Construction projects are like clocks. No, that’s not quite right. Construction projects are like… beehives. Actually, that’s a little too on the nose. Let’s go back to clocks. Construction projects are like clocks. Complex, interconnected, with each component interacting seamlessly to keep things moving forward. When a component breaks, or is even just slightly off rhythm, the whole operation can fall apart, leaving you late, frazzled, and potentially seeking a different solution for keeping things on track. Next thing you know, you’re leaving the analog world behind in favor of something digital. In the world of clocks and watches, that might just mean a Casio. In the construction industry, it means an investment into technology that supports seamless digital inspection.
For the team at the Minnesota Department Transportation (MnDOT), it specifically meant exploring a way to integrate their various field tools and databases into one streamlined solution. How could they connect the data they capture on rovers, with the inspection reports on their phones, with the database back at the project office? That’s where Infotech, Trimble, and AASHTOWare Project came in, collaborating closely with MnDOT to implement a solution that would vastly improve their inspection process.
The result was a mix of Infotech and Trimble software integrations with Trimble hardware and the AASHTOWare Project Construction & Materials module. Inspectors could now follow a simple process using these integrated tools:
Capture precise project data on Trimble Access via DA2 Trimble Rovers
Seamlessly sync project data with daily reports in Infotech’s Mobile Inspector
Push reports to the AASHTOWare Project Construction & Materials database
The team at MnDOT used this integrated process on for a lane expansion project on Minnesota State Highway 23, where their job was to widen a two-lane stretch of road into four lanes.
“We used Trimble Access along with Mobile Inspector to communicate with each other. Trimble Access allows us to shoot removals and other items before they’re actually gone and the contractor has removed them,” said Eric Loso, Project Inspector.
The team found that they were working so efficiently, they actually needed to slow down at the request of the project foreman.
“I pulled onto the job one day, and the foreman for the job came up to me and actually told me I had to tell my guys to slow down,” said Al Setrum, Construction Supervisor. “They’re measuring so fast and giving me the quantities, I can’t turn around and do my own measurements and give them to our office… That’s how real-time it is. We’re actually even beating the contractor to measure their own work.”
That access to real-time data benefits everyone on the job, all the way up to the Assistant District Engineer. It allows the team to respond to issues as they’re happening, not days later when a report finally makes it back to the office. With the ability to stop problems in their tracks, construction can progress more efficiently. Paul Rasmussen, Assistant District Engineer, echoed this point:
“One of the things that’s been very nice from my level is that when you have an issue on a construction project, the data is in place real-time, so those issues can be worked out quickly rather than needing to take time to gather more information.”
For Loso, the project’s inspector, the ability to digitally capture geo-located assets alongside stationing and offset information, then seamlessly sync it with AASHTOWare Project Construction & Materials is a huge advantage, especially when it comes to communicating with the contractor. The AASHTOWare module allows the team to print off reports and give them to the contractor, so it’s easy to confirm on both sides what the location is of a specific item.
The utility of this solution also extends beyond construction and into the maintenance phase of the transportation asset lifecycle. In the past, assets that weren’t captured digitally or with precise GIS data could be lost. Now, as Rasmussen points out, they’ll be easily identifiable throughout the asset lifecycle:
“For years we didn’t have this data collected… assets get lost over time. This gives us the actual coordinates of every asset we have in the field which will be tremendously helpful in maintenance and future design as we move forward.”
At the end of the day, the team at the Minnesota Department of Transportation was able to reduce a process that took 600 hours down to 73 hours, an 87% efficiency increase.
To learn more about the Minnesota DOT’s use of an the integrated Infotech, Trimble, and AASHTOWare solution, check out the video case study.
If you’re interested in seeing what this integration could mean for your organization, contact us!