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Robert John O’Brien is an Associate at Cohen Seglias and a member of the Construction Group. He focuses his practice on complex commercial and construction litigation.

Robert is a regular contributor to the Firm’s newsletter, Construction in Brief, as well as the Firm’s construction blog, Construction Law Now. He has also lectured on several legal subjects, including construction contract provisions and construction claims.

In a previous post, we wrote about drones (which are more formally referred to as “unmanned aircraft systems” or UAS), as well as the nascent federal and state statutory and regulatory framework.

Since our last article, drone use – as predicted – has grown more prevalent throughout the U.S. commercial marketplace and especially the construction industry. Last year, an estimated 2.5 million drones were sold in the United States, and approximately 670,000 drones were registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) during the same time period. Continue Reading Still “Up in the Air”: More Drones and More Regulations

Unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly referred to as “drones,” are appearing more frequently in the skies over construction project sites.

Drones  typically operate from a handheld device, such as an iPhone, and can be connected to a Wi-Fi network. The physical design utilizes four to eight rotary blades, which allow for fluid vertical movement and aerial stability. Such stability—the ability to hover in place for an extended period of time—can prove particularly beneficial for surveying a job site. Drones can be used to capture images of the work from above and then transmit the information to one of a number of mapping software programs, which are, in turn, used to analyze and monitor all phases of a project, from site preparation to completion.

Drones also are proving to be a valuable marketing tool, by allowing for aerial footage or video of job sites, which can be shown to clients and potential clients. In the near future, drones may be used for physical transportation of equipment and project materials. Indeed, multinationals, including Amazon and Google, have famously begun discussing the use of drones to transport and deliver goods to their customers.

Drone technology possesses the potential to fundamentally change the construction industry.

Continue Reading Up in the Air: Drones and the Future of the Construction Job Site

Loyal readers will recall our previous discussion regarding the prevalence of tablets and iPads on construction project sites.  As the industry becomes increasingly connected, user-friendly apps for mobile devices are changing the way contractors perform their work on a daily basis.

Apps, which can often be found for free, are available for a wide range of industry-related uses, including apps for building codes, conversion tables, and equipment selection, among others.  As more apps are developed, contractors are relying less on hard copy drawings, reference manuals, and charts, as in years past. Indeed, mobile device apps are the tech-savvy contractor’s best avenue to improved project efficiency.  The ability to check specifications and compare products and pricing from a smartphone or tablet will drive further use of mobile devices at the jobsite, as well as app development.  Cutting-edge apps presently receiving attention in the construction industry include thapps.jpge following:

Copper Tube Handbook: the Copper Development Association (CDA) has converted its Copper Tube Handbook into an app that can be downloaded (at no cost) directly onto an iPhone or iPad.  Contractors, plumbers, and HVAC technicians working with copper tube and piping or seeking to reference specifications or installation instructions may quickly and efficiently access this information directly from the field.

Map Mobile: Bentley Systems (of Exton, PA) has developed an app, which recently received rave reviews after being beta tested by the Philadelphia Department of Water.  The app, which runs on the Android operating system, shares geospatial information and allows engineers fast and easy access to subsurface infrastructure data.  Previously, engineers were often forced to sift through hundreds of pages of paper maps at site locations in order to track down the pertinent information.

In addition, Construction Informer Blog recently posted information about five other new apps that are helping to increase project efficiency.  These apps include iBlueprint, which allows users to create and export custom blueprints on their tablets or smartphones.  Another app, called SmartBidNet, is a bid management tool that allows contractors to track bid and project information, interactions with subcontractors and vendors, and the amount/status/due date of incoming materials and supplies.

Today’s cost conscious clients have high expectations and are demanding the efficiency that comes from digital devices and mobile apps.  Accordingly, forward-thinking contractors would be well-advised to incorporate these important tools into their business plans as soon as possible.

Jennifer M. Horn is Senior Counsel at Cohen Seglias and a member of the Construction Group. She concentrates her practice in the areas of construction litigation and real estate.

Robert O’Brien is an Associate with Cohen Seglias and is a member of the Construction Group.