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remote construction management

Nailing Remote Construction Management Projects Through Technology

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, managing construction projects remotely is increasingly becoming the norm. Construction and scaffolding companies are fast-tracking digital adoption to stay on track with project schedules, collaborate more effectively, and avoid workflow disruptions.

But what kind of technologies are the top scaffolding companies using to stay afloat and thrive not just in these turbulent times, but in an ever-changing world? Read on to find out about the tools that can facilitate remote construction management to help you future-proof your operations.

Benefits of Managing Remote Scaffold Projects Using Technology

Pre-pandemic, the duties of a project manager, such as ensuring on-time delivery of scaffolding, were often conducted manually and in-person. However, through specialized software and digital platforms, they can be performed more efficiently in a remote working environment.

The benefits of managing projects remotely for scaffolding companies using technology are numerous, such as:

  • Staying on schedule with project delivery through automated reminders
  • Managing different phases of a project remotely
  • Coordinating workflow between teams through communication platforms
  • Monitoring inventory and re-rentals online
  • Inspecting job sites virtually through augmented reality
  • Keeping stakeholders engaged when working in different locations

Below we’ve listed some digital tools and platforms that make scaffolding projects run smoothly in remote working conditions.

3 Types of Remote Construction Project Management Tools and Platforms

Here are some types of tools and platforms and how they can be beneficial to your project.

Integrated project management platforms

Need a comprehensive solution for managing projects, coordinating workflow between teams, billing, and more? An integrated project management platform could be the answer.

Integrated software allows project managers to stay on track with projects. It enables you to better manage daily workflow, share documents, and assign tasks remotely. You can streamline workflows with features like a real-time KPI dashboard, contact management, quoting and invoicing, and task management.

There are a number of integrated project management platforms that have been designed for the construction industry, offering field management and bid management features.

Collaboration and communication tools

When managing projects remotely, poor communication and collaboration can lead to costly outcomes. In fact, a 2018 report by PlanGrid found that on average, 52% of all construction re-work is caused by poor data and miscommunication.

Communication tools enable real-time collaboration through video conferencing, instant messaging, and file sharing, significantly improving project communication beyond email and phone calls.

Employees can communicate with one another in task groups, easily collaborate on issues, get timely updates, and stay connected even if they’re working in different time zones.

Scaffold rental management software

Utilizing scaffolding rental management software makes everyday operational tasks for scaffolding companies smoother and easier when working remotely, saving time and cost. For example, Avontus Quantify only takes minutes to log or process a scaffold request, compared to hours wasted on paperwork and the disruption of last-minute calls to your yard.

Avontus Quantify also allows project managers to monitor equipment availability, ship materials, generate invoices, set reminders, manage re-rentals, and oversee all your jobs in one place.

This easy-to-use program supports all the users you need, keeping you informed of all aspects of equipment and rental operations.  Field crews can self-service their questions about what materials are available at the yard and what’s already on site, send requests from mobile devices, and receive notifications as their requests are addressed.

You can track and monitor what’s available, damaged, re-rented, awaiting inspection, and more, without needing to be physically present.

For example, Alltask, a UK-based scaffolding contractor, previously faced issues  managing their growing inventory. Like many other scaffolding firms, they only relied on spreadsheets to track materials.

Upon deploying Quantify, it became easier to monitor the movement of individual components and check stock balances across the business. Missing items were immediately flagged by the software, and Alltask could use the data to hold customers and employees accountable.

Efficient Remote Construction Project Management

When managing projects remotely, whether during a pandemic or beyond, adopting digital technology is the way forward. These products help you improve work efficiency, stay on track with project workflow, and reduce project delays.

When it comes to software or technology to optimize your remote construction management projects, industry-specific tools like Quantify are better suited to your needs.

Find out more about how Avontus Quantify helps you keep track of scaffolding inventory and re-rentals in a remote working environment by clicking the link below.

