The Power of Innovation:
Embracing Tablet Technology in Military Healthcare Construction
Through the use of PC tablets or iPads, there are numerous capabilities and benefits available that can further improve the construction management of military healthcare facility projects.
By Maj. Edwin H. Rodriguez, USA
A construction project, particularly one as delicate as a medical healthcare facility, is a large and incredibly complex undertaking. Successful execution demands sharing of responsibility, considerable planning, and highly effective, constant coordination and communication.
The time schedule of a construction site’s production environment is extremely tight, as deadlines are missed or overshot. Then there are budgetary concerns and constraints to deal with, in addition to the necessary coordination between program managers, superintendents, and construction supervisors.
Coordination between everyone involved is crucial so that building activities can be properly planned and completed. These activities then need to be balanced with inspections, safety and environmental controls, and the documentation and follow up of all activities, both ongoing ones and completed ones. Furthermore, these team members have to juggle orders for building materials and equipment from within their offices onsite, in addition to dealing with the flow of digital drawings between the design engineers and the architects while they send emails about pending work to subcontractors and draft reports about all deviations from the original construction plan and budget. Finally, there are the inevitable production meetings at day end…every day. These are then transcribed and emailed to everyone who holds an interest in the project. Suffice it to say, that for a construction project to be successfully realized, a host of information—both reliable and up-to-date—is absolutely essential. Further compounding the problem of course, is the fact that a whole range of software, communication tools and shared storage servers is used to maintain the flow of information.
Yet, this collection of information is indispensable because it helps solve all or most on site issues and problems that arise during construction. Nonetheless, project managers and construction crews have time and again encountered problems and mistakes that occur in the prevalent system, no matter how cautious they are. The challenge is to discover a solution that allows optimum productivity and efficiency during a construction project, with the bare minimum of mishaps, problems and human errors.
SOLUTIONS IN TECHNOLOGY
The recent approval of the Apple iOS 6 Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG) by the Defense Information Systems Agency has allowed for the development of an environment that supports a wide variety of operating systems and devices, while catering to multiple vendors.
The solution for the construction industry lies in the host of tablet devices currently available on the CHESS Catalogue (Computer Hardware, Enterprise Software and Solutions). Each of these tablets is highly capable of being integrated into the existing system, having adequately fulfilled the baseline requirements for security, the Trade Act agreement, and for environmental protection.
These PC tablets can be incredibly effective solutions as they provide real-time critical data, thus reducing considerably the time needed to spend on various construction-related activities. Additionally, these tablets incorporate innovative software solutions and applications that project managers favor given their user-friendly design.
Furthermore, construction site managers have constant access to accurate and reliable data, and can make their decisions confidently with the knowledge that the entire team is using the very same information. Project managers can use this software to gain access to information about ongoing and past projects.
THE BENEFITS OF TABLETS
The apps available with PC tablets offer a range of fundamental benefits that facilitate the complex job of a construction project manager.
- Instant Access. The construction crew can use apps that allow the hosting and sharing of data, such as Dropbox and Google Drive, to instantly access construction documents, including site plans, floor plans, purchase orders, colors, and selections.
- Remote Access. Further benefits can be enjoyed through easy remote access, through the tablet, to data such as accounting, estimating, project management systems, purchasing, schedule and workflow.
- Remote Meetings. Construction site personnel no longer need to cross the entire length of a project site to meet with another. They can set up face to face meetings through video conferencing via apps such as Skype and Apple’s Face-Time to enhance coordination between builders, suppliers, supervisors and trade partners.
- Quality Control. Instant field reports and virtual quality control combine to spell bliss for the construction industry, as a superintendent can simply take a problem area’s photograph with the tablet’s camera and email it to everyone concerned along with their notes and plans.
- Enhanced Efficiency. The PC tablets streamline the construction project by increasing productivity through constantly effective communication, improved time and budget management, and by reducing costs through shorter travel times and minimization of errors.
A construction project, so equipped with the right PC tablet and the accompanying operation system, apps and software, can be brought to successful conclusion with minimized risks, proactive management, on budget and in deadline schedules, and maximized profitability.
The technology now is here. So too is the reason to utilize it.