By Matthew Valle

As society and industry grapple with managing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, construction technology offers a good example of how state transportation departments (DOTs), producers, and contractors can adopt new ways to leverage technology to ensure employees and customers remain safe.

Over the past decade, the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Every Day Counts initiative has deployed innovative digital solutions, or e-construction, to help solve industry problems. FHWA’s focus on e-construction has led to changes in the way stakeholders build projects and communicate key data across the lifecycle of a project.

Electronic ticketing, or e-ticketing, is one area that has an immediate impact on reducing face-to-face contact. It provides the digital transmission of construction material data from producer to consumer. Many states are exploring e-ticketing options. For example, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has several e-ticketing pilot projects, including resurfacing work in Allegheny County.

PennDOT facilitated this change by starting with a simple initiative, and adding small continuous improvements until it achieved the desired result. Such innovations have saved the agency more than $60 million since it began the initiative in 2013.

PennDOT’s leadership and innovation in e-ticketing highlight several benefits to state DOTs, producers, and contractors. These include:

  • enhanced project documentation;
  • tracked material yields;
  • streamlined payment process with digital reconciliation; and
  • integrated accounting systems.

Advances in cloud storage and computing are also helping the operators of asphalt plants, quarries, and ready-mix facilities integrate e-ticketing with their IT systems.

As all 50 state DOTs determine the most efficient path forward in safely transferring critical project data, cloud computing offers the opportunity to help unify and standardize how this information passes between public agencies, producers, and contractors.

The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic provide an opportunity to reshape our thinking on how we transfer construction materials information from the plant to the field. This is likely to prompt even more innovation.

Matthew Valle is vice president of services at HaulHub Technologies. See more stories about transportation design and construction industry technology and innovation in ARTBA’s “Smart Design & Construction” supplement.