Apps, software and other tech to help you get the job done

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By Blair Eveleigh

You can manage

PYPE SMARTPLANS

No one likes project delays, least of all the contractor who has to deal with an angry or litigious client. The SmartPlans software uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze PDF project drawings and suggest traditional submittal requirements and deliverables that could be missed. It can also help create product, equipment, and finish schedules. pype.io

PROCORE

One platform to rule them all… The goal is to integrate plans, finances, schedules, tool management, and all the other aspects of every project on one platform. Procore provides a cloud-based program that it claims will house “every app, document, and person” and make everything accessible and collaborative, useful for everything from a small residential reno in Peterborough to a multi-million-square-foot development in Manhattan. procore.com

BRIDGIT BENCH

Still building workflow spreadsheets from scratch? Bridgit Bench, software from a Kitchener-Waterloo startup, aims to put your “workforce intelligence” to best advantage with tracking tools, charts, and graphs that optimize your people and projects. Bench also integrates with other project management applications. gobridgit.com

MANUALSLIB

Got a drawer stuffed full of user manuals – unsorted, dog-eared, pages missing or covered in coffee mug rings? This free online resource claims to have instructions at your fingertips for more than 3.8-million products, so you don’t have to dig through that drawer to figure out how to fix that nail gun that keeps jamming. manualslib.com

Get the job

PROJECT PLANNING APPS

Accurate project planning is essential. Get the estimate right – realistic cost and time projections – and your client will love you and you’ll walk away happy. Schluter-Systems has an app for calculating tile installation projects, everything from measuring the space to product and layout guidance and pricing. Designing a pool? Latham Pool Products has two apps for that: the online Liner Visualizer and the Pool Visualizer, which uses augmented reality to show what different styles and shapes would look like in the client’s own backyard. If they see it, they will build it, right? schluter.ca, lathampool.com

Get it delievered

FOOD DELIVERY APPS

Another time suck: going out for lunch. Meal delivery has been streamlined, and services such as Uber Eats, DoorDash, and SkipTheDishes all have super-efficient ordering and payment platforms. Save even more time by getting everyone to punch in their own orders and then tracking the delivery arrival so you can work up to the last minute. ubereats.com, doordash.com, skipthedishes.com

RENORUN

Time spent shopping for supplies is time not spent on the jobsite. Delivery services like RenoRun (in Toronto and Montreal and expanding across North America) can bring construction materials to you, saving hours picking up what you need – and standing in line atthe cash and sitting in traffic. Other companies with a similar service: ToolBX (select Ontario locations) and Biiibo (Southern Ontario and Vancouver). renorun.ca, toolbx.com, biiibo.com

Smile, you’re on camera

BRINNO CONSTRUCTION TIME-LAPSE CAMERAS

Brinno has a number of products for capturing the big picture, suitable for almost any project: wall-mounted, able to withstand the elements for outdoor recording, wide-angle, long-term. Get a live view, change the camera settings, or download a video to send to a client – or to upload, so you can go viral – all from your laptop. brinno.com

SAMSARA DASHBOARD CAMERAS

Hey, collisions happen. A dashcam video may be the only way to prove your company vehicle wasn’t at fault and get the driver off the hook. Samsara’s AI system also has sensors that alert for distracted driving, tailgating, rolling stops, and other potential hazards. samsara.com

BRIGADE BACKEYE360

New vehicles are increasingly sentient: all-seeing, all-knowing. But if your company van isn’t one of those, tacking on a camera will help prevent collisions and injuries. The Backeye360 is actually four cameras – one mounted on each side, front, and rear – that provide the driver with one seamless image, eliminating blind spots, which are dangerous even at slow speeds. brigade-electronics.com

TRACKING TAGS

Apple got a ton of publicity when it launched its AirTags recently, but there are other options out there, including Tile, Chipolo, Orbit, and TrackR. Stick a small device on your valuable equipment and tools, and you can use Bluetooth and an app to locate them if they should go astray. apple.com, tile.com, chipolo.net, findorbit.com, thetrackr.com

Safety First

PIXO VR LADDER SAFETY TRAINING

Every year, thousands get injured on the job by falling off a ladder. Sometimes it’s using the wrong ladder for the job or using faulty equipment, and sometimes it’s plain carelessness. Virtual training will help your workers before they take the first step. Pixo also offers first aid, CPR, fire prevention, hazard recognition, and other VR training experiences. Clear eyes, goggles on, stay safe. pixovr.com

ZELLO EMERGENCY ALERTS

If you’re a worker all alone on a jobsite and something hinky happens – think equipment failure, threatened violence, or even personal injury – you’ll want help and fast. Zello, an app that turns devices into push-to-talk walkie-talkies, provides a panic button feature that will send an urgent message to a designated contact. zello.com

CCOHS SAFE WORK APP

With the pandemic sticking around, and working from home not an option for builders and contractors, keeping COVID-compliant on site is crucial. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has a free app chock full of resources – PPE guidance, tip sheets, infographics, videos. Bonus: the app works without internet access. ccohs.ca

APPLE WATCH NOISE APP

Listen up! Jobsites are noisy places. Apple Watch’s noise app can help by alerting you when decibels get to a level when prolonged exposure can cause permanent damage. Other apps, like Decibel X (by SkyPaw), and one developed by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, handle the same task, by turning your smartphone into a sound monitor. apple.com, skypaw.com, cdc.gov/niosh