplies, labor, timelines, and many other aspects is ineffective and wasteful. In addition to custom-built software tools, mobile project management software such as BuilderTrend and Co-construct help these PMs easily track schedules, activities, deliveries, and more to keep projects on path and budgets in check.

There are also a few mobile apps for very specific construction tasks that make activities such as performing various calculations and measurements easier and minimize reliance on tape measures and calculators.

As you can see, there is a lot of potential to decrease the waste and inefficiency on construction job sites. And with the increased use of mobile applications, construction projects have a better chance to stay on time and budget.

Mobile Applications in the Energy Industry

Mobile technologies can be employed in many areas within the energy industry to increase workforce productivity and safety, capture data more efficiently, maximize asset performance, and much more.

Mobile apps are being used by oil and gas companies during the early stages of the energy development process, such as exploration and acquisition. These processes involve many types of magnetic and seismic sensors that help workers identify and evaluate potential sources of hydrocarbons on land and underwater. In the past, this data had to be logged on paper and translated to a visual representation and viewed on a workstation. Now all of this can be performed on a tablet, and as conditions change, the data can be simultaneously captured and altered in near real-time.

Construction of a well can also be improved dramatically by using mobile apps. Like mentioned in the construction section above, blueprints and project plans can be digitized for better communication and less waste.

Quality and performance monitoring is of utmost importance in the energy industry, and mobile apps can make this much easier and more accurate to ensure processes are in check and to extend the life of physical assets. For instance, mobile apps are ideal for monitoring and logging the data streaming out of the well during drilling at rig sites. Workers can also monitor the performance and life of these drills to ensure their upkeep and prevent machinery failures.

Additional uses include safety reporting, protective equipment checklists, work order management, labor management, and many other data collection applications.

Big players in the industry, such as Halliburton and Schlumberger, have developed suites of mobile apps that allow their employees and customers be more productive in the field. While limited screen size will always be an issue in an industry so dependent on visualizations and data, using mobile applications as augmentations to workstations will continue to grow and improve productivity.

As the use of mobile applications in industries like construction and energy continue to grow, field workers no longer need to be tied to workstations or carry around reams of paper. Project data and documents can be synced and shared, employees can be more productive and flexible, and projects can be completed on time and under budget.

In the next and final post of this enterprise mobile series, we’ll take a look at how companies can develop an effective enterprise mobile strategy and the issues they need to address when they mobilize their employees.

Like this post? Then follow us on Twitter – @thorntech and @mikewchan – for future updates.

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