Volume 48, Issue 9- September 2013


Are Contract Glaziers Ready for the Cloud?

OWhen the Rolling Stones proclaimed, “Hey you, get off of my cloud,” in 1965 little did they know that nearly 50 years later everyone would pretty much be headed straight in that direction: to the cloud. From music to movies, one of the perks of cloud programs is that you can access your files anytime, anywhere. Now these programs are making their way into the construction industry, providing contract glaziers the ability to access their working files and documents without being bound to the computer on which they are stored. Still a new concept for many companies, others are beginning to embrace the technology and the benefits it can provide.

Minneapolis-based Harmon Inc. is just one contract glazier that has begun exploring cloud programming. According to marketing manager Thyra Nelson, the company is early on in its use of several cloud-based programs. It is using the cloud to transfer drawings and other files among customers and project site locations. She says Harmon is trialing several different systems, both internal and external, but hasn’t made a final decision.

“We are using the tools across all company functional area operations, sales and engineering,” says Nelson. The benefits include the ability to share files without being connected to a common network.

Of course, the process has not been without challenges. And for a company just getting started with the cloud, such as Harmon, it can be tough to find the program that will work best.

“There are many solutions available,” says Nelson. “Choosing the [right] solution is difficult.” She adds, though, “Once the selection process is complete, implementation is fairly quick and the systems are user friendly and easy to use, which makes training less burdensome.”

Enclos, also in the Minneapolis area, is another firm that has worked with cloud programs. In fact, Mic Patterson, director of strategic development, says his company has engaged with cloud computing on various levels for some time.

“It’s getting hard not to; without even trying you will find yourself engaging the cloud in the near future,” he says. “Our current applications are modest but evolving rapidly, and they range from simple software subscriptions and file sharing, to project design and operations management.”

As for the benefits, Patterson says these include “easy access to the most current data and an increased assurance that all parties are working with the same documents.

“The challenges relate to information and process management, and there is some concern with data security, and potentially, data integrity,” he adds.

As promising as the cloud may be in terms of helping companies streamline their operations, not all contract glaziers are on board.

“We tend to keep our project management software, as well as our back office systems, off of the cloud,” says Howard Haber, managing partner with W&W Glass LLC in Nanuet, N.Y. “We manage both in house. We strictly use the cloud in the background for real-time data backup and disaster recovery.”

He adds, “Having experienced cloud project management on the general contractor side, I was neither impressed nor did I feel it would make us more efficient or secure.”


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