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How Tablet Computers Changed the Construction Industry

July 3, 2016, 1:30 PM UTC
Photograph by Patrick James Miller

Robert Kipp’s must-have tool when he steps onto a construction site isn’t a walkie-talkie or a hard hat, though you’ll never spot him without them. It’s an eight-inch Apple iPad Mini on which he stores blueprints, field documentation, and other relevant information.

“Carrying blueprints under your arm while climbing up a ladder at a dangerous, high-story construction site just wasn’t practical,” says Kipp, 36, a supervisor and project manager for construction giant Tutor Perini.

At a site like the -17-million-square-foot Hudson Yards project in Manhattan—Kipp’s latest assignment and the largest private real estate development in the history of the U.S.—paper is quickly disappearing. The former U.S. Army captain is just fine with that. “It minimizes errors in construction because you can see the documents clearly,” he says.

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On his silver tablet computer Kipp has installed Plangrid, software that helps architects and construction managers collaborate on different versions of the same document in the cloud. Kipp and his team also use the software to keep on hand the 300 permits needed for the job, not to mention the 13,780 sheets of blueprints. Another piece of software, the Autodesk-made modeling app Revit, allows Kipp to visualize in three dimensions the buildings he’s constructing.

Not all of Kipp’s colleagues have been quick to welcome iPads to the work site. One foreman Kipp worked with called tablets “bullshit” and requested paper versions of blueprints instead. But he soon relented, and today the foreman swears by an iPad Pro.

The construction industry has not been at the forefront of technology adoption, Kipp says. No longer. “Construction is filled with inefficiencies,” Kipp says. “Technology can change that.”

This article is part of the Future of Work article from Fortune’s July 1, 2016 issue. Click here to see the entire package.