CAI application modernization offers a complete solution to project management, data and analytics, and application maintenance
A large state transportation department is responsible for more than 40,000 miles of state roads and 25,000 state bridges as well as programs and policies that affect the state’s public transportation, airports, railroads, ports, drivers, vehicles, and highways.
The state’s bureau of construction and materials is responsible for new construction projects and maintaining the state’s transportation system. A key component of this responsibility is the approval and testing of materials used in new and maintenance construction projects. Every year, the division responsible for materials and testing must manage 15,000 material mixes, 45,000 daily shipment entries of materials delivered to project sites, and 22,000 daily quality control sample results directly submitted by manufacturing plants. The division also must track and communicate with 5,000 approved suppliers, and store and track 4.5 million searchable test results, supporting documents, and other contents.
To accomplish its work, the division relied heavily on two critical applications that both needed upgrades. They were both decades old and developed using COBOL, which meant maintenance costs were mounting, and modern improvements – such as creating 24/7 web access – were not possible. The department needed modernization; specifically, web-enabled, user-friendly applications that could provide greater transparency, automated reporting, improved management oversight, seamless sample tracking, improved data management, and self-service capabilities for external users.
CAI reviewed the systems and business processes and designed solutions that would reduce costs, allow 24/7 access, improve data quality, and retire an aging AS/400 platform that carried an expensive maintenance contract. CAI developed two custom laboratory information management system (LIMS) web applications that increased visibility into the process for testing materials and streamlined communication with suppliers. Some of the key technologies used to facilitate this development included Microsoft .NET and SQL server.
Through application modernization and rationalization, CAI completely redesigned the user interface and developed significant enhancements and new features to provide department users with the ability to customize the system with little to no input from IT resources. The new construction and materials management application tracks samples with a complete chain of custody, captures test data, calculates complex engineering results, communicates results to external business partners, allows for tracking samples against specific construction projects, and supports a myriad of other testing activities.
And the new product evaluation and tracking application provides business partners with the ability to submit new products for review and approval so they can be used on construction and maintenance projects. The upgraded system also allows business partners to track their new product evaluations from start to finish and provides department managers with the ability to see instant metrics via a management dashboard with detailed reporting.
CAI modernized both legacy systems over the course of a multi-year project using an overlapping iterative system development lifecycle approach. The project team performed project management, business analysis, business process reengineering, coding, testing, database design, data migration, documentation, training, and implementation services.
"With improved sample and test data collection methods, including mobile computing and contractor QC test data...in the event of a material failure, we no longer have to search through file cabinets in hopes of finding the results but can quickly extract the information through reporting. This has significantly improved our ability to conduct forensic investigations on a project and...identify poor performing mix designs to prevent future issues."
Not only do the modernized systems reduce ongoing costs for the agency, they allow suppliers to enter their own data, monitor their testing results, research their sample history, search for information and get feedback quickly. The updated user interface improves communication with business partners and provides better visibility into sample processing and tracking.
The upgraded applications also give contractors the tools they need to easily identify approved materials and products for use on projects, including the ability to find items within a specific geographic area. Efficiency, transparency and turn-around times are all improved.
With the new applications in place, the construction and materials bureau now uses systems with 99.999% availability and minimal maintenance. The division can now handle 28,000 test results a year. Just the savings from reducing the amount of paper used translates into 3,000 hours and $11,000 a year. Benefits for the supplier and contractor communities and benefits for the department mean better and safer roadways and bridges for citizens.