The Virginia Asphalt Association (VAA), representing paving contractors and producers in the state of Virginia, in an effort to further the partnership with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) opened a dialogue around innovation’s role to help industry and agency collaborate better to streamline project delivery. VDOT and VAA in a shared commitment to the modernization of construction processes partnered along with Superior Paving Corp. to pilot an innovative and photo-based approach to communicating construction material quality information from the field in real-time powered by an innovation called HeadLight. The effort dramatically improved communications and project management efficiencies and has proven to be a significant success for both organizations involved and the traveling public.
The partnership aimed to overhaul information sharing between the agency and contractors on complex projects and resulted in robust information sharing between technicians in real-time. In addition, the project information collected and shared could be easily viewed by any project stakeholder, at any time by simply providing them access to HeadLight.
Superior Paving Corp. identified a specific need within their organization to improve the process for reporting density in the field to not only improve their own efficiencies but also to be able to offer VDOT faster delivery and transparency into the work being done on the jobsite. In turn VDOT is able to move more quickly to approve and close work items which result in faster payment to contractors. For the majority of Contractor to DOT relationships paper forms are still the most widely accepted method for reporting test results in the field. So why did VDOT and Superior Paving Corp. support the need to overhaul the paper-based process?
Here are just a few of the responses from their teams.
- “Paper forms can be lost.”
- “The handwriting on the forms can be illegible.”
- “It is labor intensive to hand write up to 5/6 forms a day.”
- “Once accepted, paper forms still need to be filed or scanned into a system for record-keeping.”
- “Inspectors are not always on immediate site to answer questions.” (have to be in multiple places)
- “Difficult to collaborate.”
- “From technician to acceptance can take up to a week.”
The goal with the pilot program was to examine the impact of introducing a more efficient workflow by digitizing the current process with a photo-based approach to inspection and verification.
The initial efficiency measurement results have been powerful. Using HeadLight has saved at least two hours per day in paperwork which is a huge benefit to both Superior Paving Corp. and VDOT. Completed digital forms can now be sent once to any number of recipients instead of being transferred multiple times or copied using the idea of “Collect once, Use many”. The pilot results to date show HeadLight proved to improve accuracy in testing, record keeping, and efficiency when it comes to reporting asphalt density in the field.
Our Asphalt Quality Technicians like this app because this allows all their work to be completed as they go and saves them from having to pull out an additional tool to help with the math portion of their paperwork. At the end of the day VDOT has a digital copy of everything they need for a quick reference.
– James Terrell / Quality Assurance Manager Southern Region
HEADLIGHT IN ACTION
Imagine how many times an inspector or technician in the field sees bad road conditions on their project that may point to the reason for low-density readings? Or maybe they observe best practices that they would like to highlight and share with the team. What about a red flag in regards to safety? With HeadLight capturing photos of these observations and attaching them in their daily report becomes a natural part of the daily workflow.
The Superior Paving Corp. and VDOT pilot documented the following benefits of having HeadLight on their project.
HeadLight observations were useful in …
The above examples are actual jobsite observations that Superior Paving Corp. can now easily include in their daily reports using HeadLight. Including a stamp of items like the weather and GPS locations when a picture is taken adds value to all observations shared with the team and has proven very helpful in communicating jobsite conditions with VDOT.
You can have multiple photos/video observations in real-time attached to your diary in just one or two clicks, in addition, it helps the manager to make a quick decision since he or she will have a clear idea of what is going on in the field without too much explanation.
– Engineer Tech III, Virginia Department of Transportation
The search capabilities in HeadLight are best in class for construction software. And the “Capture once, Use many” allows the agency project team and contractor team to use the same consistent information for their different respective purposes. For example, VDOT can take use of all the density profile information to spatially map the quality metric across their entire network of roadways for future preservation needs. Or the contractor can track the location of each truck load, where the material was delivered, and correlate that to the lay down density as to ensure quality requirements are maintained throughout the job. This not only provides a huge efficiency gain when compared to having to dig through paper files, but enables capabilities that were previously impossible in a paper-based world.
HeadLight provides VDOT and Superior Paving Corp. with a streamlined system to communicate site conditions and receive owner sign off and approval much faster than with their previous paper-based process. The communication trail between the two organizations is automatically archived and easily searchable if needed in the future. These are game-changing capabilities that enhance the partnership between Owner and Contractor by supporting the shared goal of risk reduction and on-time project delivery to the traveling public.