The Role of Technology at Southern Site

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At Southern Site Contractors, we have experienced firsthand how much the latest technology can streamline our operations. Our integration of technology starts in the field, where our usage of GPS in our dozers and trackhoes allows us to be more efficient, while also improving our performance.

Previously, we only had GPS in our dozers. We would have the dozers run along the initial cut, while a trackhoe followed it. Now that we have GPS in the trackhoes too, we don’t even need that level of babysitting anymore. When you compare it to the old method of using grade stakes, it’s unbelievable how much time and effort we’re saving these days thanks to the GPS.

GPS also helps make our work more reliable in the field. We’re within two-tenths of an inch, every time, no matter what. For most projects, we can get that down to one-tenth, or even half a tenth. Even if a job has a one-tenth tolerance, we’re going to hit that every time. It’ll be nearly perfect. With GPS, there’s never really a question of whether we’re grading within tolerance anymore.

In addition to GPS, our foremen and supervisors have iPads that they can use to document progress on any given job. They also use those iPads to figure out all sorts of issues on the fly. For example, they can determine what kind of risers we need for a manhole. Within moments, they know the right size of riser to put that manhole stack perfectly on grade, which is a process that used to be much more complicated.

We also recently started increasing our investment in software, and we’re already seeing the benefits of that decision. Previously, we would use Excel spreadsheets for estimating, which required a ton of effort for our estimators. Now, we’ve implemented HCSS HeavyBid, which has significantly streamlined the entire estimating process.

With HeavyBid, we can put every single little thing we need to do a job into our estimate, right down to the nuts and bolts we’ll use. And the accuracy is incredible — we’re able to get within a few dollars of our actual costs with every estimate. It’s getting to the point where we’ll barely have to do takeoffs anymore.

We’re also about to start using another HCSS product — Equipment360, which will track any issues we have with our equipment. With these programs exchanging information with each other, we’ll be able to go straight from the bid all the way through the finished project, accurately documenting every step of the process.

Technology will never replace the expertise and experience of our people in the field, or in the office. However, by intelligently implementing technology in the right ways, we can help our employees be as efficient as possible, in an industry where time truly is money.