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enterprise software

Choosing Your Enterprise Scaffolding Software: All-in-One vs. Best-in-Breed

If you’ve been scouting around for software to solve various pain points in your scaffolding company, you’ve probably encountered a confusing array of solutions. But they boil down to two categories: all-in-one solutions and best-in-breed solutions.

All-in-one solutions are software products that attempt to serve many different functions of a company. Think Swiss Army knife, but for scaffolding applications—a toolset that does many jobs, but none of them completely. On the other hand, best-in-breed solutions are specialized and deliver the best possible solution but for one function or a small group of functions.

Often, it’s fair to say that all-in-one solutions are generic, while best-in-breed programs are specialized for specific industries and needs.

Choosing the wrong software can be detrimental to your business; it’s an expensive mistake not just in paying the purchase price, but in recovering from the resulting disruption and inefficiencies.

One major risk is cost. All-in-one solutions are usually on the pricier end of the spectrum, whether in direct licensing cost or in customization, implementation, and training services. Best-in-breed solutions are less costly individually, but require careful consideration of all the software that you’ll implement to completely meet your needs.

If an all-in-one or best-in-breed software doesn’t serve the right purpose and is eventually abandoned, replacing it with another solution could end up doubling the budget.

Another risk is demotivating your employees. It often takes a significant amount of time and effort for staff to adapt to new software, especially if it isn’t designed specifically with scaffolding companies, or if it isn’t supported by a vendor who intimately understands your industry.

If your employees don’t find it useful or easy to use, or can’t get expert help while they’re learning, it could lead to a lack of confidence and reluctance to adopt new software in the future.

So how do you make the right decision for your company’s needs? Find out as we explain how to choose between all-in-one and best-in-breed scaffolding software.

All-in-one vs best-in-breed

A best-in-breed strategy means choosing the best product in its niche to meet the specific requirements of a business. For example, a scaffolding company may choose a best-in-breed solution for managing inventory, and another for communicating with employees in the field. 

All-in-one, or best-in-suite software, comes with a host of capabilities that are integrated into one platform, providing solutions for multiple aspects of an organization, from billing to human resources to inventory management.

What would be the best option for scaffolding companies? We recommend a best-in-breed approach for four reasons:

  • Best-in-breed solutions tend to be easier and quicker to implement compared to more complex all-in-one solutions. This allows companies to realize positive results sooner rather than later.
  • Scaffolding companies also have niche pain points, such as tracking and monitoring of scaffold inventory made up of thousands of non-serialized pieces that are constantly on the move in shipments large and small. A solution that’s hyper-focused on these particular pain points will make processes more efficient.
  • One of the cornerstones of best-in-breed solutions is the user experience. These applications tend to be better designed with the needs of end users at their core. This reduces the risk of rejection and maximizes productive value from the software. Scaffold teams usually don’t have time or interest in toying around with software—they want tools built to purpose that they can put to work immediately with as little fuss as possible.
  • Finally, best-in-breed software for the scaffolding industry leverages deep industry knowledge to provide an ideal solution that delivers results more effectively than all-in-one products, backed up by support and training teams that better understand the needs of scaffolding companies and thus can more quickly help users with their questions.

Avontus Software: Best-in-breed for scaffolding companies

Avontus provides two best-in-breed solutions for scaffolding companies — Avontus Designer and Avontus Quantify — that address both the scaffold planning and the scaffold management aspects of the business.

  • Designer and Quantify are both built with ease of use in mind. Designer has an intuitive interface that allows users to automatically create 3D models and a bill of materials in minutes. Quantify provides a process that mirrors the day-to-day activities of scaffold teams, along with instant reporting that helps managers stay in full control while freeing up countless hours.
  • As best-in-breed products, Designer and Quantify offer features unheard of in all-in-one CAD and project management applications. Designer creates facade, tank, boiler, and stair scaffolds in seconds, and Quantify tracks every piece of equipment, from purchase to job to write-off, while automatically creating rental invoices based on the standard practices of the scaffold industry.
  • User-friendliness is another of the key differentiators of both Designer and Quantify. Both products have an exceptional level of implementation success — once deployed, they have a near-100% customer retention rate, in no small part due to the in-depth training and support each user receives from Avontus.
  • Avontus developers are well-aware of the ins-and-outs of the scaffolding industry. Designer and Quantify provide unique features only scaffolding insiders would think of — and that scaffolding businesses require for operational excellence every day. They make winning bids and maximizing productivity easier than ever. 

