TxDOT’s recent systems outage included their contract administration system, Site Manager, and occurred just days before their monthly reconciliation process for contractor payments began. It left staff with no way of generating pay estimates or schedule of working days reports in Site Manager. Clearly, a large problem for all active projects across TxDOT and an example of the need today’s construction organizations face in ensuring their tech investments operate as advanced digital construction management systems.
TxDOT construction headquarters empowered each of their districts to solve the challenge at a local level, allowing those closest to the projects the autonomy to devise alternative solutions. Some districts had no choice but to produce the month end payments manually. But, in four of those districts the CEI partner, Aguirre & Fields, was able to offer a seamless solution on their active engagements including the Interstate 30/State Highway 360 interchange, a $254M project that will replace the existing cloverleaf turnpike configuration with a modern direct connect interchange. It is the largest TxDOT project Aguirre & Fields supports and their ability to provide a timely solution that keeps contractor payments on schedule, and historical data intact, was a huge value add to the project team.
Aguirre & Fields Rises to the Challenge
TxDOT informed Aguirre & Fields of the outage on May 15th and they delivered a new fully functional business process and data output solution to the I30/SH360, and other project partners, by May 26th. The output report allows their TxDOT district partners to not only reconcile work items and pay estimates for contractor payments, but will allow them to easily input the backlog of essential project data that was captured, but unable to be recorded, into Site Manager after the course of the outage. The solution is made available through a visual-based inspection technology called HeadLight that Aguirre & Fields provides as a core part of their capabilities on all engagements.
“As soon as I heard what happened with TxDOT, and that they had no way to generate pay estimates, my first thought was HeadLight—we can do that in HeadLight.”
– Melvin Harris, EIT Roadway, Aguirre & Fields
Observation capturing a crew performing a cage placement including contractor, equipment and line item details. This capture is viewable in real-time by any team member, from home or wherever they are working that day.
Proven Results of HeadLight on Aguirre & Fields Projects:
- Eliminated 375 hours of administrative work per month, across 25 field inspectors
- Inspectors collected 4x the amount of data compared to their traditional process
- 60% reduction in the amount of time searching for information (to review, identify issues/disputes/claims, or collaborate)
Because HeadLight is a data-first vs a form-filler technology, the output is configurable based on user needs.
This capability allowed the team at Aguirre & Fields to seamlessly pull TxDOT’s project inspection information from HeadLight in an output format that mirrors the required TxDOT data. The team can directly use this output to produce the preliminary estimate for the Chief Inspector. The estimate can then be shared with the project contractors, used to process the schedule of working days for the month of May, and once any discrepancies are resolved with the contractor, can easily result in a full summary report of every completed work item due for payment, summarized into one view.
The prime contractor was impressed with the new process and requested comparing “working estimates” on a more frequent (weekly) basis. Aguirre & Fields was easily able to accommodate the request and anticipates it will make reconciliation much easier at month’s end.
Example of a HeadLight Workflow
This sample project depicts how inspection data seamlessly flows from observation, to Daily Work Report, to working days and work items summary reports when using HeadLight. Because HeadLight supplements the traditional contract administration process with true visual-based inspection capabilities, supporting visual data to show how a quantity was calculated and automated GPS data to map where an item was placed are seamlessly attached to corresponding work items.
Aguirre & Fields Innovation Impacts for TxDOT
Aguirre & Fields’ prioritization of innovation allowed the TxDOT teams they support to resume end-of-the-month processes in a way that fostered timely payments to contractors. Other project teams are relying on handwritten notations in field books, Word documents and Excel spreadsheets to manage their reconciliation which may risk contractor payment delays, incorporate inaccurate information, double the administrative work burden, and create historical data deficiencies.
Understandably, the immediate concern when the outage occurred was focused on how to perform the reconciliation needed to close the month. Of equal, if not greater, importance is ensuring that none of the inspection data collected in May falls through the cracks. Aguirre & Fields was able to confidently provide assurance that this would not be an issue for their projects because of HeadLight, and its ability to capture all of the May project data collected in a format that can be easily transferred into Site Manager.
“The feedback from TxDOT was overwhelmingly positive and our partners in the four districts we serve shared that from their perspective, HeadLight provided a redundant system that allowed field personnel to seamlessly submit the monthly estimate for contractor concurrence and TxDOT approval. Since the system was already in place at Aguirre & Fields, and they had seen the benefit of a visual-based inspection technology first hand, it gave them confidence that the accuracy of the data would be the same as before the network went down.”
– Paul Hoelscher, Construction Services Director, Aguirre & Fields
Quality Projects on Time and on Budget
Accurate historical data is essential to the future health of all infrastructure projects, and necessary for project closeout activities. The impact of Aguirre & Fields’ use of HeadLight is that no historical project information was lost nor was their ability to continue to collect project data as a result of the TxDOT systems outage. The observations collected and preserved through HeadLight’s visual-based approach create a safety net of rich media observations that are readily available and searchable providing protection against future issues.
Teams that invest in innovation to effectively capture, search and share a visual source of truth about their projects minimize unnecessary exposure to project risk and help support strong partner relationships. Aguirre and Fields, and their use of innovation, assured that TxDOT didn’t have to spend the same dollar twice—both in the time needed to capture, consolidate, and deliver end-of-month requirements, and also in the confidence of inspection quality and coverage delivered.