Tracking Infrastructure

Why Tunnel Projects Require Digital Records

Posted by Jeff Pollock

Find me on:

Mar 30, 2019 5:11:07 PM

digital recordsSeattle just completed its SR 99 tunnel, a project that replaced the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel that runs under the city and offers substantially more protection to motorists against the effects of an earthquake. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) bills the tunnel as "one of the smartest tunnels ever built".  It's no surprise, therefore, that WSDOT required that product data for the segments manufactured for each ring of the tunnel be captured and transmitted to the DOT in digital form. 

We are pleased that Idencia was chosen as the service to capture and host this information. In fact, this was the second of three tunnel projects (so far) that chose Idencia to digitize its product information. So, we feel we have a pretty good perspective as to why tunnel projects are requiring digital product records.

DOT cost-efficiency

The cost of the service can be allocated to the project cost while the DOT uses the system for its own internal efficiency. This is quite attractive to DOTs facing shrinking operating budgets.

How does this work? MassDOT has done this with two bridge projects using Idencia. The DOT specs use of RFID tracking into the projects. The tags are embedded by the manufacturer. The manufacturer can be required to collect QC information on tablets using the Idencia app and/or the DOT inspectors can use it to collect test information. This is automatically uploaded to the DOT's web-hosted Idencia account and reports (customized to the DOT's needs) are automatically updated in real time. This saves substantial time in managing a paper trail that would otherwise look something like this:

DOT Process for Recording MaterialsIn addition to saving time, reducing the number of people required and minimizing the cost of purchasing and storing paper, digital records enable the DOT to perform analytics and transfer information easily.  And this is all funded out of the capital cost of the project instead of the DOT's operating budget.

Manufacturing and construction efficiency

Digital records enable cost efficiency in manufacturing and construction as well. The complex nature of tunnel construction can make inventory management a highly inefficient process. Digital records address this. For instance, organizing the segments for each ring in the laydown yard (or the manufacturer's yard) can be logistically challenging and result in time delays. With each segment serialized by an RFID tag, the contractor can simplify the organizing process by scanning a piece and instantly identifying the ring in which it is to be placed.  Additionally, the records for each segment can be associated with its ring, so information retrieval is much simpler and more effective. 

Forensic analysis

Unfortunately, accidents happen and analysis needs to be undertaken to determine the cause. In 2006, a ceiling panel fell out of the Fort Point Channel Tunnel in Boston. More recently, a pedestrian bridge at Florida International University collapsed while under in construction in March 2018.

Serializing each product used in the project and retaining digital records can make forensic analysis much quicker and more effective, both critical factors in times of emergency. Equally as important, digital data enables project managers to perform better predictive analysis that can prevent accidents from happening.

For these reasons and more, tunnel project managers recognize the value of digital product records and are increasingly specifying them in their projects. Other examples:

  • Toronto Subway Extension Project (Toronto, Ontario  Canada)*
  • Ottawa Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel (Ottawa, Ontario  Canada)*
  • West Gate Tunnel (Melbourne, Victoria  Australia)

*Used Idencia to collect and host digital records

If you would like to discuss how Idencia can make your infrastructure project more efficient, please contact us by clicking below.


Request  Idencia Consultation


About Idencia

Our mission at Idencia is to elevate the productivity of infrastructure product manufacturers. We offer RFID tracking solutions that improve productivity and offer value throughout the value chain. 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. 


Topics: Infrastructure News, Idencia Use Cases, Connected Concrete

About this blog

Tracking Infrastructure is a blog about innovation in the manufacture, construction and management of infrastructure.

Subscribe to Email Updates

The Idencia Solution

Click on image below to learn how Connected Concrete™ provides real-time solutions for:

  • Inventory counts
  • Inventory location
  • Shipping records
  • Production records
  • QC compliance records
  • Equipment maintenance

New Call-to-action