Editor’s note: This is Part II of a two-part series of articles based on presentations from the 2014 Concrete Polishing Luncheon and Forum that took place at World of Concrete in Las Vegas. This year’s theme was “No good deed should go unpaid: How to set accurate bids, and get paid for work that wasn’t in the contract documents.” To watch individual speaker presentations, check out our Video page.

Harry Gressette, owner of Ardor Solutions in Goose Creek, S.C., has tough questions for polishing contractors who aren’t monitoring and documenting what their crews and machines are doing on jobsites every day: “How can you make project planning decisions without having the data in front of you to make those decisions? And if you’re not doing daily reports, how do you know—when you’re sitting in the office—what your client is actually getting?”

By tracking jobsite data in real time, contractors can analyze production and manage expenses daily instead of waiting until after a job is completed and the bills are coming in. For example, Gressette says, “The job calls for 20 gallons of densifier, but how much did we really put down? I don’t want to wait until the truck gets back and I put it back in inventory to find out. I want to job-cost it right now.”

The information collected also provides a clear picture of what each job task requires in terms of manpower, equipment, and costs. This helps take the guesswork out of estimating when bidding future projects.

Trading paper for tablets

Ardor Solutions uses an electronic data collection system that starts with the estimate and bid. Using an iPad tablet computer and a customizable business form app, the estimator inputs projected tasks with time allotments, manpower needed, and costs. A color-coded screenshot of the estimate gives the foreman and crew an image of the project, tasks to be completed, and what was bid. While on the job, crew members also use a tablet to fill out a daily time card, which is broken out by tasks performed.

“Our time sheets are different from clock-in, clock-out,” Gressette explains. “Each column is a task. The employee times his own task and measures it. The foreman verifies it, and tracks the overall job.”

If an employee goes over the estimated task time, there are opportunities in the field report in which it’s packaged to explain why.

Free digital field reports

The time sheets are part of a 15-page digital field report that’s filled out and emailed to the home office at the end of each day. Although 15 pages may seem like a lot, Gressette says the report is simple to fill out, and the technology is easy to use. He uses the FormConnect business app (www.formconnections.com), which allows users to customize business forms and use iPads like they would notepads or clipboards. Anybody with an iPad can download the free app via the Apple store.

The field report is a series of multiple choice, drop-down lists that are used to input everything from drive times and mileage to floor conditions and tasks completed (including square footage, diamonds used, and passes made) to equipment and materials used. Also included are daily gloss and texture readings.

To ensure they are producing quality, long-term floors, crew members use surface texture meters, DIO (distinction of image) meters, and gloss meters—in that order. Gloss measurements are taken before putting down any type of guard because, says Gressette, “I’m only interested in what the diamonds produced.” To measure the microtexture of a surface, “We scratch every grit, every pass, that we’re running. From what we’ve seen, anything under a 10 is good.”

Photos are a must in the field report. Each day the crew is required to take four photos of the project site before beginning work, and four photos of the cleaned site at the end of the day. Any problem areas are documented with images. This is done with the iPad’s camera and attached to the appropriate section of the report. Comment boxes are included.

The foreman includes a description of the next day’s work plan, and materials needed. If any equipment repairs are needed, there’s a page to include the equipment number, describe the problem, and upload a photo to illustrate.

Because time sheets are attached to the report, employees must fill them out if they want to get paid. When the project is completed, the foreman has the superintendent or owner sign the job completion page. In addition to signature capture, the FormConnect app automatically takes a picture of the signer.