State departments of transportation are in a tough spot these days. Their operating budgets are getting constricted by a shrinking tax base; their workforce is shrinking as Baby Boomers retire; and they must find a way to build $3.6 trillion of infrastructure by 2020 (as estimated in ASCE's 2013 Report Card for America's Infrastructure). To manage all of this, DOTs need to rewrite the way they do business. In our discussions with them about how we can help, we have a front row seat to their thinking. We share below what we've learned they want from precast producers to do this.
1. Help reduce... or better yet... eliminate the paper burden.
As managers and custodians of public projects, the work of DOTs is record-intensive by its nature. Using paper is very costly: the cost of the paper itself; the physical space required to store it; and the cost of time required to file and retrieve records. The North Carolina DOT estimates that it will save over $1 million per year (in plant inspections alone) by transitioning from paper to electronic record-keeping. As of January 1, 2016 they are requiring all precast concrete producers to include rfid tags in their products and provide product tracking records electronically. The Michigan DOT, a leader in the FHWA's e-Construction initiative, estimates that it saves approximately $12 million and 6,000,000 pieces of paper annually by using electronic document storage for its $1 billion construction program. This also provides the added benefit of reducing its average contract modification processing time from 30 days to three days. Precast producers that help create a system of paperless inventory management for DOTs will help eliminate the paper burden and will be rewarded accordingly for their efforts.
2. Provide and manage information with the products you sell.
Simply put, if the vendor provides information that the DOT otherwise needs to manage on its own, the DOT will be more efficient. As an example, DOTs are responsible for documenting the domestic source of steel under the FHWA's Buy America program. DOTs are now looking for vendors to help them manage this where possible. Providing steel tracking information on-line for the rebar included in prestressed concrete relieves the DOT of managing documentation and enables greater efficiency in accessing this information when needed.
3. Enable them figure out how to rewrite the way they do business.
This is what concrete tracking is designed to offer. The producer starts a timeline history of information for each product it manufactures and makes this available to the DOT upon delivery. The information can then be aggregated to analyze where workflow efficiency can be created by the DOT. This is why MassDOT was able to get FHWA funding for concrete tracking pilot programs in two bridge repair projects started this year.
The DOT can also use the concrete tracking solution to produce more operating efficiency over the life of the product. By analyzing the lifetime history of product information, the DOT can gain a better understanding of exactly when a bridge structure is likely to need repair. It can then schedule maintenance proactively based on likely need, providing better safety with fewer maintenance people.
We have written about the powerful returns available to producers from product tracking. The same applies to DOTs. Producers that offer their own tracking system to benefit DOTs will be rewarded as important operating partners as the DOTs rewrite the way they do business.
Our purpose at Idencia is to offer infrastructure asset tracking solutions that improve productivity throughout the infrastructure value chain.. to create lean infrastructure. Our subscription offering applies RFID tracking to infrastructure products from the time of manufacture through end-of-life. As a cloud-hosted product tracking system that is seamless between manufacturers, contractors and asset managers, Idencia adds information value to all, eliminates redundancy and saves time. If you would like to learn how Idencia can help your company, we invite you to download a copy of our Idencia Primer ebook.