Category Archives: News

Updates and News

Going Paperless

There is a debate in the business world about the benefits and detriments to going paperless in the ever-changing, growing professional world.  This topic has been a concern in talking to our customers and it is worth noting some of the benefits to going paperless.

Security –

This is the main issue of the great paperless debate.  One side believes that having all files in filing cabinets on site is the safest way to store sensitive data.  They believe that the internet is filled with hackers that want to steal their data.  While there are hackers on the internet, cloud based file storage systems offers more layers of security then a small lock on a filing cabinet.  Cloud storage websites often have multiple dedicated firewalls, intrusion detection systems, application firewalls, and log managers to protect your important files.  A business can also set permissions on each online file to restrict viewing of information inside their company as well.  Filing cabinets, on the other hand, have security flaws that often get overlooked.  A paper file can be stolen, viewed, copied, and photographed.  A locked filing cabinet can be broken into, and permanently steal the data.  Paperless storage often involves multiple daily backups of information, encrypted and stored off site, such that if anything were to go wrong with the files saved, they could easily be backed up and restored.

Ease of Locating Files –

Paper documents and files can be cluttered, difficult to find, and buried among other files just like it inside filing cabinets across several rooms. Going paperless allows all the files in a repository to be stored in one location online, giving the users an ability to search for the desired file they need.  This reduces the time considerable to find a specific file.  In My Job Ready, each job file contains a repository of documents, PDFs, purchase orders, and photos for that job, which allows the information to be shared easier among colleagues.  In the long term, this will reduce the total amount of filing cabinets needed in an office and free up physical office space.  There is an initial investment of digitizing current documents, but it will only pay dividends in the long term.

Improved Usability –

The vast majority of online file storage systems, as well as My Job Ready, allows the user to find the file that they wish to upload on their computer, click one button, and have the file encrypted and stored on the web server.  These systems are easy to use and expected in doing paperless business in a modern world.  One major goal for a business when going paperless is to find software that integrates well with the current software suites already in use, thus maintaining efficiency and productivity of your workers.

Cost Saving –

When a paper file is broken down into its primitive components, it sheds a light on the actual cost of one paper file.  In the construction world, for example, a paper file costs on average $5.68.  This can be broken down into the cost for one printed piece of paper on a laser printer (0.074), the average cost of an expandable folder (2.50) and the cost of the filing cabinet (200$) and labor to retrieve, update, and copy a file.  Breaking it down further, there is a labor cost of about two dollars per accessing a file.  This obviously scales as the amount of paper files increases and in the long term, 200 paper files that are accessed 600 times a year will cost on average $2,500 to maintain the paper system.

Finally, one of the most overlooked areas of going paperless is that it is good for the environment.  Going paperless will reduce a business’s carbon footprint by printing less files. On average, a single pine tree one foot in diameter and sixty feet tall can product 80,000 sheets of paper. Less printing also means less ink and toner, less transportation of products, and fewer chemical bi-products in the production of a paper file.  By doing your part, it will reduce the amount of waste in landfills, and cut down on fuel and labor costs to ship paper products.

Clifton Sweeney
Senior Developer
My Job Ready

IPads and Improvement of Technology in Construction

This article was taken from Bloomberg on May 31, 2013.  It is a highlight of an example of how mobile technology has vastly improved the construction sector.  It was a stellar read, although some of the subjects in the article could use a subscription to My Job Ready. I hope you enjoy it!

Clifton Sweeney
Senior Developer
My Job Ready

IPads Supplanting Blueprints Boosts Builder Productivity

By Jeff Kearns & Alexander Kowalski – May 31, 2013 12:00 AM ET

As the wind whips through the top floor of an unfinished eight-story office building a block west of the White House, Steven Denbow points to metal air ducts as an example of work that wouldn’t need to be redone.

The 29-year-old senior project engineer for Balfour Beatty Pic (BBY) ran three-dimensional simulations before construction began, finding hundreds of clashes, or design elements that interfered with each other. When the software indicated water pipes would intersect the ducts, he requested changes so workers didn’t have to rebuild parts of the $29 million project.

