An app designed to automate sharing and version control of construction documents has added a new functionality and now can capture issues and generate, circulate and post requests for information (RFI) within the same application.
The PlanGrid tool is a cloud server-based system that stores and manages project documents for access by tablets on the jobsite. It is used as a collaborative platform for sharing information, such as field markups, progress photos and punch lists, between the office and field. When a plan is updated on the server, it updates for all users.
The app initially was developed for iPads, and it is still most robust on those devices, although an Android version is now available. At the basic level, the viewer app is free. Increased functionality and higher document storage capacity are available with tiered pricing.
With the new feature, PlanGrid RFIs, issues identified in the field can be flagged to the relevant area of the plans. Users can generate snapshots from their plans that automatically synchronize to the cloud and all users for easy RFI referencing. Photos and notes made in the field can be attached, and users also can reference and link to photos and documents already within their cloud storage. Then, an RFI can be composed and dispatched to the appropriate parties by email, all within the software.
RFI routing is customizable to the project. Responses are tracked, and actions are viewable through the RFI log. The form also includes a comment field, which is not a part of the formal RFI, that can be used to facilitate communication about the issue. Filters in the log enable quick access and tracking. The system records changes, and all edits are viewable in the RFI history.
When addressed, answers can be posted directly to blueprints stored in the system and published to the whole team at once, potentially cutting the RFI turn-around time to a few hours.
The company says PlanGrid now is being used on more than 90,000 construction projects. Its servers now store more than nine million pages of plans.
Recent research by the Navigant Construction Forum, which examined the impact of RFIs on more than 1,300 projects between 2001 and 2012, found that, in the U.S., the average turnaround for RFIs was eight days—but one out of four never even received a reply.
PlanGrid's tiered monthly prices range from free for up to 50 documents, $20 for 550, and $100 for unlimited storage.