Case Study #1: SMS Group Services

Avontus Software offers sophisticated industry-specific solutions to businesses like SMS Group Services, a company in Western Australia that provides end-to-end access management solutions for industrial projects.

Before deploying Avontus software, projects kept getting delayed due to inaccurate inventory management and manual data entry processes.

SMS is now using Quantify to manage stock, track consumables, and monitor vehicles, which has improved accuracy. Information is centralized and accessible across the company. This enables the company to modify designs based on where equipment is, prevent materials from being left behind, and ensure accurate invoicing.

Read more about this case study here.

Case Study #2: Total Access Ltd

Avontus Designer’s features also enable users to cut down on costs. Total Access Ltd, one of New Zealand’s largest scaffolding suppliers, estimated that the monthly cost of Designer is equivalent to just a few hours of an engineer’s time.

A draftsman can create a computer model in a fraction of the time it usually took to construct a sample structure in the yard. Engineers sign off or make changes by simply viewing the visual representation instead of making site visits.

Sending detailed 3D visualizations also impresses customers and inspires confidence in the company, leading to more sales. With Avontus Viewer, an augmented reality tool, customers receive an even more accurate view of a scaffold design.Read the full story here.

Best-in-breed software for your scaffolding management needs

By selecting best-in-breed tools such as Avontus Designer and Avontus Quantify, you ensure that your scaffolding company is getting the most out of your investment.

With industry-specific features that closely align to solving your team’s challenges and dedicated, knowledgeable support, you’ll be able to benefit from the software in short order.

Find out more about what Designer and Quantify can do for you by clicking the link below.

Calculating Scaffolding Materials and Cost

Calculating Scaffolding Materials and Cost

Material and cost calculations form a major part of a scaffolding business. They allow a company to track its scaffolding inventory and furnish jobs with adequate materials at the most profitable rate. 

However, many companies still rely on legacy methods like manual scaffold design and material calculation.

You know how frustrating it can be when just a small mistake results in expensive rework. Worse, you end up wasting precious time to amend your mistakes and can even lose credibility among your customers.

That’s why it’s so important to get your calculations right, the first time. This is where modern, industry-specific software can be beneficial.

Want to know more? You’re in the right place, just keep reading!

Challenges with Current Scaffolding Material and Cost Calculation Methods

No doubt, relying on established scaffolding material and cost calculation is convenient as everyone in your organization is used to the inner workings of your company. 

But familiarity doesn’t always translate into improved efficiency. 

To address the challenges with current calculation methods, first let’s visualize how scaffolding jobs come about and are usually managed.

Disconnect Between Scaffolding Design and Material Calculation

Scenario: Perhaps a client has approached you with a scaffolding proposal request. Or maybe there’s a new scaffolding bid that you’ve got your sights on. No matter the case, the next step would be to design scaffolding as per project requirements.

 

But to design and calculate scaffolding materials, you must gather building information like planned use, total working area, height and length of scaffolding, maximum live and dead load weight. Then, proceed with designing the scaffolding using one of the two methods below: 

 

Method 1: Given the complexity of non-industry-specific software like AutoCAD, you may still resort to low-tech hand-drawn scaffolding design, which is then counted manually for the Bill of Materials (BOM).

 

However, manually sourcing and inputting this information poses a risk of data inaccuracy. And more complex designs only lead to a higher risk of human error in calculating scaffolding materials manually.

On the other hand, many companies also use a more modernized approach to designing scaffolds and counting materials.  

