Remember when the promise of technology was to save time, yet the opposite proved to be true, with project and inspection data entry adding additional hours of work every day?
A technology company called HeadLight may have a solution for that. Their two products, Fieldbook and Materials, provide visual-based inspection technology and program management that not only save time, but also ensure project quality and accountability, improved efficiency, better communication, and real-time visibility.
Those may be heady claims, but a field test conducted by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Research Center confirmed increased productivity, greater observation data, better timeliness, and increased efficiency thanks to HeadLight. The results of the DOTD field test were published by the Louisiana Transportation Research Center (LTRC) in January 2020.
The research project explored the feasibility of replacing their traditional, paper-based inspection process with a cloud-based, mobile project inspection technology – HeadLight. Previous research conducted by three other departments of transportation indicated increased inspector productivity and an improvement in the quality of the inspection data collected in the field. These external findings gave the DOTD a basis for their field trial and evaluation.
The objectives of the DOTD HeadLight field test included:
- Measure any increase in available time spent on field inspection;
- Measure any change in quality and quantity of inspection data;
- Measure the timeliness of submissions of daily diary documentation; and
- Measure the leading indicators for improving claims abatement.
During the DOTD 18-month pilot project, the HeadLight Fieldbook module was used by 182 project team members on more than 50 projects in four different districts. The users included project inspectors, engineering technicians, senior inspectors, office and field engineers, project engineers, and management.
The Fieldbook pilot project used Apple iPad Air tablets to capture and share data in real time, thanks to the cloud-based platform. This provided quicker troubleshooting, faster decision-making, and easier collaboration. Project inspectors using HeadLight increased their productivity 28% without increasing their work hours. The researchers estimated that with a department-wide adoption of HeadLight, there would be an increase in productivity of more than 117,000 hours annually.
“It is critical that our employees are equipped with tools that enable them to do their jobs more effectively. Not only do we need to ensure all infrastructure projects are safe, but we want to execute them efficiently, so we minimize disruptions to residents and spend taxpayer dollars responsibly.”
– Shawn Wilson, Secretary, Louisiana DOTD
While using the tool, inspectors collected and shared 1.9X more observations while increasing the number of photo and other media observations. This created a more complete record of each project, including time and location metadata. Daily Work Reports (DWRs) were automatically generated from daily observations, eliminating omission and transcription errors. As would be anticipated, DWR submission timeliness within 24 hours improved from 45% to 66%, and from 67% to 82% within 72 hours.
The data didn’t just sit on an inspector’s laptop after it was gathered. It was automatically integrated and stored in a central repository, which made it instantly accessible and searchable. This shared access improved communication across the project teams and the contractors, which reduced project claims and minimized change orders. None of the projects using HeadLight had a lost claim during the pilot study and there was a 75% reduction in claims on LADOTD projects using Fieldbook.
The DOTD concluded that substantial, quantifiable gains were achieved when HeadLight was used in place of traditional inspection processes, and that it should be fully adopted department-wide. Following that recommendation, the LADOTD has fully adopted the new cloud-based documentation tool.
Reinforcing the success of the HeadLight field trial and adoption, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) presented the LADOTD with its annual Sweet Sixteen Award as the state transportation department that best showcased the efficiency of a high-value research project implemented within the last fiscal year.
Other departments of transportation and companies that have evaluated and adopted HeadLight’s technology include the Utah Department of Transportation, HNTB, State of Hawaii DOT, Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Aguirre & Fields, TranSystems, and the Minnesota DOT.
To read the full LADOTD “Evaluation of HeadLight: An E-Construction Inspection Technology” or to learn more about HeadLight, go to www.headlight.com.