William and Patti Feldman cover three software applications for use in mechanical contracting
Taking advantage of GPS and biometric technologies, SHARCC Time and Attendance, www.ueven.com, is a remote field service time clock solution that uses GPS coordinates to verify that a registered employee is on the job by requiring his or her biometric finger identification to clock into a customizable task or phase. The employee must be in the job GPS coordinates to use the application.
The real-time data on employee hours saves time and improves accuracy on payroll functions compared to traditional manual data entry. Employees use finger ID scanning to clock in and out at the jobsite rather than punching in a timecard or flashing a badge. A crew leader has the ability to request time changes/additions for cases where an employee has to leave early. The software can also track equipment and materials.
Another program from the same developer, SHARCC Atrack, can be used in conjunction with Time and Attendance. Accessed and utilized through a Web portal on the Internet from any computer, it affords designated personnel the ability to see in real time what task a crew member is currently performing, the number of hours at that task and the driving route to jobs. The application can provide speed warning reports and other historical tracking reports. The real-time location information can also be used to dispatch the closest vehicle to a job-in-waiting.
Bluebeam PDF Revu, www.bluebeam.com, is a complete PDF solution for creating and viewing PDF files, plus, it is a markup and editing tool, providing a quick and easy way to review and annotate PDF files. It includes special functionalities for Tablet PC users.
Users copy and paste between Revu and Windows tablet applications (Journal and OneNote), inserting pages with a single tap of the pen.
Markup tools are conveniently located on the right of the main desktop workspace for quick access. The high-resolution Pen and Highlight tools make it easy to comment on a document with freehand text or diagrams. The harder the user presses the pen against the tablet screen, the thicker the line appears. The top of the Pen acts as an electronic eraser.
Bluebeam uses tabbed navigation, facilitating opening and reviewing multiple PDF files simultaneously. Double tapping on the workspace opens the zoom feature and sliding the pen up and down controls the zoom.
Bluebeam is customizable as to views (landscape or portrait), layout, and overall look and feel of the PDFs. PDF editing options include the ability to add blank pages for more work space for comments or diagrams, insert, extract and rotate pages, and copy and paste true text from the PDF into Word and other MS Office files.
A handy "Reuse" feature enables the same annotation to be added to the PDF without reselecting it from the toolbar.
The Tool Chest feature enables users to store custom markups and reapply them later with just a few taps of the tablet pen. In addition, users can also import a number of Bluebeam-created tool sets containing industry-standard symbols. These tool sets, including 11 tool sets of common plumbing and HVAC symbols, are available on Bluebeam’s Resource page, www.bluebeam.com/resources, for no additional cost.
The Free Text markup tool utilizes a tablet input panel on the upper part of the screen when adding free text that takes advantage of text recognition to reproduce the handwritten text, below, into typed text that is text searchable. A delete, backspace, return, and space button facilitate easy editing of the handwritten text.
All annotations placed in a PDF may be rotated by any angle, enabling the annotations to line up with any object in a diagram.
GoPayment, http://mobilepayment.intuit.com, is an expedient easy-to-use mobile payment solution that enables technicians to process payments from most major credit on their mobile phone. It works with Smartphones such as the Blackberry, the iPhone or any mobile phone that has access to the mobile Web.
The service carries a monthly service fee of $19.95 and a one-time set-up fee of $59.95. It can handle up to 50 employees on one account at no additional cost. GoPayment has a discount rate for Visa, MC and Discover of 1.64% for card swiped, 2.44% for key-entered and 3.54% for non-qualified. It carries a per transaction fee of 27 cents.
The process of qualifying and accepting payment from a customer is quick. The user clicks on the GoPayment application on his or her phone and selects "charge" from the menu. The technician then enters the amount, enters the customer’s credit card information into the keypad or swipes the card if carrying the optional Bluetooth card reader. Clicking "charge" processes the transaction. Within seconds the technician gets electronic confirmation on the phone screen (if payment is approved) along with the option to e-mail or text message a receipt to the customer. GoPayment users can access the free Merchant Service Center online 24/7 to view all transactions and search, view and create reports. All the transactions optionally download to QuickBooks Pro and Premiere 2009 or later.
Bill and Patti Feldman are freelance writers for magazines, trade associations, building product manufacturers and other companies on a broad range of topics. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.