Wouldn't it be great to go paperless during construction? Ask HaulHub CEO Joe Spinelli
Updated: Oct 25, 2021
In 2015, Joe Spinelli was processing invoices in the office at his construction company, when he came across an unpaid $1,000 invoice from a trucker he had used for a job over a year ago. The project was long completed. The books were closed. Of course, he paid it, but everyone in the office had a bit of a chuckle at how absurd, but not wholly uncommon, it is for something like this to happen.
Fast forward to today. Construction companies across the globe are still relying on paper timesheet, shipping, project, and tracking records. The problem is, while the way the industry does business is slow to evolve, the world of construction is rapidly changing.
Over the past year, due to COVID-19, input costs to nonresidential buildings are up by about 3.5% to 4.5% with the final cost of construction up by 1% to 2%. This, coupled with unpredictable supply chains – the largest drop in U.S. manufacturing output since 1946 – and an acute labor shortage have made securing enough jobs to sustain a business difficult.
But if projections are correct, in 2021, we could see the market flooded with projects that were shelved due to COVID-19. This means more jobs for everyone. That’s good, right? Of course, it is. But when you consider the fact that the past year saw many construction companies decrease their staff, it’s going to be a challenge for companies to hit the ground running when and if jobs start to flood the market.
So, what does all of this have to do with Joe Spinelli? Let’s take a second to go back to that office. After everyone had a good laugh, they started wondering, “When is this going to get any better?” They recognized the need for new technology in the construction industry. Much like customer relationship management was revolutionized by Salesforce, the construction industry needed a way to better track project movements.
Not seeing anything available, Spinelli did it himself. He built a very simple text workflow that allowed him to reach out directly to truckers with job offers and then communicate with them throughout the duration of the project without involving a single sheet of paper. As most great technologies do, this system evolved when people in the company started asking, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could do this too?”
Namely, wouldn’t it be great if we could hire the exact piece of equipment we need for each job without the overhead costs and headache of owning and maintaining our own fleet? Owning a dump truck is expensive and the return is low. With a truck comes a driver. With a driver comes insurance and liability.
But what if you need a truck and aren’t willing or able to buy one? In 2015, you called a broker who would find a truck and driver for you. The guy on the other end of the line wrote your information down on a piece of paper and, if you were lucky, a truck showed up on the job site when you needed it.
This problem was not unique to Joe. Friends in the business were commiserating. Everyone wanted a solution. The solution came in the first iteration of HaulHub’s e-Ticketing software. The text process that was employed in a small office laid the groundwork for digital fleet management that was efficient and trackable from start to finish.
Six years after the inception of this platform, e-ticketing has nearly done away with the need for paper records. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has actually pushed many state DOTs to even refuse paper tickets to help slow the spread of the virus. E-ticketing solutions offer many benefits:
Fewer human errors
Real-time project tracking
Proof of delivery
COVID-19 restrictions drove many state DOTs to pursue e-Ticketing-like technologies to keep people at a safe distance during the pandemic, but highlighted the work zone safety benefits to protect workers from hazards that have always existed and can be mitigated more effectively.
Tight margins are even tighter than before the pandemic, and if we want to get our country back to work and do so cost-effectively, the time for digital construction technology is now.