CBO highlights 10 apps that will enhance productivity and communication in the field and on the go.

We’ve been talking quite a bit about the popularity of mobile technology, rugged technology and the BYOD (bring your own device) trend at workplaces here at Construction Business Owner. There are many ways in which both consumer mobile devices and specialized industry devices can improve efficiency in any workplace, but this is especially true for construction. Here are 10 mobile apps that are well suited to serve the construction industry, whether they provide practical solutions in the field or help to keep business owners informed while traveling.

JD LinkJDLink
By John Deere
Free (works with paid JDLink account)
Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
JDLink works with John Deere equipment by communicating with devices installed in Deere machines to provide a wealth of usage information. For example, it allows you to keep track of where your equipment is, when it has been used and even when coolant needs to be checked. It will also alert you to suspicious activity, such as activation outside of business hours or movement beyond the bounds of a predefined area.

BIMx
By Graphisoft SE
Free (works with paid ArchiCAD software)
Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Though designed primarily for architects, Graphisoft’s BIM software can easily be applied to construction as well. Through BIMx, the company’s BIM app, users can access full 3-D modeling on their mobile devices to review and explore fully rendered 3-D plans with video game-like navigation.

Buzzsaw
By Autodesk
Free (works with paid Buzzsaw software)
Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Autodesk’s Buzzsaw software is a BIM solution that stores project files in the cloud. The Buzzsaw app allows project team members to access floor plans on their mobile devices. With the ability to pull project files and communicate with office personnel from anywhere, the workflow process is streamlined. Additionally, problems can be addressed in the digital realm before they become issues in the field.

Control Center 7
By EarthCam
Free (works with paid EarthCam equipment)
Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
EarthCam is a company that provides its clients with cameras and software to monitor jobsites from the office. With the company’s mobile app, clients can check on projects from anywhere. Simply log in with your account information, and access the recent images your EarthCam cameras have fed your account.


 

DeWALT Mobile Pro
By DeWALT
Free (paid add-ons available)
iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
The DeWALT app is a versatile calculator for construction professionals. At its most basic level, it allows for calculation using standard units of length and volume. However, it also provides more advanced calculators for materials and other jobsite needs. For example, the app’s drywall calculator will help you determine how many drywall boards of a certain size (or how many total feet of drywall) will be needed, along with the corresponding number of nails, screws and tape necessary, and the results even take waste factor into account. Paid add-ons include calculators for a wider range of needs, including electrical wiring, vehicle management and more.

FormMobi
By a la mode
Part of paid monthly FormMobi plan
Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Designed for any profession that has employees on the road or in the field, FormMobi is based on a customizable form system so that virtually any type of information can be recorded onsite and communicated to the office in a wide range of file formats. It also has an array of features accompanying the forms, such as the ability to take and attach photographs, record voice memos and sign off with a digital signature. For construction professionals, the app also has an integrated CAD program.

JDLink
By John Deere
Free (works with paid JDLink account)
Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
JDLink works with John Deere equipment by communicating with devices installed in Deere machines to provide a wealth of usage information. For example, it allows you to keep track of where your equipment is, when it has been used and even when coolant needs to be checked. It will also alert you to suspicious activity, such as activation outside of business hours or movement beyond the bounds of a predefined area.

PlanGrid
By Loupe
Free for first 50 documents. Monthly plans available for additional usage.
iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Similar to Buzzsaw, PlanGrid is a cloud-based app that allows construction businesses to store project plans and push them to employees’ mobile devices. The PlanGrid app works only with PDF files, but the upload and download processes are quick and easy. Additionally, notes can be added to plans on either end of use—from the mobile device on the ground or the computer in the office—and project files will be adjusted for all users accordingly.

ProntoForms
By TrueContext
Part of paid monthly ProntoForms plan
Android, Blackberry, HP webOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Windows Phone
ProntoForms operates on the premise that electronic record keeping is more reliable and efficient than paper-based systems. This turns out to be especially true for the construction industry, where field personnel are not only physically displaced from the office but are in an environment in which paperwork often gets lost or destroyed. With the ProntoForms app, field data can be entered into mobile devices, which send the information to the office. Likewise, office personnel can send work orders to mobile devices in the field.

sightLevel
By Auman Software
Free (optional paid “Pro” upgrade available)
iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
The sightLevel app is a virtual laser level. It allows users to measure the tilt of any structure by viewing the object through the camera of the mobile device and measuring the angle against a virtual laser on the screen. Additionally, with simulated bubble window indicators, the app can also function as a simple carpenter’s level.

TurboViewer
By IMSI/Design
Free (optional paid “X” and “Pro” upgrades available)
Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
For anyone who needs to view CAD files in DWG format away from the office, TurboViewer allows you to open DWG file types (2-D and 3-D) on your iOS or Android device. Upon download, all files are accessible via the app’s home screen. TurboViewer is surprisingly fast as well, allowing zooming and rotating of complex 3-D schematics with virtually no slowdown.

Do you have a favorite construction app? We want to hear about it! Email associate editor Robert Ring at rring@cahabamedia.com, and it may be included in the next installment of  “There’s a Construction App for That.”