Looking to expand usage of its delivery-tracking program for construction jobsites, software developer Voyage Control is working to overcome its biggest competitor: traditional pen-and-paper records.
“It’s definitely the place we face the most resistance,” says James Swanston, Voyage Control CEO. “Some subcontractors we encounter are a bit old-fashioned, and they prefer to deal with someone at the front gate holding a clipboard and a pen.”
The company’s tracking software is intended to supplant the clipboards and whiteboards that serve to manage materials and equipment deliveries to jobsites. Deliveries can be checked in via a mobile app, and the entire system can be monitored and updated in real time from an online dashboard. Able to integrate with some popular project-management software, the system has been compatible with Procore since 2015.
Originally developed in the U.K. for events planning at convention centers, Voyage Control has been used for asset tracking on several high-profile construction projects in the U.S., including Boston’s Millennium Tower. “The biggest benefits are usually found from the big GCs or CMs who need it for major projects,” says Swanston. “As of right now, Turner Construction is our smallest customer in the U.S.”
Rather than just log when materials come to a site and feed that into a database later on, Voyage Control allows subcontractors to make bookings in the system ahead of time, locking down a delivery slot. Then, this information is updated in real time for the project team, allowing for better management of just-in-time deliveries on sites with limited access. Further, the software can analyze the performance of subs and trades to identify bottlenecks in deliveries.
The company has added license-plate recognition capabilities in Europe and is experimenting with Bluetooth-based asset tracking in the U.S.
But complicated, limited-access jobsites find the most use for the system. The Medical University of South Carolina currently is building the $385-million Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion at its complex in Charleston, S.C. Getting deliveries to the site without disrupting traffic at the medical campus is a top priority for Robins & Morton, one firm on the team of contractors providing CM-at-risk services for the project.
“Voyage Control allowed everyone access to a live schedule,” says Christena Holcombe, project engineer with Robins & Morton on the MUSC site. “Historically, this would have to be managed manually by the superintendents.”
The project sees an average of 10 to 30 deliveries a day, seven days a week, and its location in downtown Charleston means that overscheduling could cause major traffic jams. According to Holcombe, Voyage Control offers more options than other delivery-logging software, including the ability to detect and avoid duplicates and other errors automatically. “[As a result] we work more as a team than individuals,” she says.
Given the limited access, managing the on-site just-in-time deliveries took some planning, but Voyage Control kept things running smoothly, says site superintendent Rusty Bratcher. “As with anything new, there is always initial hesitancy and kickback. But the learning curve for Voyage Control is so short and easy, the value was acknowledged quickly,” he says. “It really does make the process quicker for us and the other team members.”