Posts Tagged ‘construction quality control’

Top 10 Reasons Sharepoint Sucks for Photos

January 2, 2012

I talk to a lot of GC’s and Architects that use Sharepoint(tm) to store their photos. When I ask them why, their answers usually include something about security (a questionable claim in my mind; Are your needles secure, just because you know which haystack they’re in?) and company policy. Then the grumbling begins.

Here’s a breakdown of Sharepoint’s shortcoming’s as a photo management solution:

#10 Too much typing & clicking required – To file photos in way that provides any meaningful information later on (you know, when your really need them), Sharepoint requires you to spend time creating unique folders or typing LOTS of unique filenames. (e.g. ProgressLevel4DeckPrepour11032011.jpg, oh my)

#9 One-dimensional searching – If I need to verify the window flashing installation on ten different levels, it would be nice if I didn’t need to scroll through hundreds (thousands? millions?) of photos of rebar and framing on each and every one of those same ten levels.

#8 Picture Library doesn’t support sorting – Wouldn’t it be nice to have Excel-style sorting capabilities, while being able to simultaneously view the photos too?

#7 Can’t define a range of search values – How much quicker would it be if you could define a range of search values? E.g. Verifying the curtain wall anchors on the northeast corner of the top four floors.

#6 No comment – In the age of social media, is it too much to expect to be able to add comments to construction  photos?

#5 No sharing – Isn’t a tad bit ironic that there’s no built-in photo sharing in a solution that has “Share” in it’s name?

#4 Upside down? – Does your neck hurt from viewing upside down photos with no way to fix them without opening them in another application and then re-saving them?

#3 No rules – Usually, a 7-person team will adopt 7 different photo naming and filing conventions.

#2 Patient searching required  – “No Files Found” , is a painful phrase. How many times have you gotten this result repeatedly after struggling to come up with the right search criteria? An interactive search panel that allows for “tweaking” searches would be a real time saver.

#1 Starting from scratch – A new project means a blank slate and recreating your file names, folders and organization all – over – again.

Is there a better way? Most definitely the answer is yes.

Geedra vs Sharepoint

January 2, 2012
Photos on Geedra™ Photos on SharePoint™

Automated photo filing on Upload

Yes. Photos filed according to user profile, project profile, time, date and other data assigned by camera. No. User manually files photos by file and folder names.
Menu-driven, point-and-click photo tags Yes. No.
Construction-specific tags Yes. Tag types include: gridline, level, room number, camera orientation, multi-building designations, CSI division codes + text-based tags No – text based tags only.
Searching by single tag values Yes. No.[1]
Searching by multiple tag values Yes. No.[1]
Searching by a range of tag values Yes. No.
“Excel-style” photo sorting by tag value. Yes. No.[2]
Instant Search Experience (Search results appear as search criteria are entered) Yes. No.
Integrated Photo Sharing Yes. No. Share by email.
Integrated Report Builder Yes. No.
Photo-detail view Yes. Yes.
Individual photo comments journal. Yes. No.
Pre-defined comments menu Yes. No.
Hiding redundant photos Yes. No.
Automatic filtering of duplicate photos Yes. Even works when filename is changed. No.
Built-in photo rotation Yes. No.
Remote web access. Yes. Yes.
Cloud-based storage Yes. Office 365 only.
Seamless user experience from any Browser or Operating System Yes. No.[3]
iPad compatible Yes. Yes. (Separate app required)

[1] Requires extensive additional configuration and customization by administrator.

[2] SharePoint Picture Library views do not support column-based sorting.

[3] Certain features require Microsoft Windows and Office.

Risk Management Means Innovating Beyond Checklists

December 21, 2011

A recent report from McGraw-Hill (also discussed here) outlined the results of a survey of owners, architects and general contractors examines the ways in which project teams on $100 million projects handle risk management. The report suggests that formal risk control processes “beyond simple checklists”  are necessary for these projects to sufficiently mitigate their overall project risk.

The costs of risk in these projects are staggering. For example the average size of a post-construction disputes is $3 million dollars. But what’s striking to me is how common it is for these projects to be dealt a blow from risk related issues. Consider these statistics:

  • Almost a quarter of projects are hit with schedule delays.
  • Close to 20% of projects are over budget.
  • About 10% of projects experience disputes.

And these are the big boys. The best-in-class, technology savvy, resource-rich organizations that one would expect to have their act together. But even the best and brightest are subject to the ill effects of overruns, scope creep and safety and site conditions.  As a matter of fact, “unforeseen site conditions” was listed as one of the most difficult risks to quantify. It’s nice of the MH folks to formally recognize something we all know to be true; once you break ground, you never know what can happen next.

Site conditions change, often unpredictably so. However, as I’ve discussed before, unforeseen conditions present a challenge in dealing with the risk of the past where costs pile up as those charged with investigating, analyzing and negotiating a resolution struggle to recreate the conditions on the site at the time in question.  Capturing this critical information doesn’t happen by accident. If the principles of major projects are going to take a dent out of risk-related costs, it’s going to take organization-wide efforts to make recording site conditions a mandatory (and routine) practice.  Current methods rely on individual project managers to establish their own systems for recording information, leading to a different system for every project and predictably inconsistent results.

Top 10 Tasks for Construction Superintendents

September 8, 2010
Stumbled upon this on the state of Washington Workforce Explorer site.  In reviewing this list, it occurred to me that jobsite photos and video should play a critical role in supporting most of these tasks. I have added comments next to each task (where appropriate) to specify the role that visual media can(should) play in performing the task.

If you’re not using photos in this manner, you should ask yourself why not.

