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The Cookie Conundrum: Don’t Just Automate, Innovate!

In the 1980s, Mrs. Fields Cookies was one of the most successful operations in the country, with hundreds of company-owned stores in 30+ states.  Combined cookie sales were in the $80+ million-dollar range and rising. The success of the company is largely due to an investment in computers. Randy Fields, husband of Debbi Fields, the company’s founder, believed that it was demeaning to have a human do a job that a computer could do. There’s no joy or purpose in that!


It’s a viewpoint that directly translates to construction field management processes


Think about this: One of the most important documents created in the field is the daily report. It’s one of the first documents that legal will review in a claim because it serves as a record of what happened on that jobsite during the period of time in question. From weather to internal staff and subcontractors to project progress, the daily report has it all.


Yet, talk to any superintendent, project engineer, foreman or project manager, and they will tell you that the last thing they want to do is fill out a daily report. So, it often doesn’t get done or it doesn’t get done well. Sometimes, the person waits until the weekend and writes a whole week’s worth of daily reports. Over the years, technology has helped. Daily reports are digitized with electronic daily report forms on a laptop, tablet, or phone—but the forms are not automatically generated. We’ve simply put the same process on a smaller device. 


What if you could automatically input the necessary data of a daily report?


One way is to pull time and attendance from jobsite access control systems. That’s the labor tracking portion of a daily report! As well, robotics total station, and other pieces of equipment measure progress—another big piece of the daily report.  Heavy civil equipment and drone-based systems measure how much earth is moved and project progress. 


We have the ability to capture hyper-localized weather throughout the life of the project by linking to the National Weather Service’s weather station or, if that’s not close enough, to the weather stations installed on cranes, structures, or even people!


And, we can use this data to be proactive instead of reactive. For example, notifying field staff of approaching weather that could impact their safety.


We have the technology to track most anything on a jobsite—we should be looking for ways to use that data to eliminate the manual preparation of a daily report altogether. A daily report should what the name implies, a report that is run to see what information was captured on a day or series of days.


The beginnings of this optimized solution are available today. As your company looks to realize the potential of technology, don’t just buy solutions that automate your processes or simply operate in the Cloud with a browser feel. Innovative solutions do more than allow your staff to manually capture and track data; they should eliminate tedious activities such as daily reports.


Remember the cookie connection – it’s demeaning to have a human do a job that a computer can do. Put your technology to work!


By Dan Conery, Director of Product Marketing, Trimble