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Five Must Have Apps for Engineers

Smartphones and tablets are becoming more the norm in today's workplace, but if we only use them to call Mom and play games, we aren't necessarily using them to their full potential. There are many free engineering-type tools available to us that could make our engineering tasks easier and more efficient. The intent of this list is to provide some alternate options to tools and/or paper charts and trigger more ideas of incorporating technology into our work lives. Below I've listed some of the workplace tools (or an app catalog) that I have on my smartphone and/or tablet that provide great technical information in a time saving manner and a great client-consultant experience.

NEMA Configuration Guide

There are situations in the field during surveys when we come across electrical outlets that we aren?t familiar with or can't tell if it's single-phase or three-phase. Summit Electric Supply released an app last year designed specifically for electrical professionals that contains more than 240 NEMA receptacle and plug configurations to make it easier for us to identify complex devices quickly. The search tool allows you to enter parameters to filter for exact matches. I've also used this app to communicate and document conversations with clients and develop design intent in a basis of design document. Other free NEMA reference apps are also available.

Decibel 10th

Sound can be problematic in a new tenant space. Whether related to water piping, HVAC duct or equipment in the ceiling, or outside influences, it's important to document and properly address the issue on behalf of the client. The Decibel 10th meter app by SkyPaw Ltd. is an extremely simple and useful tool for measuring and documenting sound issues. The app also has a pause button, a refreshing rate adjustment, and a decibel sound guide. This app can also be a fun thing to use next time you drive past the airport or are at a concert.

LED Flashlight

You can never underestimate the need for a handy flashlight, whether it?s on the job site or trying to recover something from under the driver-seat of your car. There are many different free flashlight apps and all of them are pretty easy to use. The one that you'll find on my phone ? LED Flashlight by Nick Vellios ? received a Top 15 apps rating by CIO.

Light Meter

The light meter app that I?ve been using for a while is a sleek and easy to use app designed by whitegoods. This app takes advantage of the front and/or rear cameras of smartphones to record and document the intensity of light at a particular location. It also suggestions ideal scenarios for the current lighting source, such as ?ideal for reading printed paper of high contrast? or ?ideal for watching a movie.?

Conduit fill Calculator

Almost every time I walk onto a job site, I get the question: “What size conduit do I use?” The Conduit Fill Calculator app by Southwire is a great tool to calculate fill percentages or size of your conduit by quickly referencing the NEC guidelines. There are several other apps that do a similar task, but the Southwire app allows you to provide a “user defined” conductor diameter, which is helpful for the low-voltage cabling designers. This app also allows you to email your results. There are several other apps that we are planning on reviewing over the next few months; we look forward to sharing our finds with you…