Armed with iPads linked to the newest plans, work orders and information requests, specialists such as Denbow are leading a shift to building information modeling, or BIM. New types of jobs are being created, such as modelers, and updated skills are becoming mandatory for designers and contractors. As builders recover from the worst downturn since World War II, such tools are changing processes used in design and construction.

“The goal is to eliminate problems before they happen,” says Denbow, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering and was trained on the software at Balfour Beatty. “This saves time and money in the long run, which is what everyone wants.”

London-based Balfour Beatty, the U.K.’s largest builder, has 32 employees like Denbow at its U.S. unit dedicated to virtual design and construction, up from six in 2008, said Jason Reece, a senior manager of technology and process development who was the first such staffer in 2007. Another 50 to 100 in the U.S. do clash detection and BIM implementation.

Boosting Productivity

Adoption of the process increased even during the downturn as companies invested in boosting productivity. Use by North American architecture, engineering and contracting firms soared to 71 percent in 2012 from 17 percent five years earlier, according to a January report by McGraw-Hill Construction.

At a medical facility job site in Lorton, Virginia, Jennifer Macks, a Skanska AB (SKAB) supervisor, said that using iPads and Autodesk Inc. (ADSK) modeling software she could request information from architects and suppliers, and use Wi-Fi to show the plans to colleagues on a large flat-screen television.

“We have no administrative staff on this job because all the papers get filed electronically,” she said. “It’s a huge time-saver for us.” Paper blueprints for the $20 million project hung on a nearby metal rack, present essentially for legal purposes only.

Managers like Macks at the U.S. unit of Stockholm-based Skanska, Sweden’s largest builder, saved 9.1 hours a week on average using field data tools, according to a July 2012 study at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

Cut Time

In Seattle, Turner Construction Co. and ZGF Architects LLP cut the time to build an expansion of Virginia Mason Hospital to four months from seven by using the modeling software.

Christopher Heger, a project manager for New York-based Turner, said the job was accelerated by extensive pre-planning with subcontractors, prefabrication of materials, and using laser surveying and GPS equipment to measure the site. Requests for information from subcontractors and vendors were about a quarter or one-third of what they could have been, he said.

“We’re able to do things faster and have less down time,” said Heger, who even sought to cut walking distances. “When you have to walk back to the trailer you lose time so we were able to transmit this information real time.”

Research Topic

The hospital expansion, completed in 2011, is now a research topic for Carrie Sturts Dossick, an associate professor of construction management at the University of Washington in Seattle, who teaches BIM and studies how builders use the applications on job sites.

“If you have BIM skills you’re more likely to get hired,” Dossick said, noting that the technology has created new occupations. “You now have model managers, BIM managers, people who spend most of their time modeling or coordinating models.”

Gains are difficult to measure because the technology spread during a major construction downturn, she said. Jobs are being added in some stages of design and construction while being lost in others, she said.

“We’re not changing the total labor,” Dossick said. “We’re shifting when that labor is working because we’re able to make better decisions earlier in the process.”

The most-trained workers are finding jobs while others are slower to return to the workforce. Employment for nonresidential building construction managers has nearly recovered from the recession, while total industry payrolls lag.

Construction Managers

There were more than 52,000 such construction managers in 2012, near a peak of 53,000 in 2008, Labor Department data show. About 655,000 people worked in nonresidential building last year, down from 841,000 in 2008.

At the same time, the construction industry is recovering after it took a drubbing in the 2007-2009 recession. Investment in structures like offices and malls fell in 2009 by 21.1 percent, the most since 1943, Commerce Department data show. It jumped in 2012 by 10.8 percent, the most in five years.

Increased use of the software and more prefabrication could further enhance construction efficiency, which has lagged behind other sectors, according to Paul Teicholz, a professor emeritus of engineering at Stanford University in California.

Inflation-adjusted construction productivity fell about 0.3 percent per year from 1964 through 2012 compared with an annual gain of 3.1 percent for all nonfarm industries, Teicholz wrote in March for the online building technology publication AECbytes. He cited “structural problems” such as unique conditions at building sites and reliance on paper documents.

