Run multiple print jobs on all network printers

If you find juggling the printing of multiple project plans and change orders for bidding and RFPs and other distribution a hassle, here is a program that might help streamline output. PrintWeasel print management software (ProExecute, www.proexecute.com, 30-day free trial available) was created specifically to address large-scale construction company printing needs and reduce the time and money spent

If you find juggling the printing of multiple project plans and change orders for bidding and RFPs and other distribution a hassle, here is a program that might help streamline output.

PrintWeasel print management software (ProExecute, www.proexecute.com, 30-day free trial available) was created specifically to address large-scale construction company printing needs and reduce the time and money spent on print jobs for distribution of plans and other documents related to projects.

Benefits of in-house management and control of the print management process include elimination of delays of outsourcing, reduced printing costs, ability to manage the process at the desktop and the ability to employ multiple printers simultaneously.

The 32-bit Windows-based software analyzes various criteria of the file to be printed and load balances the print job against all available network printers. Factors analyzed include size of the file, whether it is black and white or requires color printing and whether the document needs to be printed on a large plotter. The application adds all the necessary watermarks to re-compile a job after printing.

The program works independently of the file's format or source application and with minimal user intervention. With just a few mouse clicks, the solution will automatically open each document (including AutoCAD, Bentley, Photoshop, PDF and TIFF, even if the user doesn't own the application), determine size and characteristics of each file, monitor the availability of each printer on the network, and send each file to the appropriate printer based upon work load and paper size. Output is scalable to different page sizes. All data and activity are stored in a database, which is fully searchable via a full-text search engine.

Users can reprint any edited file without running the whole batch. The solution maintains a database of print jobs and keeps track of multiple versions. PrintWeasel creates an audit trail that can be reviewed at any time.

Though average time savings would vary depending upon the number and the speed of networked printers, the developer estimates that users can expect to reduce their printing time between 40% and 70%, largely attributable to less need for human interaction.

Hold the (mobile) phone

Properly used, location-based mobile workforce management solutions can improve productivity, reduce the cost of field operations and help contractors provide better customer service.

Xora GPS TimeTrack application (www.xora.com) allows contractors to use GPS-enabled mobile phones, rather than laptops or hand-held computers, to track and manage mobile workers. Technicians equipped with the phones, which are much less costly to supply across the board than alternative hardware, can easily record time-sheet and job-status information, including when they begin and end shifts and projects and when they take breaks. Plumbing and HVAC contractors can use the captured real-time data, including when to compensate for overtime, to ensure that field service personnel are paid accurately and that customers are billed appropriately.

Office staff can access this information in real time through Web-based interactive maps and reports detailing the location and activities of the field personnel throughout the day. In addition to monitoring locations and driver speed in real time (perhaps eliminating unnecessary side trips), management and dispatchers can dispatch jobs, and send wireless alerts and driving directions to field personnel.

This on-demand mobile software application features a set-up process that automatically optimizes account settings for new customers for specific industries, including plumbing and HVAC, so that the phone can capture job types and cost codes and record supplies used and customer payment types as well as other settings specific to the industry. Technicians can use attachable bar-code scanners for data capture.

The solution can be set up to automatically trigger start/end times when workers enter or leave designated areas and to automatically send e-mail notification to the office PC if a worker is stopped for too long, speeding, hasn't started or ended a shift or is not tracking.

The phones and the software application support text-messaging sent directly from the office PC, enabling easy two-way communication between field and office.

The GPS TimeTrack basic service (billed monthly per user) contains employee time, location and job/work order modules. Xora offers upgrade services that support:

Work site and route-monitoring using geo-fencing;

Camera capability for taking photos in the field linked to specific jobs for visual confirmation that materials have been delivered or service completed;

Ability to find and dispatch the nearest worker; and Bar-code scanning by technicians carrying attachable bar-code scanners, providing error-free data capture of information that can be downloaded for use in payroll, inventory, job management and other systems.

Other add-ons include audible and visual turn-by-turn driving directions; intelligent routing based on type of vehicle the technician is driving; ability to re -route if the driver misses a turn; and ability of field personnel to quickly trigger a location-stamped Advanced Alert that notifies office personnel of the need for urgent assistance. Management can also take advantage of overtime and work shift controls to control payroll expenses with overtime limits.