Contractor Operations Software Upgrades a Business to Super Duty

Read the article in Allied Paving Equipment - August 2023

The pad and pen with a nearby calculator have long been replaced by a computer and a wide array of computer software for most industries. The fundamental definition for software is it is the entire set of programs, procedures, and routines associated with the operation of a computer system. The term was coined to differentiate these instructions from hardware, which is the physical components of a computer system.

For the asphalt paving industry, software not only makes computer hardware perform important tasks, but can also help a paving business work more efficiently. The right software can even lead to new ways of working. Software is therefore a crucial business asset and is chosen to match a contractor’s business needs.

“Software applications drive better efficiency and performance across paving workflows by eliminating manual steps and making it faster and easier to capture and share information,” stated Greg Norris, communications director with B2W Software, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. “For example, specialized estimating software allows paving contractors to complete bids up to twice as fast and far more accurately than competitors relying on spreadsheets. That leaves more time for strategy and helps them win more jobs at better margins.”

Replacing paper field logs and timecards with a performance tracking software application streamlines how data on labor, production, equipment and materials can be captured in the field. This can allow for daily reporting that can be compared to the project plan, so contractors can adjust operations immediately.

“A scheduling and dispatching application gives paving contractors real-time, online visibility,” Norris said. “This is a big advantage over whiteboards and spreadsheets for managing crew assignments, material deliveries and equipment moves efficiently in a dynamic environment, where requirements can change constantly and quickly.”

Norris continued: “Paving is equipment intensive. By helping contractors stick to preventive maintenance intervals and manage repairs efficiently, maintenance management software delivers significant cost-saving and uptime advantages. Contractors optimizing a maintenance management application frequently cut maintenance costs to below five percent of revenue while achieving uptime rates above ninety five percent.”
Taking the broad view of an asphalt paving business, it is difficult to see any aspect that couldn’t benefit from the right software.

“All aspects of a company’s business should benefit from software,” stated Jared Hislop, co-founder/owner, Bitumio Asphalt Paving Software, Garden City, Utah. “All areas of a business are interconnected. A won proposal turns into a job. That job needs to be scheduled. The schedule needs to go to a crew who need to know what was included in the proposal. The job needs to be tracked and job costed to better inform your proposals. All of these areas are interconnected and should all benefit one another.”

The beauty of software is that it can be accessed anywhere needed through multiple devices.

“Access should match the requirements of specific users for specific applications,” Norris said. “Executives, dispatchers and shop managers, for example, may typically work in the office and access performance tracking, scheduling or maintenance software on desktops. Foremen, mechanics and others in the field may rely on ipads, smart phones, and other mobile devices to access the various functions of the same applications.”

The demand for instant information has become a given in today’s world.

“In today’s on-the-go world, a software must be accessible from anywhere,” Hislop said. “Having access in the palm of your hand to: past clients, past estimates, upcoming jobs, or details about the current in-progress job is a critical aspect to run a business smoothly and streamline the sales and operations of the business.”

Old school contractors clutching their trusty, go-to notebooks might pshaw computers as unnecessary and not secure.

“Security in software is table stakes for any legitimate provider,” Hislop said. “Securing all of your company’s and customer’s information should be the highest priority for any software provider.”

“I’ll compare the security of software to more antiquated approaches by using a notebook and safe example. A notebook sits in your truck or in your office. Most people know what it looks like and where it is most likely to be. When they see it, they can freely open it and view the contents inside. With software that same notebook is put into a safe and locked. Only you know the password to the safe. However, the location of that safe is unknown, even to you. You also do not know the model of the safe and the locking mechanism. So not only do you have to know where the safe exists (the internet is a vast world) but you also have to know what model of safe and the locking mechanism to attempt to break-in.”

Hislop continued, “Additionally, what happens when you lose or ruin that notebook. It’s gone. With software, your information is securely backed up multiple times. Meaning, it is always available anytime, anywhere without the risk of having to start over one day.“

Technology eliminates lag time. Plus, getting any paper document intact from the field to the office is a chronic challenge in the paving sector.

Norris offered the following conclusion: “Connectivity is critical. Individual software applications can help paving contractors improve efficiency and performance within discrete workflows. As the industry deploys more and more technology, getting these applications to communicate with each other and share data in real time will be a key to even more profound advantages in efficiency, collaboration and data-driven decision making.”

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