How this DPR Construction superintendent saves 3 hours a week on schedule updates
Last week I caught up with David Sproule, superintendent at DPR Construction, to learn a little about his background, the challenges he faces in updating the project schedule, and how he overcame those challenges on the project he is currently working on. A few of the topics we cover:
- How David saved three hours each week on project schedule update
- How to improve collaboration and communication with foremen regarding completion status updates
- How David sees construction tech that tends to promise a lot but deliver a little
- Where David would like to see StructionSite improve to better meet his needs as a superintendent
David has been with DPR for six and a half years, starting back in 2009 as a BIM intern. He is currently an area superintendent working on a $470 million technology office campus.
David describes his process for updating the project schedule, which involves remembering the status of construction for each area in his head and walking the job with an 11×17 plan to capture handwritten notes.
…and therein lies the problem…you just couldn’t take the detailed notes that you needed or you didn’t get to it because you got 10 phone calls.
A superintendent, interrupted while walking the job? I imagine this sounds familiar to some folks reading this right now.
How would you describe that process?
It was just cumbersome, not detailed enough, and just too difficult to really be able to manage while I’m doing my other job.
What do other supers do?
…it’s just in their head. They try to do the best they can and remember everything.
The building David is working in is five floors and totals roughly 380,000 sq. ft. Using a 360 camera and the StructionSite app, David can walk his entire building in an hour and a half. That’s about 4,000 sq. ft. per minute, capturing progress as he walks. Now he has a digital version of the jobsite and photographic evidence of the status of construction he can reference anytime he wants from his browser or phone.
This is a picture. You know you what you’re looking at and everybody understands what they’re looking at–there’s really no way to miscommunicate. That’s a really powerful thing for us.
Can you talk to us about actual time savings using StructionSite?
I would say going back and forth, I’m probably saving a good 3 to 4 hours a week. Maybe even more than that honestly, that’s probably conservative. You could call it a good day’s work.
David also shared with us an unexpected benefit to having a digital copy of his jobsite back at the office…
…not only is it great that I can access the site from my browser, I can reference other information at the same time I’m looking at these statuses. [Using multiple monitors] I can pull up StructionSite and I can pull up my P6 schedule, all my battle maps, and I can look at the drawings all at the same time.
He also adds:
I’m using StructionSite along with all the other information to make a plan of attack going forward, and you really can’t do that when it’s on a piece of paper. Often it’s not as detailed as it needs to be, you need to rush it out, and you don’t have time put it all together.
Can you talk about your experience getting introduced to StructionSite and your initial reactions?
Initially, I was hesitant because I saw I needed to connect to Wi-Fi, use this camera, then sync it back, and I would have to figure all this out while I’m doing my job. It needs to just work easily; I just don’t have time.
Did you have any issues getting trained up on it? What was it like when you actually started using it?
At first when Ocean Van, our BIM engineer, explained StructionSite I was thinking ‘No’, but then we just decided to take a look at it as a pilot program on our jobsite. It was a 15-minute conversation…I didn’t have any sort of problem understanding how it works at all.
How did this compare to other construction tech you’ve been exposed to?
People are always showing me apps and different software tools for construction, and I’m always thinking ‘that’s great, but how much effort do I have to put in to get anything of value out of it?’ This particular system requires very little effort of mine and I get a lot of out of it. This has definitely been huge for us as far as getting things done a lot faster.
How can StructionSite be improved to better meet your needs?
Speed. If we’re using it for reference in a meeting we’re going to have to fly through the plans and be able to click on [photos] quickly to see the status of different items. If the navigation could be faster, that would be great.
Would you use StructionSite on your next project?
Absolutely. Without a doubt. It’s been a huge time saver for me.
Finally, do you feel StructionSite gives DPR a competitive advantage?
StructionSite helps us plan our work more efficiently, understand where everything is at, push the job, and make the schedule.
I am incredibly grateful for the time David spent sharing some of his challenges with me. Hearing that we could be saving him a full day’s work each week during the most hectic part of the project is amazing. Here are my key takeaways:
- Trying to remember the status of construction in your head can lead to errors and details getting missed
- Frequent interruptions during jobwalks make handwritten notes on an 11×17 only partially useful when updating the project schedule
- Using a 360 camera with the StructionSite application lets you access the up-to-date jobsite back at your computer where you can reference the actual schedule on another monitor
- Having great photo documentation makes it easier for team members to share progress updates.
- Using StructionSite on this project saved David between three hours and an entire day’s work each week
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