Cianbro is one of the largest and most diverse open-shop construction and construction management services companies in the U.S. The organization currently operates in more than 40 states and 12 markets, and also employs nearly 4,000 people. In operation for more than 65 years, Cianbro has developed a reputation in the industry for completing projects safely, on schedule and on budget.
Upholding that reputation requires Cianbro to operate efficiently, which prompted the company to implement new Equipment Management software. However, as the firm mapped out the implementation of the EMS system, significant gaps in the product’s capabilities were evident—particularly around the warehouse mobility solution.
Cianbro employees use a wide array of equipment, tools and consumables to do their jobs. The new EMS solution came with a barcode-based inventory management system for keeping track of these tools as they are moved from the warehouse to the jobsite. While this feature worked well for some equipment, it didn’t for some bulk items, such as concrete forms. Cianbro would have to print binders full of barcodes to handle these bulk items, forcing employees to manually flip through the book and scan the page to receive items back from jobsites.
The binder was not an elegant solution and didn’t sit well with Cianbro. “After years of experience, we’ve learned that awkward processes lead to rogue solutions, and employee workarounds can result in even more errors,” said Greg Wiers, Application Development Manager at Cianbro. “That was unacceptable.”
With the third quarter implementation deadline looming, Cianbro needed a new approach for receiving bulk items, and the organization needed to find it quickly. The company mulled over a couple of different options, including native iOS and Objective-C development, before turning to Telerik® Platform by Progress.
“We wanted to be able to handle multiple devices, while still utilizing a skillset that our development team already possessed, and Telerik gives us that,” Wiers added. Having used Telerik solutions for 12 years to deal with .NET development challenges, using Telerik Platform to design and deploy a mobile barcode application was an easy choice.
Unlike other solutions, Telerik Platform enabled Cianbro to vastly decrease the time spent in development, even though the barcode application was the company’s first project using the framework. “If we look at something like Objective-C and try to go through straight native development, it doesn’t just require learning a new language,” Wiers explained. “You’re learning a new toolset as well, which increases the amount of development time needed to get up to speed on the technology.”
After just a couple months in development, Cianbro was able to create a mobile application that enabled users to quickly look up barcodes from the palms of their hands instead of having to page through entire binders. With the app in tow, workers can simply enter the item name and search for it from their mobile device. The app then presents employees a barcode they can use with the EMS scanner and an image of the product so they know they’re scanning the correct item.
“Telerik Platform has provided flexibility and productivity in our development process, while keeping support costs low,” said Wiers. “It will allow us to produce scalable mobile applications to improve the business productivity with a modern user experience.
The barcode catalog development process went so smoothly that Cianbro opted to use Telerik Platform to rollout other applications. The second solution, an equipment maintenance application, took Cianbro only two weeks to develop. Now that Cianbro’s developers are more familiar with Telerik Platform, Wiers expects even quicker turnaround times in the future.
“We’re likely to see about a 50 percent decrease in development time for mobile applications utilizing Telerik Platform, versus developing directly in native Objective-C development languages,” Wiers said.
Mobility has become increasingly important in the construction sector, with contractors using smartphones, tablets and other portable devices to conduct everything from safety observations to quality checks to financial accounting and reporting. Mobile solutions enable construction companies to improve responsiveness and use data even more intelligently. Whether construction workers are in the field collecting information about pouring concrete or in the yard signing out equipment, apps enable them to record, share and act upon critical data instantly.
Telerik Platform provides Cianbro with the tools necessary to stay ahead of the mobility curve, enabling the company to quickly design and deploy intuitive apps for any obstacles it may encounter.
“Being able to get new mobile apps through development and out into the field as quickly as possible is important to our success,” said Wiers. “After all, Cianbro’s reputation was built on the back of its ability to finish projects on time, on budget and safely. Using Telerik Platform to improve processes is going to give us better accuracy and more efficiency in everything that we do.”