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How Mobile Apps Can Increase Your Construction Site Productivity

Finding ways to increase productivity at the work site is a major concern for many construction company owners. Often, there is a lack of standardization across construction teams; workers complete tasks differently, find shortcuts to get things down quicker, and record data often by hand. Adopting mobile apps is a great way to solve a lot of these problems while also offering powerful and flexible tools for workers to add to their tool-belt.  Many contractors are using (or building their own) apps for project management. One benefit of project management mobile apps is reducing the amount of paper needed on a job - especially drawings. Mobile apps are not only reducing the need for so much paperwork, but they also are centralizing your data. In the past, workers might need to fill out paperwork after visiting a site, and then deliver it, fax it, or scan it, when they get to the site office or back to their own. Using Mobile apps allows them to store and send data to everyone who needs it wherever there is a mobile signal. Many existing processes can be automated and provide important information for everyone involved on a construction project. Applications can be designed to track progress of projects to help save time and increase efficiency. Here are some ways mobile apps can help your construction company stay productive and agile in today’s fast-changing market: Better tracking of your job site Adopting a mobile infrastructure for your business doesn't just get rid of paper, it also allows you more flexibility and agility in tracking your workers' work and your assets whereabouts. Theft is a common problem on construction sites, particularly of valuable materials like tools, copper, and aluminum. Using radio-frequency identification (RFID) devices to track assets via mobile apps can help recover missing or stolen articles, while mobile surveillance can help reduce job site theft and increase employee productivity, especially at remote sites. In addition to the added protection over your job site, mobile tracking allows you to make smarter decisions when allocating resources between multiple sites and workers. Power to your payroll One of the biggest headaches of any business comes from tracking and recording of your workers' hours. Accountability can prove difficult when you're working systems that don't properly document the time in and out. Using mobile apps to file times sheets and process payroll can help boost efficiency, since workers can clock in on their mobile devices and report to work immediately on their mobile devices. Your apps can also give GPS tracking and bio-metric capabilities can also help reduce time fraud. And real-time information can be immediately processed via mobile apps, reducing response time and increasing efficiency. One example of this type of app is SurePayroll, which allows employees to access paychecks and other payroll details at their own convenience, and allows employers to access their payrolls even on the go. Whether it’s paying regular employees or independent contractors, employers can enter payroll, preview, and submit payroll at the touch of a button. Project Management and Collaboration Mobile apps can connect everyone involved on a construction project, from architects to engineers to project managers. Adopting these mobile technologies can help manage activities, employees, information, and processes associated with a given project and even control scheduling. Mobile apps allow project managers to download blueprints, sync information in real-time, and communicate with the job site even when they aren't on-site. One popular app for project management  is the Photo Measures App, which allows users to measure dimensions captured in photos. It has a user-friendly interface, and users can quickly record and save measurement on a frequent basis. Another app that helps reduce planning time and boost efficiency in construction projects is Plan Grid, which allows project managers to easily share plans, markups, photos, and reports with the entire project team from anywhere. PlanGrid can be used with or without an internet connection during construction to track revisions, document progress, and manage issues in the field while keeping everyone on the current set. Mobile Apps Reduce Constructions Costs The construction industry has been seriously challenged by rising costs and declining opportunities, placing increasing pressure on companies to make their processes more cost and time efficient.  According to Go Canvas, statistics show that 50 percent of a worker’s time while on the clock is devoted to wasteful activity caused by poor communication, inadequate management, or over-staffing. Meanwhile, construction companies are losing some $6.9 billion in inefficient processes among operations and maintenance staff, and $1.7 billion to outdated communications like paper forms. And large construction companies can waste some $3.5 million searching for information or recreating documents they couldn’t find. AppSheet can help you customize apps to boost your construction job site productivity and efficiency. Built with Google Sheets and AppSheet, the app automatically captures GPS locations, collections images, and allows customization of the collected data. Here are a couple sample apps that you can play around with to get started: Quote Calculator enables contractors to calculate payment owed based on services rendered, and is a useful tool to quickly and easily calculate costs of services. The app allows users to input numerical data in to the app, calculate and display the results, and save the entry for future recall. Repair Manual is a useful app for any business that needs to provide an instruction manual to employees or customers. This app has step-by-step instructions for repairing dry-wall, with helpful images that demonstrate each step clearly. Timesheet is an app easily tracks log times in and out to compute hours and calculate total wages, providing all necessary information for accounting or human resources departments. This app uses information capture via forms, app formulas, virtual columns, references, and image display. Let AppSheet help you raise the roof on your construction job site with custom mobile apps!  This post was updated on December 9th, 2019.

