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Construction workers swap pen and paper for digital app

Roger Showley, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Home and Consumer News

SAN DIEGO -- At the InterContinental Hotel construction site on the downtown waterfront here, Hensel Phelps field engineer Andrew Coba pulls out his tablet and fires up an app called Raken to note progress on metal framing at the second level.

He can dictate observations, take photos and videos, and email his daily report back to the office in a matter of minutes.

Developed by an area startup, Raken can cut an hour or more off the tedious daily task of monitoring dozens of subcontractors and their crews.

The old method of pen and paper was prone to slipshod recordkeeping that sometimes resulted in overlooked construction mistakes and litigation years later.

"Sometimes it can be a hassle with all that's going on," said Coba, whose responsibility includes working with subcontractors. "They miss days and we have to chase them down (for the information)."

The 25-year-old took quickly to the software, having grown up on video games. But he said it's been relatively easy to convince older construction crews that the new method was worth trying.

He said Hensel Phelps tried out Raken on various jobs around Southern California and encouraged him to try to it out at the InterContinental.

At least a quarter of the construction crews there now use it and, largely, have abandoned pen and paper.

Other companies use different software tools at construction sites, but the Associated General Contractors of America named Raken the top daily reporting software and one of the top five mobile apps for construction a year after it debuted in 2014.

Since then, Raken has been adopted by 2,400 customers with more than 10,000 users in 13 countries.

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