Web-enabled cameras allow project teams to work smarter
CHALLENGE: Enhance oversight of multiple projects while reducing travel
For decades, Walmart has set the benchmark for operational efficiency in the retail industry. Sustainability is also a top priority as they expand their global footprint. Since 2005, Walmart has utilized OxBlue construction cameras to ensure that projects stay on track.
“We have a large number of retail-store and distribution-center projects, often needing to be monitored simultaneously,” said Marty Gilbert, Walmart’s director of renewable-power and energy-efficiency projects. His department manages up to 40 projects in a month, making it critical to have monitoring capabilities – whether remotely or in person – for every project milestone. At any one time, Walmart might have 500 domestic construction projects in the pipeline company-wide, which sets an intense pace for everyone involved.
In addition to the sheer volume of construction projects, the sustainability initiatives overseen by the Walmart energy team often involve highly technical installations with compressed timeframes. “Solar panel installation projects, for example, take place on a roof over 10 to 20 days,” he said.
“A single day without visible verification of job site progress can result in costly mistakes and project delays.” —Marty Gilbert, Director, Walmart Energy Team
SOLUTION: Web-enabled construction cameras give teams 24/7 virtual job site access
Walmart began putting OxBlue construction cameras on their job sites in 2005. Now they are able to monitor projects moment-by-moment, accessing OxBlue’s Web-enabled construction camera interface from their desktops and mobile devices. After looking at a number of camera-based monitoring solutions, Walmart chose OxBlue. “The interface is easy to navigate, and it’s Web-based. I need flexibility, and I get it with the OxBlue system. Today, that flexibility extends to mobile devices. When I’m traveling, I can use my iPhone to easily pull up a project without having to open up a computer. I can pull out my smartphone and know exactly what’s going on everywhere,” Gilbert said. “OxBlue provides technology that non-techies can use, which is important when it comes to ease of deployment to new associates. And the company itself is easy to work with.”
Other divisions within Walmart also use OxBlue cameras, and Gilbert says that over the years, the retail giant has placed OxBlue cameras at a high volume of job sites. His division opts to have OxBlue manage the logistics, shipments, and coordination as part of the service. “OxBlue does all of that for us,” he said.
OxBlue camera systems are designed specifically for construction sites, so they provide the flexible viewing capabilities required for effective project management. “Because I can zoom in and out, I can see details immediately,” Gilbert said. For example, close-up shots allow for detailed inspection of solar equipment installation, while broader views are used to confirm environmental and safety compliance and to monitor workflow.
Gilbert also encourages Walmart’s external contractors to access the cameras. “Archived and real-time camera images enhance team communication and training, both internally and with suppliers,” said Gilbert. “You can always struggle to walk someone blindly through a Gantt chart, but when you can show them photos at the same time, the understanding is better and the learning curve is shorter. You also don’t have to travel together to the site; seeing it on the screen is an efficient and effective management of time,” he explained. “You get back the time that would be spent out of the office. Plus, it saves money. Eliminating the need for just three trips can justify the price.”