How American Roofing & Metal used SmartSheet data and the AppSheet platform to transform their business

Background There comes a point in any growing company’s life when you look around and realize that your underlying systems and processes are outdated and need a refresh. For American Roofing & Metal, a full-service roofing contractor and metal fabricator launched in 1904, this moment of realization came after a period of rapid growth.   The scope of the company’s operation was increasing by the day and its underlying management strategy—which relied heavily on paper-based tools at the time—was struggling to keep pace. The company needed to change the way it communicated, and quickly.   An American Roofing & Metal project: The Henry B Gonzales Convention Center in San Antonio Maximizing SmartSheet with AppSheet To achieve this goal, the American Roofing & Metal team set out to find a no-code platform that could interface with its Smartsheet data. Waite and his team assessed the market. AppSheet met all of the criteria and, very importantly, also offered a seamless integration with Smartsheet, a software solution for collaboration and management. “Smartsheet allowed us to custom develop processes and automate repetitive tasks. Still, we needed a better and simpler way to interface with our field personnel, project managers, production departments, and salespeople who are out on job sites and on the road.” Over time, American Metal & Roofing leveraged Smartsheet and AppSheet to built and deploy a Job Site Info App, Pick Ticket App, Project Manager Job Site Inspection App, Manager Access Only App, Emergency Contact App, and Human Resources App. Collectively, these apps empower the business's day to day operations and have resulted in reduced paperwork, stress, and greater team collaboration and efficiency. To get the full story with screenshots and app building tips, get the case study below.

AppSheet Named a Leader Among Low-Code Platforms for Business Developers by Independent Research Firm

Leading global research and advisory firm, Forrester Research, named AppSheet as a leader in Low-Code Development Platforms for Business Developers. We received the highest scores possible in ten specific criteria, including vision and strategy, startup experience, user interface development, mobile application development, data design, application scaling assistance, application documentation, and commercial model. AppSheet was among a group of select companies that Forrester invited to participate in its report, The Forrester Wave™: Low-Code Platforms for Business Developers, Q2 2019. Forrester identified the twelve most significant low-code platform vendors and evaluated them against 30 criteria, which were grouped into three high-level buckets: current offering, strategy, and market presence. This marks our second recognition as a leader by Forrester Research in less than a year (in our first Wave appearance, we were named a leader in The Forrester Wave™: Mobile Low-Code Platforms for Business Developers, Q3 2018). In AppSheet’s vendor profile, Forrester’s report stated: “AppSheet has the most aggressive strategy and road map for empowering business people as developers. The vendor is dedicated to software creation without any coding, and it shows in a stellar startup experience and strong features for mobile app development, data design, application scaling, and documentation generation, as well as in its commercial model and growth rate. Reference customers were highly satisfied with the product’s mobile features and rate of innovation.” To us, this recognition demonstrates that our powerful platform is enterprise-ready and the ideal choice for business developers who want to build robust apps—without ever writing a single line of code.  The number of companies that are running their businesses on AppSheet-powered apps is on the rise and we expect this trend to continue as our platform innovates and evolves. In 2014, when we started this journey, our mission was simple: everyone should be able to make apps. This mission is still our guiding star. Yes, the platform is far more powerful today but with every robust feature we add, we also ensure that business developers can easily incorporate those new features into new or existing apps with the appropriate enterprise governance and management guardrails in place. We are humbled by this recognition and so very proud of what all of you (our customers) have achieved building apps on the AppSheet platform. As we've said more than once, customers are a part of our team. We are so grateful that you are on this journey with us. Thank you. To get a complimentary copy of this Forrester Wave™ report, go here.