Investing More

Autodesk and other software makers are investing more in the business. The maker of AutoCAD and other architectural and engineering software purchased Burlington, Massachusetts-based Vela Systems Inc. a year ago to expand its applications for mobile devices. The $76 million acquisition was the largest among 17 by the San Rafael, California-based company in the past two years, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The shift to BIM drives the job market, where those once called draftsmen are now “more computer engineers,” and the biggest firms demand new skills, said James Jirsa, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin who has taught engineering for five decades.

“Students are very quickly getting accustomed to these tools, and that’s going to be a major driving force of them getting into the labor market,” Jirsa said. “They can’t compete if they don’t make use of these things.”

Training Courses

In Parsippany, New Jersey, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 102 holds 40-hour AutoCAD and BIM training courses to help make members better suited for a wider range of jobs. Local 102 President Bernie Corrigan said some projects now require the training.

Balfour Beatty’s Denbow, who’s working from a trailer office in front of the 175,000 square foot (16,250 square meter) office building in downtown Washington, expects more firms to add BIM specialists like him.

“A lot of companies have people dedicated to creating the models or having someone in-house who coordinates the process,” he said. “Not everyone used to have BIM managers, but now you see more and more that have them.”


My Job Ready New Feature Spotlight

Our developers have been busy putting up a days behind counter for your job templates.  The day behind counter is visible to all admin and supervisors of a job file.  The raw statistics are in a tab inside every job file page called “Template Statistics”.  This data is also displayed on job report PDFs.

The data shown tells the user if the job file they are in is using a template.  It will display todays date, the initial template start date, the date of the most current task in the template, and the estimated finish date.  These data points are set when the template is initially dropped into the file, so if anyone moves the events around, the integrity of the initial dates remain.   It will display the amount of days that remain until the estimated finish date, the total amount of work days in the template (this is calculated by adding each duration of each event in the template, regardless of overlap of tasks), and will also allow users to add a second template and still keep track of the information from the first template.

The counter will only apply to templates applied after the 25th of April.  It bases all its comparisons on the last event in a specified template.  The “Days Left” data will show the user green if it is positive and red if it is negative.  It will also show that you have 1 day to complete a task if you are on the estimated finish day, meaning there is no day zero and it will perform the appropriate calculations to show if you are behind or behind on your template.

Finally, you may have noticed that your notifications have disappeared. Well, they didn’t! As a matter of fact, it is improved.  Now each user is able to select the notifications they want to receive.  A lot of our users seemed to be inundated with notifications and it was becoming more of a nuisance then a help.  Being able to just see walks or when new jobs are created will help a user go through their notifications more efficiently and be able to interact with specific parts of the website better.  To change which notifications you receive, mouse over “Welcome, Your Name” in the top right menu, click “My Information” and select the checkboxes for the notifications you wish to receive.  When you have no notifications, there are these instructions as well as the number of notifications you have hidden. The counter for your selected notifications remain unchanged.

We will continue to bring our users updates as we finish them that will help improve their experience with My Job Ready.  If you have any questions feel free to get in touch with me as well as if you would like to see anything added to our software suite.

Enjoy the week!

Clifton Sweeney
Senior Developer
My Job Ready

Site Updates and Improvements for the week of 2013-04-15

Our developers are hard at work this week to continue to provide usability improvements and new features for our customers.  Here is a preview of what is going on inside the busy My Job Ready offices this week:

2.02 New Features

  • - PDF's are now available for all your job files. On the Jobs page where all your files are stored, on the far right of the table clicking 'View PDF' will open a PDF of that specific job file in a new window.

2.02 Bug Fixes

  • - The tabs inside Issues (QC Issues, Unbalanced Masters, and Flagged Walks) should now display correctly.
  • - Fixed POs pointing to the wrong directory.

2.02 Improvements

  • - You will now be notified who sends you an email through our chat system. The formatting of the email was changed to improve readability.
  • - Split the Master's Take-offs page on the navigation menu into two tables, one for base plans and one for add ons. The search functionally searched both tables.
  • - Merged Companies from the navigation menu into Relationships. Now both are viewable on this page with tabs. Companies will be leaving the top bar soon for a new feature!

We will continue to work hard for you and bring you the best content and new features to make your experience with our software as robust and easy as possible.

Clifton Sweeney
Senior Developer
My Job Ready