A lot has changed with DOT projects. The biggest change? Technology.
One of the biggest areas of impact? Construction materials testing (CMT). Here’s how this technology – specifically CMT software – helps DOT Agencies boost productivity and meet construction timelines.
For DOT Agencies looking for direction on where to invest their funding from the Infrastructure Act – construction technology is a great place to start.
Specifically, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) offers a dedicated solution for DOT Agencies called AASHTOWare Project: a web-based suite designed for DOT Agencies to manage their entire construction contract lifecycle. The Construction & MaterialsTM module, one of many modules in the suite, focuses on construction and materials management, including laboratory information management. With it, DOT Agencies can manage and track the progress of samples through the project and testing lifecycle.
Currently, 16 DOT Agencies use the construction module of the package, and 11 use the materials module, with many more in the onboarding process. This solution is becoming a standard for DOT Agencies across the U.S. – and some are taking it a step further to enhance workflows and timelines even more.
How Nebraska DOT Is Using AASHTOWare Project + ForneyVault
Nebraska DOT is the first Agency to implement an interface with AASHTOWare Project and ForneyVault. AASHTOWare Project offers DOT Agencies an extensive array of data management tools to support the construction project workflow. But with ForneyVault, these tools are bolstered in one important way: testing workflows are fully automated.
Hear from Nebraska DOT firsthand about their experience with the AASHTOWare Project + ForneyVault Interface in this webinar.
Here’s how this interface accelerates DOT construction timelines.
#1. Eliminate Errors From Manual Data Entry
At the beginning of the construction materials testing workflow, technicians test wet concrete properties and cast specimens in the field.
This step of the testing workflow is the only time anyone must manually input information into the AASHTOWare Project system. Once a specimen is created, a unique identifier (GUID) is also created for that specimen and assigned to the sample and wet concrete data. A label with this unique identifier can be printed and applied to the specimen as the mold is stripped and the specimen is prepared for curing.
At the time of testing, technicians can simply scan this label at the machine, preventing specimen identification errors from illegible handwriting. Also, when the label is scanned, key specimen data points (like sample date, geometry, dimensions, type, expected strength, and more) are preloaded into the test machine according to the specimen identifier. This contextual information lets the machine, and the machine operator, “know” what’s being tested – preventing specimens from being tested on the wrong day or other invalid testing parameters.
When the test is complete, the test data is tied to the same unique identifier and automatically syncs to the AASHTOWare Project interface. Now, everything about a sample and its specimens can be viewed in one place – instead of manually entered and compiled in future steps.
For DOTs like Nebraska, this functionality has real potential to reduce errors and save time.
“Our steps have been minimized with this whole process and it has sped it up to where we think it has cut our time in half.”Tim Krason, PCC Materials & Tests Manager, Nebraska Department of Transportation
With the interface, manual data entry is all but eliminated – but that’s not all. There’s also one more place for automation: the test itself.
#2. Automate Lab Testing
To enable the benefits of the AASHTOWare Project and ForneyVault interface, DOT Agencies need a digital touchscreen user interface that displays relevant data at the testing machine.
While pairing a digital touchscreen with a manual testing machine will enable the interface, you can supercharge the CMT workflow by taking this a step further: upgrading to an automatic testing machine.
Most labs today understand the value of an automatic machine. However, not every lab has the need or budget to buy a new machine. Luckily, if your manual machine frame is in good shape, you can easily convert your existing manual test equipment to automatic controls with retrofit equipment.
This is exactly what Nebraska DOT did, and they haven’t looked back since.
“We’re glad we did it,” said Krason. “It takes away the technician from running the controls on the machine… They hit start test, then it runs the test on its own – it’s automated.”
The combination of these two factors – automatic data transfer and automatic testing – has helped Nebraska DOT boost productivity in the lab with benefits that flow through the rest of the construction project timeline.
The potential of this CMT software interface for DOT Agencies is exciting. So, where do we go from here?
The Future of CMT Workflows for DOT Agencies
The ultimate goal of the AASHTOWare Project + ForneyVault interface is to make data more transparent and accessible, so DOT projects can move along without any friction.
This goal supports where we see CMT workflows going in the future.
As an industry, we’re connecting more data than we ever have – but the problem is that this data is falling into silos. To move forward and modernize CMT workflows, we need to break down these silos and make sharing data across project stakeholders and steps seamless.
The reality is: No single tool can do everything a user needs, especially in the niche CMT process. As a result, we’re seeing a shift from all-in-one solutions to specialized tools that do their piece of the process very well. To create the most value, these tools have to be able to communicate with the rest of the workflow.
That’s what the AASHTOWare Project + ForneyVault interface accomplishes. The QA/QC workflow in the lab is a small yet significant part of a construction project. ForneyVault automates this testing – and then seamlessly connects it with the rest of the project in AASHTOWare Project.
Transform your CMT workflow with AASHTOWare Project + ForneyVault. Contact us to get started.