PlanGrid 2.0, www.plangrid.com, a cloud-based service available both as an iPad and an iPhone app, is a blueprint viewer that enables users to maintain one master set of blueprints in the cloud (on the web) and publish them to a team, keeping all members in the field up to date. Users store, manage, view and mark up blueprints on an IPad tablet or iPhone.

Team members can push their markups and comments from their own iPad or iPhone to other members in seconds. PlanGird 2.0 also provides a secure cloud based storage platform for uploaded specifications, RFIs, schedules and other types of PDF based construction documents.

The plans are available on the iPad and on the iPhone as selectable icons on a project screen. Users can select among plans by scrolling through this "grid view." Projects cache locally on the iPad or iPhone, so a user can be in the field without connectivity and still have full access to the drawings. 

Once the user selects a drawing to review or notate, the drawing displays full screen, with a menu of editing tools and other actions along the right side. One of the icons is a "share" button that allows the user to e-mail full-size (edited or annotated) PDFs either as a packet that includes photos or as a screen shot embedded in the email. 

Master annotations are automatically synced back to the master set on the cloud, so

all collaborators have access to updated drawings from anywhere.

The app allows users take time- and date-stamped photos and pin (embed) them precisely in a blueprint. Every photo pinned to PlanGrid automatically syncs back and archives to the cloud. PlanGrid records information such as the user who took the photo, the date it was taken and sheet it was pinned to so that team members can sort and filter as needed. 

The software digitally leafs in new drawing sheets without deleting older ones. Review of old versions is possible at any time by navigating among them with a swipe.  

Team members can also post RFIs, create and track punchlists, and instantly share the information with collaborators.

For now, the app is free for up to 50 sheets of storage. Above that, the cost is $19.99 per user for up to 550 sheets storage and $49.99 per user for up to 5,000 sheets of storage per month. Users can add and delete sheets at will as long as the selected limit is not exceeded.

Dispatched by DeFNiC Software, www.dispatchedsoftware.com, is a modular work order and service management solution that enables dispatch of work orders to field personnel using real time communication, GPS, mapping and scheduling. 

Key modules include the core product, Dispatched, and five optional modules:

Dispatched Mobile, Dispatched Accounting, Dispatched GPS, Remote Mobile Dispatcher and Dispatched Barcode.

A dispatcher can manually dispatch a work order (customizable as install orders, service calls, estimates, or service agreements) to any technician or the dispatch board can automatically dispatch a work order to a designated service technician or sales person. Service agreements and preventive maintenance can be set up on a recurring cycle. All work tickets are automatically located on a detailed map, so the dispatcher knows where all the crews are supposed to be.

Dispatched GPS Module features real time positioning of service vehicles. A GPS device is mounted inside the service vehicle and connected to a wireless carrier. GPS data is fed in real time. The module can provide turn by turn directions, in-field maps for technicians on mobile devices, and in-office mapping and includes speeding alarms, unauthorized zone alarms, and historical reporting, which can lead to driver behavior changes that could reduce fuel costs and misconduct.

Dispatched Mobile Module allows for real time two-way communication to and from field technicians armed with any Internet-accessible mobile device. The module also includes capability for customer signature capture and in-field printing or emailing of service tickets or receipts.  

The Dispatched Accounting Module integrates fully with QuickBooks and other accounting packages, enabling contractors to integrate estimates and sales orders into work orders and to use custom price levels for different customers or jobs. In conjunction with the Dispatched Mobile Module, the accounting module gives technicians the ability to total up invoices or estimates in the field.

The Remote Mobile Dispatcher module allows in-the-field scheduling and assigning of work orders. When coupled with the Dispatched Mobile Module, field technicians and sales personnel as well as dispatchers in the office can assign, create, schedule and dispatch work orders. 

Dispatched Barcode Module supports barcoding of inventory, non-inventory, QuickBooks items and equipment. When coupled with the Dispatched Mobile Module, field technicians can scan a computer generated barcode price list.

The Dispatched core module also has asset management features, including the ability of office personnel and field technicians to review installed customer equipment including make, model, serial number, service history and other custom fields.

Bill and Patti Feldman write articles and web content for trade magazines and manufacturers of building products. They can be reached at productpad@yahoo.com