 

Method 2: Non-industry-specific solutions like AutoCAD are widely used to design scaffolding. But these solutions lack capabilities needed by scaffolding companies. For example, AutoCAD only gets the designing part right; the same can’t be said for material calculation. You must then integrate AutoCAD with a counter app to get the BOM.

 

The distinct disconnect between manual scaffolding design process and material calculation will only result in design rework and delayed building time. 

Inaccurate Material Calculation Leads to Inaccurate Cost Estimates

After scaffolding design and material calculation comes cost estimation. A competitive estimate is one of the keys to landing that bid and getting the proposal approved by clients. 

But let’s face it, the scaffolding industry and its competitive bidding nature may cause companies to underestimate the project scope and rush through the entire process. Coupled with a disconnected scaffolding system, just a small design inaccuracy can lead to expensive material and cost miscalculations. 

Does the scenario below seem familiar? 

 

Scenario: In the heat of getting the scaffolding proposal done, you overlooked the fact that the job site is on a sloping surface. In your design, you used normal base jacks instead of swivel jacks. 

 

The business then needs to go back to the drawing board (literally, if you’re using manual design and counting methods) to correct the cost estimation.

A worst-case scenario would be to send the wrong materials to a job site. These mistakes mean spending more time on the job site and expending more on labor costs, which translates into higher operating costs. 

This was the case with one of our own customers, Skyline Scaffold. Manual equipment counting was not only tedious, it also led to inaccurate designs. As a result, designs had to be amended at the very last minute. In the worst-case scenario, jobs were sometimes postponed too.  

We saw lower returns, higher freight costs and higher design costs. We also had higher labor costs when we had to make a design change, adapt systems halfway through a project or spend extra time in the yard separating rented equipment from our own.

Jeff Remfert, General Manager of Skyline Scaffold

Read More: Case Study: Skyline Scaffold


Disconnect Between Scaffolding Material and Labor Cost Calculation

But equipment and materials alone don’t contribute to the total scaffolding cost. Labor costs also play a huge part. It’s often calculated using scaffold metrics such as total weight, the number of pieces, or even the scaffolding volume. 

 

Scenario: Based on your previous projects, it takes about 10 man-hours to assemble and disassemble each cubic metre of scaffolding. Once you’ve finalized the design, you then proceed to calculate the estimated labor cost according to that standard. Unfortunately, you’ve accidentally miscalculated scaffolding materials required. 

 

When there’s a scaffold metric miscalculation, you’ll also have an inaccurate estimation of labor cost. If left unrectified – in a worst-case scenario – you may even be working at a loss. 

In the scaffolding field, seemingly simple mistakes can add up and lead to increased costs and a less-than-stellar reputation among your customers.  

Avontus: A Modern and Industry-Specific Solution

If manual scaffolding operations are how things are done in your company, then it’s high time that you broke the mold.

Why? Well, the last thing you need is poor efficiency and even poorer profit margins becoming the norm in your organization.

Remember the modern and industry-specific solution that we discussed in the beginning?

That’s how you’re going to upgrade your scaffolding material and cost calculations in line with the industry’s fast-paced and competitive nature. 

With this approach, your scaffolding business can benefit from the following:

Fast Data Capture

Fast-paced industry requires fast information capturing. So out with that manual measuring and inputting of building information. A modern and industry-specific solution should be able to instantly import plans. 

Avontus’ Scaffold Designer does just that. Just import the building plan in PDF, AutoCAD formats, or even satellite images; then, drag and drop scaffolds into place. Not only does it save time, instant plan importing greatly improves design accuracy too.  

In the Import/Export tab, select the type of file with your building information that you want to import. 

Information Customizability

Your projects come with varying requirements. Sticking with a one-size-fits-all manual approach can limit your capability as a scaffolding business. So, your modern and industry-specific solution should also allow the customization of project information.

For example, some of the important information that must be present in the materials database for easy identification are part numbers, dimensions, and descriptions. This database must be customizable, as you might need to customize the BOM based on the materials that you’re using for a project.