Solvay and AppSheet: The No-Code Approach to Digital Transformation

Last week AppSheet was at the Forrester Digital Transformation and Innovation Forum in Chicago. It was a great event and all the sessions featured some aspect of digital transformation with guidance on how companies should look at managing the technology side of the transformation equation. It’s a big topic and most companies I spoke with are currently in the trenches, making process and technology decisions to drive their digital transformation initiatives forward. Undertaking these kinds of projects takes grit, ingenuity, and a willingness to embrace the unknown. Certainly, that’s how Solvay approached their digital transformation journey. For those of you unfamiliar with the company, Solvay is an advanced materials and specialty chemicals company. Headquartered in Brussels, with more than 26,000 employees located in 61 countries, it made the ambitious decision to introduce mobility into its shop floors. Why the focus on shop floors? Well, Solvay’s plant-specific processes were paper-driven and the company wanted to replace those paper-based processes with app-driven automation. So, Francis Boulu, Industrial Data Analyst, in collaboration with Solvay’s digital office, selected AppSheet’s no-code platform to build the first set of apps. Of course, this was not Solvay’s first digital transformation project as many teams and industrial plants had been working on digital solutions designed to automate processes. But this transformation project was a bit different as one use case led to another, resulting in AppSheet becoming the no-code platform for more than 400 citizen developers. Today, there are approximately 1,000 deployed apps (and counting) and AppSheet is an integral part of Solvay’s software suite. The digital mobility team continues to find new use cases for apps built on AppSheet’s platform. All in all, Solvay is now more operationally efficient after working with AppSheet. The workforce is better supported with a no-code platform that allows them to build and support their own applications. You might even say that Solvay and AppSheet are the perfect combination for digital transformation initiatives. For the full story, download the Solvay case study.

Top 5 Manufacturing Apps — Manufacturing & Warehouse Management Tools for iOS & Android

