Easier Communications with Zinc
Contractors are finding that sending and receiving messages through Zinc — a full-featured, secure mobile messaging platform — helps connect workers inside and outside the office and archive that correspondence for future reference.
"Zinc is a way to increase communication and efficiency between workers on the job," says Stacey Epstein, CEO of Zinc in San Francisco. "The other feature is security and compliance, not found with texting or a consumer app."
Pepper Construction Co. of Indianapolis, a member of AGC of Indiana, began using Zinc over a year ago on a $120-million project; a 1-million-sq-ft industrial expansion that straddles a highway. The plant remained operational during construction. "It provides us a way to bridge barriers and be able to communicate with everyone that needs to know information and ensure the message that is sent is the message that is heard," says Dave Murphy, safety director for Pepper. "We’ve been very successful in using it to communicate among different work groups. It’s been a breakthrough for us and a big help."
Pepper uses Zinc to alert team members and tradespeople about safety and on-site issues, such as severe weather approaching the site or an emergency shutdown of part of the site. The platform is designed to broadcast specific messages to targeted audiences instantly and securely. Users must acknowledge they received the message, before they are able to use their smartphones for any other calls or messages. Zinc also provides a report of who received and acknowledged the message, which helps with safety planning and daily reporting.
"Zinc does a fabulous job automating the flow of communication," Murphy says. "It has a significant value for us. It’s a powerful tool."
One of the key advantages, Murphy says, is that everyone automatically receives the announcement, even trade workers. This eliminates the time normally spent addressing emails and verifying the right person receives each notice.
The project team also uses it to recognize people for the prior day’s contributions. Team members use Zinc to keep everyone informed about any issues that might have developed the day before and the corrective action that was taken, so they can use it as a learning opportunity.
"We are seeing real results at the jobsite with the much-improved communication and follow-up process," Murphy says.
Zinc will send the exact location someone is communicating from, so others will know where on a project attention is needed. Users also can share videos, plans, schedules and photographs in real time or connect by telephone or video calling. Up to 1,000 people can participate on a video call. Information can be uploaded to Dropbox or other file-sharing systems.
Zinc works on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. It costs $10 per user per month, including implementation and administrative features. The price decreases as volume goes up. Zinc features military-grade encryption and allows administrators to control security features and who has access to what information. Subscribers can set up the system with official groups for different projects, such as consultants, owners and trade partners. Managers can download an archive file of every message that took place.
"It’s simple to understand," Epstein says. "The impact organizations can achieve from this is significant: better communication, security and compliance. It leads to more efficient and safer jobsites."
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