By Gage Vincent, Project Engineer

Preplanning is critical to the success of a construction project. One aspect of the preplanning is creating the schedule. An accurate schedule ensures success from the preconstruction phase, all the way through to final completion.

I was recently working on a large ($12.8 million) project that utilized nearly a dozen subcontractors and had as many as 50 craft workers onsite at one time. Through the course of the project, scope of work changed. Over 60 change orders were added, increasing the value of the project by $1.2 million. Because of the magnitude and variation throughout this project, we experienced a very fluid and dynamic schedule that required constant revision.

With all those schedule revisions, we experienced a challenge in ensuring all our subcontractors and craft workers were informed of the changes. Traditional methods of schedule updates, such as printing out three-week forecasts and creating story board time lines, were becoming more and more difficult to maintain. The printed schedules became outdated before the first week was over, and using post cards on the story board was a very time consuming strategy. We needed a system that was easier to update on a regular basis, without having so much waste involved.

Our solution was to purchase and install a compact desktop computer with a large screen TV monitor, and wall mount it in the jobsite office trailer. The display allows any personnel on the jobsite to conveniently view our schedule throughout the day. We utilize it with our foreman during weekly safety meetings and daily crew huddles, and with our subcontractors/owners during our weekly progress meetings.

The primary benefit of having this system is the simplicity of updating the documents. By syncing our individual computers via Dropbox and other share file programs, we can update the documents from any location and display them on the jobsite’s office screen. The incorporation of technology saves time during the planning and revising of our schedules, and has eliminated wasteful paper copies of documents each week. Other benefits that we have taken from this include the ability to access construction documents on the company server, such as RFI’s and submittals, which is a very helpful tool when we are reviewing documents as a group. Implementing this system has had a great impact on our project planning thus far, and we are continuing to develop it further as more opportunities arise.