Filling the Gaps in the DOT Data Flow By Cyndee Hoagland
A steady stream of new and innovative technologies have poured into the construction space over the last decade, including machine control, 3D modeling, and collaboration tools. For many infrastructure contrac- tors, the value has been tangible in the way of improved safety, quality, efficiency, and productivity. For transportation agencies, however, the value of emerging tech can be more elusive. Agencies often struggle to see the value promised by the next great technology to streamline or simplify communica- tion and collaboration that should drive project efficiency and quality. These organizations lack the tools or platforms to bring various data from surveying, design, construction, and operations together into one source of truth. Additionally, one of the biggest problems in today’s project delivery process is the effective sharing and transmission of invaluable constructible project data. Typically, the owner and engineer build the design model, which they pass to the contractor, who has to re-enter and re-work that data to make it useful for facilitating the technology used during the physical construction process. Design data and models today are incomplete construction data sets and not readily utilized by a machine control system to construct a road, for instance. Constructible data requires additional work, typically called data prep, to allow the design data and models to flow through contractors’ tech- nology in the field. Examples of constructible data elements include adding more breaklines in a design model for the contractor’s machine control systems, or adding in rebar and concrete details to a bridge design model for contractors and their vendors to accurately estimate steel and concrete. How can DOTs fill the gaps in this critical data flow and streamline their digital project delivery? Pioneering DOTs have begun to rethink business processes and technology adoption to better align with project partners, thereby delivering projects with greater efficiency, accuracy, Detailed and data-rich constructible models are central to connected construction workflows and are ultimately the foundation of a more efficient and collaborative construction process that helps contractors build better and accelerate project delivery. Constructible models are designed, detailed, enriched, and shared by all project members, pro- viding collaborative advantages throughout the entire lifecycle. Small changes to design models can greatly reduce the time and expenses of the data-work contractors have to take on to leverage construction tech- nology. Cloud-based and open collaboration platforms provide readily available, manageable, and reusable data to stakeholders, shared and and fewer errors and issues. The Constructible Model
updated in real-time, which allows for better decision making at every step of the construction life cycle resulting in 15-20 percent improve- ments in the overall project delivery process. While the 3D model is the foundation of a successful construction process, it’s what stakeholders do with all of the information in the model that is driving transformation in the construction industry. Rich with metadata that can include everything from a highway’s design details to the composition of the asphalt to the temperature when it was poured, constructible models serve as constructible plans, with a plethora of both current and historical jobsite information that can be shared and acted upon by all. With sophisticated machine control and robots in the field, for exam- ple, models developed by engineers in the office can direct earthworks and layouts on the jobsite. Civil contractors no longer need to recreate project plans because the instructions for the work to be performed are driven directly by approved and shared models. Project information flows easily from the field to the office and from machine to machine, and the shared model is updated as fieldwork progresses. While this may sound more utopic than realistic to some, it’s not only possible but has been implemented in transportation agencies in other parts of the world. In the U.S., the development and adoption of 3D constructible models for the lifecycle of an asset is beginning to take place beginning with innovative State DOTs who recognize the cost and schedule benefits of streamlining their project delivery process. The Utah Department of Transportation has long been a leader in 3D modeling and is a shining example of how transportation agencies can utilize technology to help contractors build better. The agency has made a focused effort to move away from familiar 2D paper plan- sets that are advertised and delivered to the construction contractor. By 2016, large efforts such as the I-215 resurfacing project were leveraging 3D models in the hopes of limiting the time and resources needed to rework models and, potentially, get better bids and pricing from contractors. Departments of Transportation can benefit from connected construction technology solutions that enable design data to flow from the office to the contractor for machine control and survey.
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