Whether you're working for an architects' practice or a construction company, as a contractor or supplier or anywhere in-between the two, we'd hazard a guess that some of your targets revolve around safety and sustainability.
But even with so much industry attention on these two watchwords, it's not always easy (or cheap) to make the necessary improvements to working practices to hit targets.
Technology is changing this, especially for architects. Simple adjustments and additions to your meeting room can transform the way in which you interact with clients, co-workers and other contributors to the central project.
Read on for a quick look at the meeting room technology you need to drive up sustainability and improve safety records on your next project.
Sustainability and environmental targets are a big challenge for modern construction and architectural design companies. Everyone in the supply chain is aware of their environmental impact and many businesses have their own targets that they need suppliers and contributors to help them reach. Once again technology has stepped up to deliver.
For architects and construction companies, the big issue here is paper, paper and more paper.
Plans change regularly in the construction industry, whether it's out of regulatory necessity or simply evolving aesthetics. Traditionally, a shift in the location of a say a wall or a window would require a total reprint of that particular section. But as you know, you're not just reprinting the plans once; you're reprinting them dozens of times to ensure everyone on the team is working from the same set.
Software developers, like PlanGrid, have worked to create technology to solve this problem allowing people to annotate and share plans digitally. On the hardware side, the solution is a touchscreen like the Clevertouch Pro Series, or for smaller rooms, a high quality display screen, such as the Sony FW-43XE8001.
With high resolution displays like these (note you really should be investing in 4K when your work involves detailed plans and figures) the need to print and reprint plans is removed.
In the office, teams can review crystal clear design plans on a screen large enough for the whole team to work with. Meanwhile, on site iPads and laptops can be used to send information back to the office with feedback as the project develops.
In addition to the safety benefits of keeping everyone on the latest version of the designs, this digital approach removes the need for regular mass print outs and reduces the enormous quantities of paper otherwise consumed by architects and construction firms across the country.
You're no doubt making huge efforts to use more sustainable materials in your design projects so keeping travel and therefore your company's carbon footprint to an absolute minimum follows suit. Making the switch from paper to digital may seem like a big deal, but touchscreen technology is already prevalent in your personal life with iPhones and iPads, it’s just a matter of making that comparatively small workflow change to reap massive efficiency and sustainability rewards.
Risk reduction is a big deal right across the construction sector. No doubt you've come across it in one form or another as part of an industry-wide safety push.
For project managers, there are boxes to tick and documents to file to meet legislative requirements when it comes to safety. This alone is enough to cause stress and a massive pile of paperwork before you've even started to look at what you could be doing in addition to meeting minimum requirements.
But you're dedicated, diligent, and you want to go above and beyond. Technology is here to take some of the pressure off and help you deliver.
The funny thing about risk reduction is that while it all revolves around improving the safety of the site and the final build, so much of the work that helps reduce risk actually takes place off site. This is especially true at the design stage of a construction project.
Fire, security, strength, materials … the list of regulations that need checking and double checking by multiple contributors is almost endless. As project manager, the worry is that you'll miss one vital piece of feedback and a critical safety element will be missing from the final plans that are sent to site. Synchronisation is key.
You can reduce this risk substantially by giving technology a bigger part to play. Take touchscreens, like the Clevertouch Pro series, for example. The screen allows you to not just annotate files – over just about any software installed on the connected work station – but by keeping everything digital you can also track each and every change, highlight who made the changes and when.
It's a game changer when it comes to meeting efficiency and efficacy. Whether your meeting just involves the people gathered round the screen in the room, external contributors or even the client wants to jump in remotely, you can annotate the designs and plans in the moment to ensure that there are no misunderstandings or lost amendments.
Furthermore, once the meeting has finished you can save and share the meeting notes and material instantly using email or cloud functionality so there's no excuse for the right people not to have the right files.
If you are in the habit of working with a mixture of remote and local employees and contractors, don't forget to check the visual and audio quality of your video conferencing setup too. It's far too risky to expect people to collaborate over a bad line. Logitech do some great packages, check them out here.
The real value of meeting room technology from a safety perspective is its power to reduce human error.
Collaborating on big budget, high risk project requires communication to be on point, whether they’re visual or written. You need a system where the person responsible can be the one to add the exact information needed. With the right setup, project manager and team can watch as they annotate and track changes and talk you through what they're doing no matter where they are.
Touchscreen technology and modern video conferencing setups achieve all this with ease, taking a weight off the project manager and supporting the team as a whole in your push to improved safety records.
Consider what 2017’s technology has to offer and cement your reputation as an eco-friendly, safety-first firm. Not only does your reputation depend on it, but these simple additions to your meeting room have the power to make your life and the lives of your team infinitely easier.
To find out more about how technology could improve safety and sustainability in your business, please call us on 0800 073 0834 or send a message to our experts.