Discussion Thread

  • 1.  Site Diaries - Best Practices

    Posted 02-05-2020 07:43 PM
    Hi all,

    For a long time, site diaries have been a thorn in my side, and I'm looking for a way to pluck it out. I'd be grateful if you would share any best practices you've employed to encourage consistent and accurate capture of the day's events.

    I've worked for different contractors in three countries and have yet to see any improvement to, what I argue, is a tedious, inelegant system for capturing crucial information. 

    Note, the site diary templates I've completed were always Microsoft Word documents into which you can type entries, or you can print and complete by hand.

    My two main grievances with this are:
    • It's not mobile.  Carrying paper onsite could get lost or damaged, and the MS word app on my phone is difficult to use.
    • It's tough to form a habit of keeping records throughout the day, most of us haven't.  Often, therefore, my team and I are scratching our heads at the day's end trying to remember the noteworthy events.  We struggle and so don't complete them as competently as we should.
    Has anyone come across or created something better?  I'd appreciate any suggestions.

    Has anyone tried the app Site Diary https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjU_QFu4kgo?  It looks like it could be quite good, but apps I've trialed in the past have failed to sync correctly, and I couldn't trust them.  Has anyone used it with success?

    Thank you very much

    George Lintern Aff.M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer
    Nashville TN

  • 2.  RE: Site Diaries - Best Practices

    Posted 02-06-2020 08:52 AM
    My company has used Fieldwire and SiteWorks (iPhone/iPad only), both of which can be installed on mobile devices for data recording/markups and report editing/publishing in further detail on your computer. The most convenient part about both of these is that after uploading PDF drawings to the app (via web browser) and syncing, you can drop "pins" on the exact locations shown on the drawing and add photos/comments/checklists to the pins. It saves hours of work for each project for not needing to manually import information and doing all the formatting after getting back in the office.

    One former coworker claims that SiteWorks trumps Fieldwire in all ways, but from experience they are pretty similar. Although, Siteworks allows you to snap photos of physical copies of drawings and drop pins directly on them, and has much more visible pins (size-wise) on higher quality final reports (dpi-wise).

    Ellen Chen A.M.ASCE
    Vancouver BC

  • 3.  RE: Site Diaries - Best Practices

    Posted 02-10-2020 12:26 PM

    Hi Ellen!

    Thank you for your response, it's greatly appreciated.  I've looked into these two options and would love a little more information if you can spare the time to provide.

    1. Am I correct saying these options are built for punch lists / snagging?
    2. You mention data recording.  Other than snags, do you collect other forms of data using these tools?
    3. You also mention reports, what kind of reports are you producing?  Are these snag lists or something else?

    Apologies if I wasn't clear but when I mean Site Diaries I am referring to the system used to capture details such as; weather, material deliveries, plant downtime, delays, subcontractor manpower & resource, new instructions/variations.  Do you call this something other than a Site Diary?

    Thank you again

    George Lintern Aff.M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer
    Nashville TN

  • 4.  RE: Site Diaries - Best Practices

    Posted 02-06-2020 11:25 AM

    I created an excel sheet for my inspectors that allows for fairly simple use mobile or otherwise. It has pretty much all of the main points of concern separated into categories so that, for the most part, all of the important things will not go amiss. It also has two click photo changing options and description boxes on the second page, and an optional third page where plans can easily be inserted to highlight which areas were of particular interest or where the bulk of the work was performed for the day.

    Is it ideal? No. Does it work better than the old field diary? Slightly. I find the spreadsheet also can be clunky at times, and for new inspectors or engineers just looking at it for the first time it can be a bit overwhelming. In the near future, ideally, my programmer buddy and I can develop a more robust app for field inspections with a better UI than what is currently offered. The current goal would be to provide an incentive to step away from a pad and pen as the current means of daily record keeping on the project site


    Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson, Inc.
    An Employee-Owned Company
    Brent W Bitsko, EIT
    Project Engineer
    Construction Management
    1200 Lenox Drive, Suite 101
    Trenton, NJ 08648
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    D: 609-791-7951

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  • 5.  RE: Site Diaries - Best Practices

    Posted 02-11-2020 10:43 AM
    The optimal solution to field information depends on your working environment and what kind of data you need to collect. If you are doing some kind of condition assessment, an iPad-based solution may be optimal. On the other hand, if you are a bridge inspector 80 feet in the air over the Mississippi river, portability may be key. The electronic devices which most easily fit in the pocket and take great pictures also have terribly small keyboards, rendering them exceedingly cumbersome for field documentation. Sometimes it is just better to take simple notes on a rain-proof yellow notebook (that fits easily in the pocket), then use that to jog your memory as you sit down to fill out your report at the end of the day.

    It is also important to consider that technology does not always work as expected in harsh conditions - even the "field-tough" versions. It is good to have some kind of backup, even if it is the despised pen-and-paper approach.

    Alexander McCaskill A.M.ASCE
    Geotechnical Engineer
    Kansas City MO

  • 6.  RE: Site Diaries - Best Practices

    Posted 02-11-2020 04:36 PM
    Hi Alexander,

    Thank you for the response. You make a great point to which, if I may, I'd like to add.

    Good ol' pen and paper is an excellent back-up. When the time comes that technology fails us, we need another means to keep a record, or we'll likely forget the details. However, today and on most projects, those times shouldn't come along very often, so our ordinary means of capturing data should be efficient, digital means. Then, on that rare occasion when we need it, we can fall back on our rudimentary, slow yellow notepads.

    Similarly, with our brave bridge inspector dangled over the river, he is carrying out a less-common inspection requiring a unique solution. The majority of us carry out inspections on our own two feet on a stable surface.

    I imagine there is a simple solution from which 80 percent of us, if not more, would benefit. The specialist professionals may need something extra, but at least 80 percent of us would be better off. I'm surprised the solution doesn't exist already, but then our industry is way behind. Perhaps, Brent and his programmer buddy can solve this for the rest of us.

    I'm still curious about the Site Diary app https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjU_QFu4kgo. If anyone has experience with it, I would love to hear from you.


    George Lintern Aff.M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer
    Nashville TN