Sharing construction drawings with your onsite crew is crucial for effective communication and collaboration. 

A typical construction project for a small and medium-sized construction could have anywhere from 100 megabytes to several gigabytes of data. One of the largest and most shared files between employees, contractors, and consultants are drawings, that are generally saved as PDF files.

With a maximum file attachment size limit of 20 MB for Outlook and 25 MB for Gmail, it is a daunting task to share drawings with the on-site crew without using construction management software. Even Construction Management Software has limits on the size of files to be transferred and the mobile data speed determines the transfer time over mobile networks.

Cloud Based Construction Management Software makes it easier to share files using the cloud storage and mobile app. Even if one could share the drawings, their large size makes it difficult to download the files on smartphones or other mobile devices as it could take several minutes to even hours depending upon the download speed.

Cloud server data speed also impacts the download time and any network data interruption will halt the download leading to a restart of the download. Users are always looking for innovative and reliable solutions.

In this blog, we will discuss some of the techniques and tools to share large files on mobile devices. Before we delve into the solutions, let’s first identify the common challenges faced when sharing large construction drawings with the onsite crew. 

Challenges of Sharing Large Construction Drawings

These construction challenges can hinder effective collaboration and impact project timelines. By understanding these challenges, you can better appreciate the importance of implementing the right solutions.

1. File Size: Construction drawings often contain complex designs and detailed information, resulting in large file sizes. Sharing these files can be challenging, especially when traditional methods like email have file size limitations.

2. Version Control: Construction projects involve multiple stakeholders, including architects, engineers, and contractors or subcontractors, who may need to make revisions to the drawings. Ensuring that everyone has access to the latest version and avoiding confusion caused by outdated drawings can be a significant challenge.

3. Accessibility: Onsite crew members need to access construction drawings quickly and easily. If the process is complicated or time-consuming, it can lead to delays and productivity issues.

4. Security: Construction drawings typically contain sensitive and confidential information. Protecting these documents from unauthorized access or leaks is crucial to maintain project integrity and client trust.

Now that we understand the challenges, let’s explore the solutions for sharing large construction drawings effectively.

Microsoft, Google, and AWS are the three big and most popular cloud providers. They all offer cloud storage that can be accessed from desktop and mobile devices seamlessly. We use the example of Microsoft OneDrive Cloud to describe a solution for sharing big files. This will also work for other cloud services such as Google Cloud and AWS.

Microsoft OneDrive to Share Large Construction Files

One must get a Microsoft OneDrive account that costs a couple of dollars per month for 100 GB of storage (OneDrive basic is free but only provides 5 GB of storage space) or one can opt for the Microsoft 365 suite that offers a complete suite of Microsoft’s cloud applications. This includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, Notes, and OneDrive. Each account comes with 1TB of storage and costs about $6 USD per month.

In addition to storage and Microsoft’s popular applications, Office 365 also facilitates team collaboration by providing real-time sharing of documents. When a team member makes an edit, the changes will be visible to other members of the team using the same document. OneDrive also offers version control to retract any previous changes if needed.

As a first step in sharing drawings, it is recommended that, if possible, the size of large files should be reduced using easy steps and available tools:

1: Optimize File for Sharing

Create a version of the file for sharing by removing the unwanted data from the file using a PDF editor or other software already used by the team. Keep only the data that is needed by your team on the site. This will reduce the file size and speed up access to many folds.

2. Compress the PDF drawings.

Depending on the data in a file, a PDF file can be reduced up to 80% in size in many cases making the transfer five times faster. There are many PDF compression tools available in the market and some are free of charge.

3. Divide Large Drawings

For large drawings, slice the PDF file into smaller files as everyone does not need the complete document. This will need a bit of time, but it will save time and many folds for the team members in accessing files on site.

Once the Microsoft account is created, users can log in to the account and access the OneDrive. This can be done from a desktop, laptop, or tablet.

Accessing OneDrive is similar to accessing the local drive on a computer. This includes the creation of a directory structure and adding files to the folders. A user will move the files that need to be shared with the team by dragging and dropping them from the desktop to the desired OneDrive folder.

Team members in the field will download a mobile app for OneDrive that is specific to their device (e.g., iOS or Android) and log into OneDrive using the OneDrive or Office 365 credentials. They will then be able to access all the files in the OneDrive on-site.

Now that you have a comprehensive understanding of the challenges, solutions, and best practices, you are well-equipped to share large construction drawings with your onsite crew effectively.

There are few Constructions Management Software that allows complete access to data and system features in the field using tablets such as MS Surface Pro with mobile data access. This eliminates the need for a file transfer as users can open files anywhere with mobile data access. Most files can be also downloaded on the hard drive from the construction management system with a fast Wi-Fi link before leaving for a site and access to newly modified files on site.

Boost Your Productivity with 123worx – Cloud Based Construction Software

123worx is one of the best construction management software that offers sharing large construction drawings with your onsite crew along with many other features to make project management seamless. 

By implementing these best practices for file organization, version control, and security, you can streamline the sharing process and enhance collaboration. Now, it’s time to say goodbye to the frustrations of outdated sharing methods and welcome a new era of efficiency.

Empower your construction project management team members — contact us today to learn more. Feel free to contact me for details. Your inquiries are important, and we’re here to assist you.