Top 10 Tasks

  • Examine and inspect work progress, equipment, and construction sites to verify safety and to ensure that specifications are met. – Photos used to record progress and report conditions.
  • Read specifications such as blueprints to determine construction requirements and to plan procedures.
  • Estimate material and worker requirements to complete jobs. – Photo archives can provide visual references for similar jobs from the past.
  • Supervise, coordinate, and schedule the activities of construction or extractive workers. – Photos serve as a reference to confirm access, availability of materials and equipment.
  • Confer with managerial and technical personnel, other departments, and contractors in order to resolve problems and to coordinate activities. – Photos augment written and verbal communication and provide confirmation of resolution.
  • Coordinate work activities with other construction project activities. – As mentioned above, photos provide information on current site conditions.
  • Order or requisition materials and supplies. – Webcams and photos confirm receipt of materials, preventing over-ordering.
  • Locate, measure, and mark site locations and placement of structures and equipment, using measuring and marking equipment. – Photos used to augment measurements and markings.
  • Record information such as personnel, production, and operational data on specified forms and reports. – Photos augment written records and allow for forensic research of conditions not properly recorded.
  • Assign work to employees, based on material and worker requirements of specific jobs.

What’s Your Jobsite Photo Strategy?

August 4, 2010

When speaking with managers and executives from general contractor firms I make it a point to ask about their corporate strategy for jobsite photos. Ninety nine percent of the time, the response is “well, we don’t have one.”  Wow.

I’m sure if I asked the same question about estimating, scheduling, project management or accounting, one hundred percent would be able to convey their strategy to me. Yet, the one resource they have with the potential to irrefutably convey the value of their work isn’t worthy of a corporate strategy. Talk about an under-appreciated resource.

4D 5D Can’t Complete the Picture

July 29, 2010

For all the promise of 4D and 5D BIM technology, users can never capture the reality of jobsite conditions and their impact on a building.  Yes, including the dimensions of time and cost adds a stronger connection between design and construction. But there are many components of “as-built” construction that BIM can never capture. There are certain conditions that can only be accurately and comprehensively recorded in photos and video.

Here’s a partial list of conditions and I welcome you to add others:

  • installation processes
  • access issues
  • sequencing issues
  • use of specified materials
  • fabrication processes
  • water intrusion remediation
  • LEED point qualification

Finally, before you convince yourself that as-built conditions can be completely represented in a BIM model, remember that human beings are the connection between the two.

Filtering Jobsite Information

December 1, 2009

In telecommunications the “Last Mile” problem refers to the difficulty service providers have in connecting thousands of houses in a neighborhood to a main high-speed data line. Put another way, the Last Mile problem is a distribution problem, distributing a pipe full of data through many many smaller pipes.

Jobsites have a “First Mile” problem, that is there are thousands of simultaneous  operations on any sophisticated site, each of which is generating its own critical “data”, with no centralized means of collecting the data and then delivering it to back office operations.  Pick any of your existing operations software solutions; accounting; scheduling; project management; every one of these requires human intervention in order to “extract” new data from the jobsite.

However, there’s a problem with the current method for extracting data from a jobsite. It’s the human problem. Whenever we rely on a human to transfer information by observation, there’s a natural filtering process that takes place. Especially when that human is a stakeholder in the process. Schedule updates are the most common casualty of this type of stakeholder filtering. Ever hear a superintendent utter this most damning phrase, “Oh, we can make up that time. No Problem”?

Rob’s Interview with Blogger Mikhail Surkan

November 25, 2009

I sat down for a chat with Mikhail Surkan to discuss the challenges and opportunities for a starting a company in the middle of The Great Recession.  Speaking of challenges, we also discuss the prospects for Geedra in gaining traction in the construction industry.

A Wishlist for an iPhone Punchlist App

September 23, 2009

From the Software Advice Blog… Bringing Your Punchlist into the 21st century.

I applaud the fresh approach to solving the Punchlist Problem.  However, there are certain functions on Chris’ list that will require some heavy lifting to accomplish. Take a look below and then share your hi-tech dream application for construction.

A couple of taps brings up 3-D floor plans; you manipulate the 3-D model with your fingers until you drill down to your exact location in the room; tap the specific problem area, tag it’s location, take a picture and quickly fill out a form describing the problem.

  • 3D floorplans are a rarity in jobsite trailers, much less on handhelds. A quick browse through iTunes didn’t turn up any existing applications with this capability.
  • location tagging; How? By GPS, grid, room, room type? GPS coverage inside a finished building can be spotty. Are the other locations pre-loaded? If so, by who? If not, you’ll need quite a robust interface to accommodate the various grid/room combinations that can occur on various projects.
  • take a picture – yep, we can do that
  • quickly fill out a form – lots of work to be done here. Ideally, checkboxes and dropdowns can streamline this function, but some original content generation will be required. A voice recording could make this easier, but you better have a high-quality, noise-reducing microphone.

Finding That Critical Project Photo

July 13, 2009

Imagine what it’s like to dig a hole in the sand at the beach. Hand over hand, you dig away and watch as the hole changes constantly with each shift in the sand. Whenever you see anything interesting in the hole (a sea shell, piece of sea glass, etc.) it’s covered over almost as quickly it’s uncovered.

kids-in-the-hole1-600x413

Essentially, this experience provides a summertime analogy for tracking the work on a construction site. No matter what your role on a jobsite, you depend on knowing the condition of your area of interest continuously over the course of the project. The advent of digital photography has made it possible to inexpensively record the physical condition of the project in extreme detail. Unfortunately, recording the digital images are the easy part. After shooting hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of jobsite photos, finding that critical construction image after the fact becomes the ultimate challenge. (Raise your hand if you have a hard drive choked with project photos that are organized by project and date.)

I would like to know what you, as a construction-related professional, do to extract meaningful data from your jobsite photos. Feel free to leave your comments  and exchange ideas with your fellow readers.