The manufacturing industry is highly automated, and the right technology is essential for safety and efficiency within manufacturing businesses. Many businesses in the industry credit their success to the use of state-of-the-art manufacturing apps, which keep employees accountable, efficient, and mobile. Ranging from universal CRM software to real-time equipment monitoring, manufacturing apps are incredibly fine-tuned for key tracking and record-keeping. Like a well-oiled machine, these apps make day-to-day operations flow seamlessly, wasting less time, and more importantly, promoting safety and organization. According to a recent survey, up to 48% of all inspection tasks today are done via mobile apps. Manufacturing apps are a low-cost technology to integrate into your business—and pretty soon, you'll be boosting your ROIs. Our team at AppSheet has curated a list of our favorite manufacturing apps—ones that'll get you more productive and agile. Our List Our list is sorted by usability, flexibility, easy management, and other factors we find important. I'm starting with the best of the best (although we might be just a little biased). 1. AppSheet's Equipment Inspection App                                                          Equipment Inspection Sample App   Although we might be a little biased, thousands of professionals in the manufacturing industry use AppSheet to automate processes, record inspections, flag items, and assign tasks. AppSheet isn't an app in itself; it's an app development platform. If you don't know how to code but would love a custom app for your business, you've come to the right place. All you have to do to create your first app is to upload a spreadsheet, doc, or form (from Google Sheets, Excel, Dropbox, Salesforce, or some other data collection system) and let AppSheet do the rest. You can even choose from a sample app like an equipment inspection app or an inspection checklist app, and AppSheet will convert your data into that particular format. You can easily customize the features, data, logic, and UI of your app. It's completely free to prototype and you could get your first app up and running in minutes. Primary functions included in the Equipment Inspection app: Location-based items with pre-filled fields. Tabbed inspection forms, with barcode, signature and photo fields. Historical inspections associated with items. Employee directory with related locations and inspection history. Charts with a quick overview of percentage values of Passed and Failed inspections.   2. 5S Audit App This simple app makes it easy to conduct and report audits in particular areas. 5S Audit is the best way to benchmark your 5S programs and systems. Ideal for manufacturing areas, offices, and work sites, this app comes preloaded with a great template to begin improvement activities in your organization. Although this app is fairly simple, it's extremely easy and effective—a pretty nifty tool to document audits on-the-go.  3. MRPeasy Brought to you by Intuit Quickbooks, MRPeasy is a product planning software for manufacturers. This handy app lets you create manufacturing orders, schedule and assign tasks within a production schedule, and much more. The app's smooth interface allows comprehensive viewing of key metrics for your manufacturing processes and any information that is needed to improve your efficiency. Managerial statistics, sales statistics, cost control, critical on-hand reporting, and equipment utilization reporting are all available.  4. Manufacturing 360 Created by automation superstar Siemens, Manufacturing 360 is a comprehensive app that lets you experience digital manufacturing in an interactive factory environment. With this app, you can learn how to compete more effectively with next generation manufacturing technology, including advanced robotics and logistics simulation, closed-loop quality solutions, and the latest CAD/CAM software. This app is meant to inspire and innovate, helping users streamline their own operations and strategy. 5. ManageTeamz Delivery Tracking   ManageTeamz offers a robust delivery tracking system, especially helpful for those who are looking to track material delivery and warehouse receiving. This software is available both on desktop and as a mobile app for iOS and Android. The ManageTeamz Delivery Tracking app helps keep your team on track, and makes it easy to manage employees, orders, and timelines. AppSheet also has a delivery tracking app (see below). This app tracks packages from pickup to delivery. The package is tracked by updating the record when it is picked up, when it is delivered to the site, and when the driver returns to base. The app has a dashboard view, map views, and table views. Overview, the dashboard view, shows all vendors and construction sites on a map, active and complete packages in table and deck views. Click on a construction site icon on the map, you will see brief information about this site and all relevant packages. A Final Note Choosing a manufacturing app can be difficult. If you're having trouble determining what mobile solutions would work best for your business in the manufacturing industry, check out our Manufacturing Solutions page for some great app ideas and templates. It's important to equip your business with the right resources, and our team at AppSheet is dedicated to helping individuals and businesses achieve their goals. Need more ideas for apps for your business? Checkout the AppSheet blog for useful tips, free templates, and more.  

AppSheet Named A Leader Among Mobile Low-Code Platforms for Business Developers by Independent Research Firm

Leading global research and advisory firm, Forrester Research, named AppSheet as a leader in Mobile Low-Code Development Platforms for Business Developers. We received the highest scores possible in thirteen specific criteria, including business model/service vision, product revenue growth rate, enterprise installation growth, mobile offline, platform administration, and AI and NLP. AppSheet was among a group of select companies that Forrester invited to participate in its report, The Forrester Wave™: Mobile Low-Code Platforms for Business Developers, Q3 2018. Forrester identified the twelve most significant low-code platform vendors and evaluated them against 30 criteria, which were grouped into three high-level buckets: current offering, strategy, and market presence. We achieved the highest score in the strategy category. In AppSheet’s vendor profile, Forrester’s report stated: “AppSheet is laser-focused on creating apps from business-friendly sources.” “The AppSheet platform stood out as a powerful facilitator for business users with little or no programming knowledge to create apps in a matter of minutes.” “Users on the platform create robust applications and leverage top notch app analytics for suggestions to improve performance.” Needless to say (but we will), we are more than proud of this achievement. To us, it is a validation of the hard work we’ve been doing over the fast few years to advance our intelligent, intent-driven no code platform and position it for the future where apps run in any “container.” We started this journey with all of you in 2014. Our mission was simple: everyone should be able to make apps. Fast forward to 2018: we have a powerful, positioned-for-the-future app development platform that has been recognized as a leader in our space by a leading global research and advisory firm. Yes, we are more than proud. We are grateful to all of our customers and partners who have taken this journey with us. Thank you. To get a complimentary copy of this Forrester Wave™ report, go here.