With Scaffold Designer, you can customize the materials database and easily add components (e.g. emergency exit route, rescue and loading platform, etc.) into your scaffolding designs. 

Not only can you generate a BOM for each scaffold design created, you can also edit it to add parts, modify quantities, or change the description of a part. 

Error-Free, Integrated Materials and Cost Calculation

As stated earlier, scaffolding design is followed by material calculation and cost estimation. Wouldn’t it be better if these processes were integrated for seamless operations? With an industry-specific and modern solution, you can easily bring together different aspects of your business. 

That’s why we enabled Scaffold Designer to be integrated with Quantify, our scaffold inventory management system. Now, you can instantly create estimates based on your BOM while viewing the available inventory balance. 

Integrate Scaffold Designer with Quantify to seamlessly transition from design to material calculation to cost estimation. 

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Accurate Scope Visualization and Confirmation

It’s only logical that you share your scaffolding plan with your clients to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding project requirements. Scaffold Designer allows you to create and export living models (2D plans and 3D models) into various formats (e.g. PDF, 3D, and 2D DWG).

On the other hand, our dedicated design visualization software – Scaffold Viewer – has high-tech capabilities like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

Together, customers will then be able to see every aspect of the design. For example, maybe you included a compact 8-leg stair tower in your plan instead of a stacked one.

With a living model, customers can request for design modifications before men and materials hit the job site. Once you’ve nailed your scaffolding proposal as per customer’s requirements, instantly turn them into a shipment and you’re ready for that job.

Export your design into 3D PDF format and share it with your customers for confirmation before proceeding with work.

Upgrade Your Material and Cost Calculation Methods

When you get the scaffolding design right, the corresponding material and cost calculation will be accurate too, especially if you use an integrated scaffolding system. 

Overall, inaccuracies and inefficiencies are minimized while productivity and profitability are maximized.  

With all the added capabilities afforded by Avontus, isn’t it high time that you’ve upgraded your scaffolding materials and cost calculating system? 

Contact our team and we’ll show you how to nail your estimates and win more bids with modern scaffolding software.


Related: Introduction to Estimating Scaffold Materials & Costs with Scaffold Designer


6 Must-Haves for Scaffold Rental Management Software

Scaffold rental management software is the engine that drives your scaffolding business towards greater productivity and profitability. 

There are many options on the market, and they’re not all designed the same. Some focus solely on inventory management, while others offer seamless integration with scaffold design software. 

No matter the purpose, some features are unmissable for scaffold rental management software.

Keep reading to know the six must-haves for an efficient scaffold rental management software. 

 

Must-Have Features for Scaffold Rental Management Software

For your scaffolding business to thrive, it needs a solid scaffold rental management software that has the following features:

 

Built Specifically for Scaffolding Industry

First things first, your scaffold rental management software must be built specifically for the scaffolding industry. Why, you ask? Well, using an industry-specific solution means that it’s able to handle specific job requirements. Developers of such solutions are aware of the ins-and outs of the scaffolding industry and their software will also address most of your scaffold management needs.  

For example, in the scaffolding business, it’s important to be able to track jobs and materials across different locations like branch office, laydown yard, staging area, and job sites. This is to ensure you get maximum utilization out of your scaffolding equipment and materials. 

Besides keeping track of equipment and materials, managing re-rent (cross-hire) in line with owned inventory is another important feature specific to the scaffolding industry. Using a software that enables cross-hire will let you know when you have enough materials to return to the vendor. It prevents costs from adding up unnecessarily and helps to maximize your scaffolding business ROI

 

Intelligent Scaffold Business Data Automation, Reporting, and Analysis

Too much data, too little time. Don’t let this be the case for your scaffolding business. Data automation is necessary in today’s digitized scaffolding landscape, where efficient data processing can raise your company’s profitability. One way to achieve this is by choosing a software that automates tedious and repetitive processes like customer order requests, invoicing, accounting, and many more.

