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At Webcor Technologies, the lab is both a testing ground and a source of new revenue. In May 2001, Webcor acquired Hayward, Calif.-based BridgeNet Information Systems Inc. and turned it into Webcor Technologies, which tests, evaluates and develops technology for the parent company, and also does technology consulting for clients in the construction industry.
One recent development was an online time card system, which allows employees to "punch in" from remote construction sites and lets managers keep better track of worker productivity and safety data. The system ties into Webcor's Timberline accounting system, and speeds the time it takes managers to process time cards and site safety data required by federal labor regulations. Webcor plans to sell the application to outside construction firms this spring. Director Gregg Davis says the cost of developing the virtual time card project was minor compared with the results. "Superintendents used to spend four to five hours a week just processing time cards and safety data, and project assistants were spending about six hours a week doing this," Davis says. Now, he says, it takes less than an hour. Davis says he expects the new system to pay for itself within nine months.