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iPad saves construction firm $1.8 million annually

The iPad has become an extremely useful tool for one Texas-based construction firm, with a report revealing the use of Apple's tablet by the workforce has saved the company an estimated $1.8 million per year, as well as helping to reduce the amount of hours spent working on projects.



Dallas construction company Rogers-O'Brien started using iPads on sites for the last five years, reports Business Insider, in a project overseen by director of applied technology Todd Wynne. Out of the 340 employees working for the firm, 190 possess an iPad for work purposes.

"Everyone on the operations staff gets an iPad that comes to work at Rogers O'Brien," advises Wynne. The half of the company that receives an iPad effectively consists of those working in the field, namely anyone who isn't in the office full-time.

The iPads play a role in helping to manage the vast amounts of paperwork involved in a construction project, including keeping all involved working from the same up-to-date version of building plans. This "One Truth" method is estimated to save around 7 percent on costs for each project, due to a reduction in mistakes caused by using outdated documents.

The paperless approach also minimizes issues with the sheer mass of documents that are created during construction. Likening it to the manual, product description, warranty, and other items that ship with a TV, Wynne suggests "imagine the same documentation for every component in a building."

The paper-based approach cost an average of $10,000 per project in printing costs alone, but it isn't the only way the company has saved money. Traveling to an on-site trailer to check a reference wasted time, and so far the use of iPads to check on the spot is thought to have saved close to 55,000 hours of employee time.

Since the iPad-based system was introduced, the firm has bought approximately 300 iPads, buying between 10 and 50 at a time from the local Apple Store at first, without any discounting or extra support from Apple itself. The high iPad sales caught the eye of the Apple Store manager, who asked Wynne to teach seminars at the store about using iPads in business.

At the time, Apple did not have a specific program that could help companies integrate Apple products into their workflow, but it has since created its own business program that aids with volume purchases and in other areas. Apple also operates in the enterprise field, and has worked with IBM to assist major firms using various iOS and macOS-based solutions.

Despite the usage of iPads by half the workforce, Rogers-O'Brien continues to prefer using Windows PCs for those working from the main office. "We love Microsoft, but we are desk-less users in the field," advises Wynne.

By comparison to other portable devices, the iPad was selected for a number of reasons, including its extensive battery life compared to PC-based tablets. The price of a cellular-equipped iPad is also attractive, costing a few hundred dollars compared to over a thousand for a PC with a tough screen and LTE.

Declaring the use of iPads and cloud computing to be "just the beginning," Wynne confirms the construction firm is already adding more technology to its workflow, such as using drones to photograph construction sites to monitor progress. Current plans involve the use of AI to analyze the drone images for safety compliance and logistics planning purposes.