10 mobile apps that will make life easier for construction professionals.
In 2007, Apple released its first smartphone: the iPhone. Some suggest that the “i” refers to two concepts that have come to characterise every industrial project on the planet: the “i” for “I”, referring to oneself, and the “i” for “individuality”.
Since the iPhone’s launch, an access point to the entire content of the worldwide web was placed in the hand of each individual. Furthermore, its broad catalogue of applications gave iPhone owners the ability to personalise their phone according to their tastes or needs, allowing the phone to do whatever they wanted or needed.
The trend towards personalisation, and the design of products and services with the end user in mind, has grown stronger. In the past, industry created products and consumers adapted to them. Now, industry is adapting to the demands of users.
The construction industry has been no exception to this shift. Its combination with new communication technologies has led to the exponential growth of easy-to-use applications that help all actors in the sector: managers, to plan and monitor their projects at any time and from any place; customers, to track their orders and request assistance when required; and employees and professionals, who now have thousands of tools that help them with their day-to-day tasks quite literally at their fingertips!
We at Frumecar have made a list of the 10 mobile apps that all construction professionals should consider downloading on their smartphone or tablet.
To begin the list, Pixelsdo Mobile’s Concrete Calculator app. This application calculates the volume of concrete that is needed to cover different elements such as bases, columns, blocks and stairs. It also calculates other parameters such as the exact quantities of cement, gravel and water needed to produce a certain type of concrete, or the number of bags of concrete needed for a particular job. Other useful features include a brick counter that lets you know how many bricks will be needed to build a wall, and a calculator that helps you to work out the weight of a reinforced steel bar based on its thickness and length. Every professional who works with concrete should have this app on their phone.
This calculator from Calculated Industries (which also has a physical version ) is the world’s go-to app for solving a wide range of construction problems such as roof, stair and ramp calculations and determining the dimensions of beams. It also boasts all the functions of a scientific calculator. Never again will an engineer or architect leave their calculator in their car’s glove compartment, meaning important on-site decisions will never be delayed. This app is also very handy for answering clients’ questions without needing to take a look at the project or do the calculations on paper. It costs around 30 euros.
Until recently, the floor plans of construction projects were used as wallpaper on the walls of building site Portakabins. The reason was quite simple: it was the best way to ensure that these plans didn’t get lost, and so that all professionals working on the project could consult them at all times. Now, with PlanGrid, you can save, share, edit and add information and comments about all the floor plans of a construction site in a single app. It works for PC, Android and iOS. Its simple interface (anyone who has used Microsoft Paint already knows how to use it) allows you to select and view a floor print, zoom in and do all kinds of operations on it, such as drawing lines, circles and arrows; highlighting parts; and adding colours and text.
This free, all-in-one Android app is a must-have for DIY enthusiasts and construction professionals. It has around 70 built-in calculators and applications that help you with things such as saving your construction notes; writing up your invoices; measuring square and cubic areas; converting from amps to watts; calculating bricks, paving stones and tiles; estimating the amount of concrete needed for various elements such as stairs, rectangular slabs and cylindrical pillars… and many other things. The problem is that it is only available in English. While it does have imperial-to-metric converters, the individual calculators deal primarily in yards, feet and inches.
Archicad is a CAD (Computer Aided Design) package developed by Graphisoft that is used to create building or infrastructure floor plans. With BIMx, you can view a 2D or 3D representation of any floor plan saved in a .bimx format on your smartphone, tablet or computer. The experience is similar to that of any good 3D video game. You can view and tour the building and its rooms using a smooth-running software. It is ideal for presentations to clients, and is the jewel in the crown of this selection of apps.
With this simple and intuitive yet powerful tool, it is very easy to design the floor plan of a house with all its details (doors, windows, stairs, furniture, etc.) and then view it in 3D. Floor Plan Creator allows you to modify a floor plan on the go and see the result instantly in 3 dimensions. There is a free version of this app for Android phones. Also, by visiting this website, you can design your dream home using any Internet browser.
Construction Manager (not to be confused with Construction Master Pro, the first app on the list)
This paid application by Snappil is a tool used for directing and managing a building project at the construction level. It is a digital assistant that helps with things such as:
- monitoring construction plans with architects, engineers and surveyors;
- recruiting employees and completing all corresponding formalities: payroll, contracts, etc.;
- purchasing supplies;
- completing tasks (their orders and deadlines);
- enacting quality and safety checks;
- writing up reports for clients or the contractor’s head office.
This real paperwork saver is only available in English.
With this application (available on iOS and Android), all you need to do is take photos. These could be of a piece of furniture, a bedroom, a beam or a façade, for example. Then, using its easy-to-use touch tools, you can write down their measurements and angles (and also add comments). It is perfect for storing and sharing information about the dimensions of any aspect of a building. The app also calculates areas, volumes and triangulations, and can also calculate distances and angles based on the points, vectors and measurements entered by the user.
This app, which is available on the Android and Apple stores, does exactly what it says on the tin. Namely, it accurately calculate angles using your mobile phone. You can measure the angles of things around you or objects in photographs.
This simple app is used to measure levels. The interface is an image of traditional spirit level, where a virtual bubble of water indicates the level of the surface on which we place our mobile phone.
We at Frumecar are familiar with the use of mobile applications for the concrete industry. With one of them, for example, we offer assistance – with the help of augmented reality – so that users can resolve their doubts about the operation or incidents of our concrete plants, without the need to call out technicians.
Mobile technology is going to be (and already is) the spearhead of the construction sector’s drive towards innovation. If you want to know more about how digitisation is revolutionising the concrete industry, please visit our website to learn more about our “Intelligent Systems” division or contact us by clicking here.