Contractors in all sectors have long relied on portable technologies to maximize operational efficiency in the field. Early iterations of these devices were designed specifically, and exclusively, to perform a narrow range of duties; their software was highly specialized, largely static, and could only communicate within limited internal networks. These restrictions basically ensured that such computers would never leave the worksite, and so it did not matter if the devices were bulky, or heavy, or used unfamiliar interfaces that required technological expertise to operate. All of this specialization also carried a hefty price tag, both at the time of purchase and in training and maintenance costs over a product’s lifetime. While the ergonomics of this class of field tech have improved over the years, similar devices are still found on many worksites today.
NEW HIRES: CONSUMER TECH HITS THE JOBSITE
In recent years, the rise of high-quality consumer mobile computers has created both new opportunities and challenges in this sector. On one hand, these compact, user-friendly smartphones and tablets can easily transition from the field to the office. Their widely used operating systems ensure easy information transfer, short training times, and a wealth of accessible tech support. Most importantly, the availability of thousands of different apps turns these devices into complete technology toolboxes, putting all relevant project data at the fingertips of industry professionals, where and when they need it. However, whereas traditional field computers were limited by their less mobile size, the average Galaxy Smartphone or Apple iPad is ill-equipped to weather the dirt, drizzle, and droppage inherent to rugged work environments. Add a pricey protective case and an extended warranty, and you are left with a device nearly as awkward and expensive as its predecessors.
RUGGED MOBILE HANDHELDS: THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
Luckily, a third category of product has emerged to meet the needs of today’s modern contractors: the fully-rugged mobile handheld. These devices combine tough hardware design with flexible software powered by a universal operating system to create an ideal, field-ready machine. Cedar Tree Technologies, an American company with roots in both consumer and industrial technology solutions, has leveraged its expertise to successfully combine these elements into its CTx product line, a series of rugged, GPS-enabled smartphones and tablets powered by Google’s Android operating system. These devices, along with optional hardware and software add-ons, can be equipped to meet the needs of industrial companies and individuals of any size, from any field.
FROM THE FIELD: PLUMBING AND TECHNICAL MAINTENANCE
Plumbing, engineering, and HVAC contractors have purchased Cedar Tree’s CT4 fully-rugged smartphone to act as a more affordable and durable replacement device for expensive consumer smartphones; the CT7 rugged tablet also allows them to rely less on bulky laptops, vehicle-tethered computers, and other less portable devices that hinder movement on the jobsite. Since the IP68-rated CT4 and CT7 have no trouble being dropped, dirtied, or fully-submerged, plumbing professionals can safely keep a device on them at all times, regardless of the work conditions. This assurance lets them take full advantage of hundreds of available Android apps for estimating, timekeeping, technical documentations, and compliance facilitation.
Software Spotlight: Formotus
Contractors operating in a variety of technical and utility-related industries use Formotus, a dynamic form-design and data collection platform, to cut wasted time and costs out of their work processes. Formotus gives users the ability to easily create custom forms to collect data in the field, both while working on equipment and when interacting with clients. Beyond text and numbers, this platform is also equipped with photo, signature, barcode, and location capture capabilities. With smooth offline functionality, an emphasis on data security, and the ability to be easily integrated with existing back-end systems, Formotus enhances efficiency in professional organizations of all sizes. Free trials of this software are currently available through its partnership with Cedar Tree.
FROM THE FIELD: FORESTRY
Forestry and lumber contractors utilize Cedar’s CT7 rugged tablets for record-keeping, inventory management, pricing, grading, and reporting. Android’s highly-versatile platform also facilitates the integration of accounting systems with field data, making contractors more efficient and enabling their clients to price more jobs and manage more raw materials.
Software Spotlight: TallyWorks
Tradetec, an American software design firm specializing in forestry applications, improves workflow through its integrative management program, TallyWorks. TallyWorks helps users manage inventory by location while facilitating all of the subprocesses along the way, from tract value estimations to standing inventory management to financial reporting. The program’s flexible handheld software, LogMaster, puts real-time resource tracking right at the user’s fingertips.
ABOUT CEDAR TREE
Cedar Tree Technologies is where ultra-ruggedness, affordability, and intuitive software collide. Based in Corvallis, Oregon, Cedar Tree offers rugged handheld and tablet devices that utilize Google’s Android operating system, providing clients with access to thousands of field computing applications for business. Cedar’s professional customers come from a wide range of fields, including construction, natural resource management, and geospatial technology. With technology that works as hard as its customers, Cedar Tree helps bring the office outdoors.
Brought to you by the founders of Juniper Systems, Inc., Cedar Tree is deeply rooted in its core values of practical innovation; consistent quality; and respect for its customers, employees, and the natural world which we all share. ■
About The Author:
Rob Davis has more than two decades of experience in managing sales, marketing, and management teams in the mobile technology and technology sectors. A veteran of companies, such as Trimble, Insight, Televerde, and Fujitsu, plus an enthusiastic technologist, Rob has led many projects in the enterprise mobility market. For more information, visit www.cedartreetechnologies.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, March 2015
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