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Construction Projects Enter the Digital Age

Construction, the original brick-and-mortar business, has gone digital. The result is some unusual images on jobsites across North America.

For instance, in San Francisco - where the city is connecting its transit system to its new baseball stadium - construction workers wearing hard hats and overalls can be seen using handheld computing devices.What gives?

BidCom Inc., an Internet start-up, has developed a service it calls in-Site, which digitalizes blueprints, field reports, purchase orders, work permits and other paper-based construction project necessities. BidCom puts the documents on its server, which allows those involved in the project to access them by using a Web browser

BidCom ( charges a monthly fee based on the number of people on a project that use the service. The San Francisco-based company's next step - which should be of particular interest to equipment rental companies - is to add an e-commerce feature that allows for electronic ordering of business supplies. BidCom CEO Daryl Magana told Fortune magazine that his company has assembled a database listing of more than 10,000 suppliers.

"We have the opportunity to become the Web-based operating system for the building industry," Magana said. If his assessment is on target, rental companies that partner with companies such as BidCom will be able to establish virtual satellite stores at every jobsite in their trade area - without having to put up any chain-link fence.

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