Inspection processes, like other aspects of construction management, are evolving — and that’s good news for specialty paint and coatings businesses. While it may seem that traditional, manual methods need not change, there are several compelling reasons why many firms are switching to software-based inspection processes. The most important is worker safety.
Coatings companies are gaining a competitive edge by moving their inspection processes to mobile. Photo: adobestock.com / beatleoff
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) uses its News Release/Enforcement page to publish the dozens of violations it identifies each month. Prominent on each list are construction and related firms — a somber reminder that jobsite conditions are complex and difficult to oversee. Achieving optimal safety requires timely, detailed inspections.
Online law and government information site hg.org features an article, “Construction Defects: What Often Goes Wrong and How the Contractor Can Avoid Defects Litigation.” Originally published in the mid-1990s, it gives insight into the difficulties contractors faced in their effort to reduce defects in a pre-digital era.
“Inspection is a crucial function that does not start with the building inspector,” according to the article. “Inspection must begin with the superintendent [who] must be aware of the resources available to him … to assure that the work is being performed in accordance with the approved plans and specifications, the manufacturer’s recommendations … and in conformance with the requirements of the Codes.”
This assessment reflects an extraordinary burden of responsibility along with a presumption of extensive, inherent knowledge on the part of every supervisor. It is often a lack of adequate access to all available resources that results in an incomplete inspection, which consequently causes defects to be missed. This situation can be alleviated using conditional software that feeds relevant data to the inspector and is available in real time via a mobile device on the job site.
There is a direct market benefit to honing the inspection process — winning more work. The underlying goal of quality control and risk management is to reduce mistakes and prevent slowdowns. Improving the end product and delivering it early or on time earns new business.
Inspections directly support quality control and lower risk by benchmarking progress against a project’s predefined scope, budget and goals. But they can only do so if this information is complete, accurate and accessible.
the Age of Paper and DESKTOP Computers
In the past, the complexity of inspections often became apparent only after litigation, safety incidents or citations and/or owner feedback shed light on the weaknesses of the process. Paper forms, which in theory had been completed and stored chronologically, were often difficult to locate or were found to be incomplete. Notes and photos meant to accompany the forms easily became separated and lost. Because information transmission and storage were so difficult, supervisors, owners and other key personnel had limited access to project details.
The first wave of digital inspection management — with servers, desktop computers and software — greatly improved the process, but emailed files or files on the server were still sometimes lost. Incompatible file types were particularly difficult to keep together (think Word documents or PDFs that needed the support of photographic evidence, stored in JPG form).
Mobile, cloud-based solutions, like Kordata’s Coatings FastStart, offer a welcome alternative to paper and desktop applications. PHOTO: courtesy of the author
accurate, flexible, Cloud-Based Solutions
Mobile, cloud-based solutions, like Kordata’s Coatings FastStart, offer an alternative to paper and desktop applications. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) inspection forms are easy to access in the field, using a tablet or smartphone, even when an internet connection isn’t available. Once forms are completed and synced to the cloud, they are instantly accessible to other team members. Many software solutions offer the flexibility to lock down inspection data so that it cannot be altered by non-authorized staff. File types automatically integrate, meaning that related information files, even if in different formats, are kept together in chronological order.
The accuracy of each line item is dramatically enhanced by the use of a cloud-based solution. Inspection forms are tailored to the company and project at hand and capture the precise information needed. Conditional logic is used to lead personnel through clear, succinct data-input options. Cloud-based solutions also offer increased flexibility in the overall inspection and reporting effort. Users can add follow-up inspections to initial inspection data in a single report. Forms can be carried over from project to project, gaining efficiencies each time.
The benefits of switching to cloud-based data collection such as Kordata’s Coatings FastStart are immediately realized. Schedules — and profits — are easier to maintain, because real-time information sharing via the cloud can lead to faster problem resolution. Defects and safety oversights are less likely to escalate, reducing the risk of incidents, citations or litigation. These benefits compound as they carry over from project to project … with one of the most prominent advantages being a company culture that is competitive in the 21st-century marketplace.