Mobile Technology Positively Impacts Manufacturing, Construction

Decision makers are using mobile apps most commonly for keeping contacts organized, keeping task lists and assigning tasks to specific employees.

The vast majority of decision makers at construction, manufacturing and distribution firms believe that mobile technology is positively affecting their productivity, according to a survey by business management software and services specialist Sage North America.

The survey of 249 construction firms indicated they are using mobile devices to access company information while on the job site and to reduce travel and energy costs. Mobile-device usage has increasingly enabled the ability for construction workers to provide instant reporting while at the job site, allows decisions to be made while at the job site, ultimately cutting down on costly and time-consuming errors, the report said.

"The construction industry particularly benefits from mobile devices, which, for example, can eliminate the need to haul bulky sets of plans and 4-inch-thick books of project specifications to the job site," Joe Langner, executive vice president of Sage North America, said in a statement. "According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 48,000 construction jobs were added during the month of February. And, as the industry continues to grow and recover, mobile devices can certainly play a significant role in effectively helping construction businesses."

The most common devices used in the construction industry to access work-related information were smartphones (77 percent) and notebooks (72 percent). Surprisingly, tablets were less likely to be used remotely (26 percent). Overall, more than 75 percent of respondents, which included both decision makers and employees, have used a mobile device to access work-related information.

Among the 217 small and midsize manufacturing and distribution firms in the United States and Canada, smartphones (78 percent) and tablets (63 percent) have especially increased in their use for remote access to business information, followed by notebooks at 41 percent. Respondents said remote access has made it easier for a sales representative within a manufacturing or distribution firm to get company information while in the field interfacing with clients, and found mobile devices decreased organizational time for sales reps and clerical staff.

The survey also found that decision makers are using mobile applications most commonly for keeping contacts organized (32 percent), keeping task lists and assigning tasks to a specific employee (20 percent), scheduling (30 percent) and staying updated with project statuses (18 percent). Mobile applications are rarely used for managing the accounting or for creating customer invoices. These are commonly done with desktop software applications (usually accounting or ERP software).

"Over 14,000 manufacturing and distribution jobs were added to the economy in February. As this sector continues to grow, there’s great opportunity for mobile devices to contribute to business growth, and the Sage mobile device survey shows this," Langner said. "Mobile business applications enable seamless integration between the production plant and the office, eliminating potential bottlenecks between departments."