The construction business has felt the economic crunch in these tough times. Every effort is being made to trim expenses and to try and preserve the bottom line or mitigate losses.
One such expense is paper. Not the news kind but the myriad of forms, drawings, notes sketches, prints and documentation needed on a daily basis.
Checklists for daily tasks filter down from the top, gathering additional instructions with each level of management and supervision. At times, it can seem that more trees are harvested for the paper used than those turned into lumber, plywood and laminate flooring.
Just about every major construction company is converting to a minimalist paper usage model. Tablets with Wi-Fi and cellular Internet access are being rolled out to all management. Ruggedized tablets and laptops that can be dropped, kicked and submersed in water are finding their way onto individual job sites.
It used to be the project supervisor had a wooden desk made of a sheet of plywood and a couple of saw horses with the obligatory telephone sitting besides the blueprints. Now that job site will probably have a high-speed Internet connection and a Wi-Fi router for connectivity.
PDF files are passed around like the old paper path, but improved. At each point digital signatures are added to documents that act as a signoff list. The PDFs may reside anywhere from the corporate office servers to private clouds hosted offsite. An added bonus is that a single person does not hold up the process by holding the document in their inbox and lost documents are eliminated.
Real-time updating of punch lists, a difficult task on large construction projects is instant and can be updated by several people at the same time through real-time document collaboration. Customer signoff of the lists is also accomplished by digital signatures.
The use of PDFs not only saves tons of paper but also eliminated the time taken each evening to prepare the following day’s updated stack of paper. The time to deliver such paperwork as well as the same-day and overnight delivery costs are eliminated.
Foster Wheeler is just one of the many construction companies that have leveraged the use of PDFs to improve operations, increase the bottom line and save a bunch of trees in the process. Here is an example of a PDF document used in some of their projects. Foster Wheeler does this on a global basis.