Providing Visibility at Swinerton Renewable Energy

Driving from San Jose, CA out to Swinerton's latest 200 megawatts Solar Farm in Los Banos it doesn't seem like an ideal place for a solar installation. Of course, once the team at Swinerton Renewable Energy got there, that all changed.

The Problem with Site Visibility

Transforming 2,700 acres into an energy-generating complex with enough juice to power over 100,000 homes in San Mateo County is no small task. Around 400 workers, dozens of subcontractors and thousands of man-hours were required. To get it done three companies came together: Peninsula Clean Energy, Clenera, and Swinerton Renewable Energy. From beginning to end, the estimated cost is ~$6 million and of course, with such a huge project, there were plenty of stakeholders that wanted to know what was happening on site. Keeping all of these companies informed about important progress milestones used to be an enormous task.

That's what Victor "Tito" Gonzalez said when we asked him how reporting from the field used to be done. "Depending on how busy we were it could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour just to try and log everything down and transfer all the information down on paper," says Tito, "But now with Raken, it's fast, simple, and quick." Between gathering the various reports, trying to figure out what was written, logging it into an Excel spreadsheet and then making sure that everyone gets it who was supposed to, the entire process of daily reporting and keeping everyone in the loop was a huge time-drain for Swinerton.

Depending on how busy we were it could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour just to try and log everything down and transfer all the information down on paper.

— Tito Gonzalez

That's Where Raken Comes In

According to Tito, "I use Raken on a day-to-day basis to keep folks like the owners updated about what we've got going on. Also our team, even back home in the office, they can see what we've got going on. We'll take pictures and show off our work because we do take pride in it." And the work Tito and his team are doing out in Los Banos is worth showing off. Between installing brand new technology and transforming a swath of land into a clean-energy producing complex, they've pioneered new techniques while staying on schedule and not going over budget.

Pen and paper, quite simply, couldn't tell the entire story of what they were doing out there.

We'll take pictures and show off our work because we do take pride in it.

— Tito Gonzalez

Compliance Through Simplicity

Beyond providing a more professional, polished look into field operations, Raken increased reporting compliance among the subcontractors at the Los Banos site. When explaining why, Foreman Ricardo Briseño says, "normally were used to doing it on paper. Raken helps out a lot, just being able to do it in other areas, not just in the office where you have a hard surface to write on," Briseño observes, "It's a simple set up and easy to learn. The first day someone showed me how to fill it in and it was really simple."

With an easier reporting process, more subcontractors on the site are actually turning in their reports on time. Swinerton thought of it this way: Crews in the field will follow the course of least resistance when it comes to filling out their reports. If technology is too complicated then the field will abandon it for something that is easier. By focusing on being user-friendly for the crews in the field, Raken ensures that it's an easier process than pen and paper while providing a more accurate report.

As if making the process easier wasn't enough, Raken has included other safeguards to make sure that the reports get done. "Missing a day is a little more difficult," says Briseño, "it puts a little more pressure on me because they'll be aware, right away if I missed a day and didn't fill it out. Raken sends you the report right away so it helps you out a lot with not forgetting."

It takes not even a minute to go in there and see what we did that day.

— Ricardo Briseño, Foreman

Construction Reports Save Money

What is the benefit of making sure that the daily reports, time cards, manpower figures, and more get completed every day? For Swinerton, it meant increased visibility, saving time, and settling disputes easier. All of which has led to saving money and being more efficient.

For example, Tito recalls "I ran into an issue where we were keeping track and helping out a subcontractor, and on this one, there was money involved," he says, "So we went back to our dailies and we saw that it was documented in there properly. It helped out and we saved some money, which is always good. People don't always remember everything they did and with Raken it's easy to enter it and then go back to it." When done right, construction reporting can be an absolute lifesaver in settling a dispute, as long as your daily reports, time cards, and other field management documents are accurate every day. With complete reports you can go back to and reference, project managers, superintedents and foremen can rest assured knowing they'll have the evidence they need should a dispute arise.

And it's not just Tito and the Swinerton office that feel this way. Gonzalo Gomez, a foreman on the project, relates, "We had a delivery issue where there was no BOL: we were looking for that specific day where we had that delivery and couldn't find it," he says, "So we just looked in Raken, saw that we received 15 trucks that day, and there was our answer: 15 trucks, but the BOL was missing. It's simple as that, you just go back and review your Raken." By keeping up on his Raken, Gomez was able to quickly identify a problem that could have potentially been a huge issue later on.

Visibility in Less Than A Minute

By helping them avoid problems and increase visibility into daily field operations Raken has saved Swinerton time and money. Briseño sums it up when he says, "it definitely helps out if something is going on, or if someone is needing to know what got done during the day, when this got moved or how many people were here during this time," he states, "It helps to go back real quick and see. It takes not even a minute to go in there and see what we did that day." Because Swinerton chose a digital tool for their construction field management they can find the information they need, when they need it, in less than a minute.

Understanding how Swinerton and their teams have transformed the Los Banos site, and knowing how they did it, makes the entire project that much more impressive. As Tito remarks, "It's all in color, right there in your face, and it's all digital. Having Raken on an iPad to show off your work is definitely something good." Tito and his team have certainly done something to be proud of out there in San Mateo County, and we're honored that we could help them show it off.

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