The software must also be able to transpose business data into customizable reports and pivots to monitor how your business is performing and help you make profitable business decisions. 

Another capability of a scaffold rental management software is providing an instant view of inventory utilization. This feature can help you determine if you have enough available inventory to furnish a job. 

Besides that, the scaffold management system must allow a scaffold branch office or job site balance to go negative. This data analytics feature acts as a monitoring tool that makes your inventory auditing procedure (e.g. cycle count) more efficient.

Other important analytical features are return count and blind count sheets. They’ll help you track and bill your customers for lost, damaged, and missing equipment to recoup any costs incurred. 

 

Seamless Integration for a Streamlined Scaffolding Solution

Integration is essential, especially if you use different software to address different areas of your business. The resulting best-of-breed solution should then be intuitive and error-free.

The scaffold rental management solution should offer stable and seamless integration with scaffold design software. This way, you can provide an accurate drawing and materials list to your customers without incorrect data duplication. Afterall, poor data management is a major contributor of global construction rework.

Besides design software, the scaffold rental management software should also offer integration with common accounting systems that allow customized billing methods like arrears, advance, and first advance, then arrears. You can then choose the most suitable billing options depending on cash flow, customer payment behavior, service costs, etc.

 

Customizable Solution with Flexible Pricing Tiers

Being forced to stick with a common pricing package that requires a long-term commitment or per-user pricing package is frustrating. It’s even worse when the chosen package doesn’t even fulfill all your scaffolding business objectives. 

So, the software should be priced according to the size of your business. Most importantly, choose one with a per-branch licensing option. This way everyone from the job-site foreman to the branch Chief Financial Officer (CFO) will have access to scaffold inventory information. The end result? Improved efficiency across your company. 

 

Quick Install, Seamless Onboarding, Easy to Use, and Unlimited Support

For scaffolding businesses – or any for-profit business for that matter – time is money. So, the software should offer quick install with minimal business downtime. After installation comes onboarding and here, vendor support and training for your staff are equally important to enable timely software utilization. 

In addition, an intuitive system UI also empowers your staff to start using the software in next to no time. With unlimited support, ongoing updates, and new release training, you can successfully manage your business operations.

 

Quantify: A Powerful Inventory Management System for the Scaffolding Industry

Quantify is one of the most powerful inventory management systems built specially for the scaffolding industry. It expertly handles all requirements that a scaffolding business needs with unlimited and tailored support provided by Software Assurance.

With real-time inventory insights, Quantify offers accurate material estimates based on scaffold designs. The outcome is a production-ready proposal, minus the unnecessary concerns over equipment or material availability. Once you win a bid and get the job, instantly turn your estimate into a shipment right from the software, and you’re good to go. 

Since Quantify is an inventory management system, use it to monitor the materials and progress of each job at different branches. 

Use Quantify's Estimates tab to monitor job progress

Leverage Quantify’s Estimates tab to monitor scaffold materials and the status of each job.

 

Besides that, Quantify’s .NET API makes it easy to integrate with any accounting system for efficient bookkeeping. Scaffold estimates from Scaffold Designer are fully compatible with Quantify. All you need to do is to save your scaffold estimates and import the file into Quantify to complete the integration. Hence, you can easily avoid redundant data entry and inaccurate information.  

Integrate Quantify and Scaffold Designer

Seamless integration is possible between Quantify and Scaffold Designer.

 

Quantify has several licenses to choose from: Small Business, Enterprise, and Industrial. Each of these versions offers a per-branch license, not per-user. With everyone having unlimited access to inventory information, jobs can be completed productively. 

If you’re already using rental software, switching to Quantify and migrating data from your original system couldn’t be easier. Just import your existing customer, materials, counts, and rates with a simple tab-separated spreadsheet file.

Import information into Quantify

Import important scaffolding business information right from the Import tab.

 

Want to see Quantify in action? 

Book a personal Quantify walkthrough with our team today.