I'm often asked about the use of communications technologies on the jobsite. My answer is simple: small steps. Although a few lead carpenters are using wireless laptops and/or BlackBerries, the biggest technology trend appears to be jobsite fax machines.

I recommend having a fax machine on every significant job, for these reasons:

Affordability. In general, fax machines are inexpensive. Even if they're damaged, replacement costs are low.

Ease of use. Your typical fax machine is not as complicated or intimidating as other technologies.

Practical. Computers require certain software to handle drawings, but a fax machine can handle a section of a blueprint, a sketch, or text with equal ease.

Paper trail. A three-ring binder with documents inserted is still the easiest way to find information on a jobsite. Properly filed faxes can be accessed more quickly than documents stored in a laptop.

Wide use. Most people have access to a fax machine, including clients, subs, suppliers, and co-workers.

On very large jobs, you might want to install your own fax line. Otherwise, ask the client for permission to plug your fax machine into their phone jack as needed. If they have daytime jobs, encourage them to use the machine to send you documents at night. —Tim Faller, Field Training Services, www.leadcarpenter.com.