Digital Transformation Trends in Manufacturing

Automation and digitization have transformed manufacturing, opening the door for small manufacturers, as well as big players, to improve processes, increase efficiency and drive profits. The fact is, we are very much in the middle of what people are calling the third industrial revolution—Digital Manufacturing. Here’s a look at some of the industry trends. Smarter production lines The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is a way to connect products, materials and machines into one network that can be monitored and analyzed with relative ease. On production lines, this is accomplished with sensors detecting and recording the volume of raw materials coming in, as well as the subsequent manufactured products moving through the facilities. Digitizing the flow of products gives a precise overview of what materials are used and the time it takes in the production process, and can give managers insight into where they can cut costs and anticipate future needs. Ultimately, IIoT-enabled equipment offers precision and allows for a smarter way of doing business. For an example of just how smart a manufacturing facility can be, look at General Electric’s Brilliant Factory. The factory is a model of how software can be integrated with machines in a way that redefines the manufacturing process. Improved distribution and inventory management Known for quickly making inexpensive replicas of the latest high-end fashion trends and styles, the fashion giant Zara utilizes digital technology to hone in on consumer preferences. One way they do this is by attaching a radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag to each item of clothing sent to their retail stores. With the RFID tag attached, employees simply wave a small computer in front of the rack, and presto, it records the style, size and quantity of all the clothing on the rack. The ability to get frequent, real-time inventory updates allows the manufacturing facilities to respond to consumer needs. This cuts costs as they are able to ship more of the clothes that are selling and fewer of the underperformers. The technology continues to evolve. Currently, RFID has been used to carry expanded sets of data that can be used with statistical forecasting and can be plugged into algorithms that more accurately predict retail inventory and future demand. A three-dimensional way to manage suppliers Large or small, supply-chain operators are constantly struggling with how to manage multiple suppliers to manufacture a single product. On the extremely complicated side of this is the aerospace industry. More than a decade ago, Boeing was a pioneer in a manufacturing strategy known as virtual rollout. Using 3-D models of its 787 Dreamliners, Boeing was able to make a virtual simulation of the entire manufacturing process. This included all the parts to be sourced from various vendors. The result was better communication between engineers and manufactures that led to a reduction in the time it took for the product to reach market. Today, cloud-based solutions allow suppliers and manufacturers to communicate quickly and have access to virtual design plans that make communicating and collaborating more timely and efficient. And it's not just limited to big players like Boeing. Though smaller in scale, similar 3D modeling technology is widely available for small- to mid-sized manufacturers to model prototypes, give precise measurements and network with suppliers. There is a mind-boggling number of possibilities that go along with the digital transformation of manufacturing. Leveraging the power of available technology will ultimately make a company more competitive and more efficient. Check out: How a sawmill digitizes its production line through inventory tracking apps AppSheet manufacturing solutions More sample apps below:

Data Capture and Analysis: 5 Examples of Thinking Outside the Box

  From researchers working to beat cancer to city planners, almost every sector of society has been transformed by the ability to capture, analyze and learn from data. In the era of big data, the question for those in business is what data they need and how to capture it. News headlines are often dominated by the ways in which companies capture consumer data, but this is only part of the story. Different teams and divisions in a company need to be proactive in determining how they capture and utilize data for their own purposes. This process can require innovative thinking. The following five data capture examples illustrate how businesses can gather data they may not have thought of, helping them to make decisions and streamline processes. HR tools for consultants Managing and tracking expenses for contract workers can be a mess of paperwork, forms and receipts. By digitizing the paperwork, HR departments can capture and store data related to individual workers and use it to easily analyze expenses by category and keep a digitized record on hand. This is an example of how capturing data creates an organized, extensive record that can streamline payroll and budgeting. Construction Working at a construction site might seem like the last place for leveraging data. But site managers can easily capture data related to materials, inventory, progress — even store photographs or log work-related injuries. Plug all this into a data-management app and it can result in a precise picture of how work is proceeding. Organize data for a service log For technicians and service providers, keeping up with their data can be something of an organizational nightmare. During equipment inspections, keeping track of each job and each piece of equipment serviced (the condition, issues, who inspected it and when, resolutions, maintenance reminders) is a crucial, though cumbersome task. Likewise, those in the agriculture industry can be burdened by many folders and sub folders filled with maintenance reports and notes. That’s why customized apps that organize and prioritize tasks can give individuals and organizations a clear indication of what needs to be done and when. Streamline maintenance requests. Between managing payments, scheduling repairs and keeping track of maintenance issues, property managers can quickly get overwhelmed by the many to-dos they must juggle. This data can be streamlined into an app that allows customers to submit maintenance requests and for property managers to keep all documents on file, maintain status updates and more. Retail store inventory Instead of waiting to count all the existing store inventory and compare it to the sales report, the new solution for small business owners is to leverage data on the go. They can do this by using their mobile phone or tablet to scan bar codes to automatically enter data into a management app that keeps real-time inventory and can lead to better purchasing decisions. Though we are deep in the age of big data, teams and companies are a long way from exhausting the ways they can gather, manage and use that data. Through a combination of ingenuity and technology, teams can think bigger and  better.

What are citizen developers?

In 2009, Apple ran a series of commercials that put the phrase “There’s an app for that” in the minds of millions of Americans. Almost a decade later, there are even more apps that do even more specific tasks. But while there are apps that can tell you in a pirate’s voice where you parked or prevent you from drunk-dialing an ex, many need apps that are so specific and customized that they have to develop them. This is particularly true with departments or teams operating inside of a business or organization. What are citizen developers? Plenty of computer whizzes are fluent in a number of programming languages and can develop a custom app that can help increase efficiencies in a supply chain or help a project management team rein in a complex project. But increasingly, the trend is turning towards citizen development to create these apps. A citizen developer is someone who doesn’t necessarily know any programming languages and who might not even have a background in computers, but who nonetheless can piece together an app or a website that traditionally required specialized coding knowledge. Virtually anyone can become a citizen developer. For example, people who create their own website though Squarespace or Wix are citizen developers. When you set up a page through WordPress or Tumblr you’re a citizen developer. Similarly, AppSheet allows people with no specialized knowledge to create their own apps. With a spreadsheet and an idea you can become a citizen developer and create an app to suit your unique business needs. Why kind of apps are they creating? Who’s developing and using these custom apps? AppSheet data shows that users come from all sectors of the economy, which is evident by looking through some of the sample apps on their website. As far as what industries use AppSheet the most, the top two are Education (12.4% of total users) and Non-Profit (15.2%). Other major industries include Business Services, Construction, Medical, Technology, Manufacutring, Retail and Transportation. Within these various industries, AppSheet app creators come from almost every department (see more details in the pie chart below). We hate to bog you down with all these numbers, but they are proof that virtually anyone with a need for an app can create one to suit their unique business needs. More than 12,000 people are using AppSheet apps daily, with time-on-app averaging between 15 and 20 minutes a day. This proves that not only can you create customized apps, but that people will use your apps. You’ve probably spent some time customizing your Facebook page or Twitter handle. Creating your own app is only slightly more complicated, but much more useful! More about Citizen Developer and AppSheet App Creators: The AppSheet Manifesto Part 2: No-Code Is "Know"-Code The Wand Chooses the Wizard: the Appsheet Customer Definition