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Dirt Simple Stories

Removing complexity from highway and infrastructure construction

Part I – Winning the Bid

The world's oldest known paved road was constructed in Egypt sometime between 2600 and 2200 BC. Since then, roads have played an essential element of the worlds critical infrastructure and shaped the way we live today, connecting businesses, communities and people. Roads drive the economy and make life simpler (when you are not stuck in traffic or looking for gas). However, building a new street, extending a highway, or undertaking a maintenance project provides many challenges, but it all starts with winning the bid.

It all starts with a plan

One of the first challenges on any highway project is understanding how phases constrain the labor and materials. Contractors often seek to minimize these constraints by running multiple scenarios to determine the best bid.

On complex jobs, rarely does one group or person have all the answers to develop the best bid. Reviewing alternative construction scenarios is the work of a cross-functional team. These teams make the best decisions when everyone considers alternate scenarios and visualizes the project in a single tool. After selecting an approach or multiple approaches, sharing information in professional interactive bid submissions can make all the difference in winning a bid.

Highway Project Google Earth overview

Performance is key to profit

Sometimes the office plan is not executed in the field. Communicating the bid plan to the field helps document project scope changes, and communicating changes in job site conditions once the project starts ensures everyone stay on the same page. These scope and condition changes require a similar analysis done for the bid. Change orders, like bids, require extensive documentation for agreement and payment.

One of the most significant constraints for any contractor is finding qualified workers for the field. Technology helps fill the gap. GPS rovers, GPS machine control, drones, and mobile apps help contractors increase production rates, document progress, and reduce the number of people required to complete a task.

Once a contractor has a plan that includes demolition requirements, traffic management constraints, stockpile locations, material sources, haul patterns, and production rates, he has to coordinate his crews and subs in a coordinated approach. Akin to a conductor in charge of an orchestra, with everyone looking a the same sheet music.

Developing a good plan, communicating it, executing it, and documenting it can make the difference between a profitable job and losing your shirt- wishing you never heard of the job.

Mobile apps for highway on Ipads

Making use of the information available

At the time of bid, data may be available in PDF or CAD formats. DOT’s are getting ever better at providing digital data. CAD files are useful for quick results. However, although slower data entry, the PDF files are often the legal document and form the basis of any legal contract. Simply combining all available data makes running variable scenarios quick and easy and allows an opportunity for value engineering and submitting alternative bids.

How does AGTEK help?

AGTEK’s Gradework with integrated Highway can read in CAD alignment and cross-section data directly, or simple and intuitive routines can convert hundreds of pages of PDF cross-sections into 3D surfaces making manual entry a thing of the past. Once 3D data of the exiting and design are available, apply the structural thickness from Materials to calculate the subgrade cut/fill quantity, and generate the mass haul diagram by phase. Mass haul diagrams provide an understanding of the most efficient way to move the material. They give details on haul length and volume to understand which dirt to push and which dirt to excavate and truck. Mass haul analysis can help find balance regions, determine where to create stockpiles, place spoil dirt, or optimal stations for import. Overlay the mass haul analysis with the plans in Google Earth to see how all the things around it influence the job.

Utilities influence the earthwork quantities and imported materials. AGTEK’s Underground uses the earthwork takeoff and inverts from CAD or PDF to quantify bedding, cover, spoil, or select backfill. It will calculate depth brackets analysis and volumes by strata to ensure accurate bid quantities.

Highway Mass Diagram

Stay tuned for Part II – Keeping Score

AGTEK Highway is an integrated solution to help contractors win more work and complete projects on time and on budget. Backed by industry and technology experts, AGTEK provides a complete range of solutions and is with you every step of the way from takeoff to final project handover. Agtek’s Dirt Simple Solutions are easy to use to get the job done fast and efficiently. For more information, contact us, and we are delighted to support you on your journey to win more projects and deliver on time and budget.