Asphalt Delivery Tracking Goes Digital with Some 2020 Construction Projects

MnDOT construction projects require tons of hot mix asphalt each year, with over 188 road and bridge projects in the 2020 construction season alone.

Historically, plant mixed asphalt has been weighed, tracked and paid for with computer-generated paper tickets. Paper ticketing isn’t an ideal process for a variety of reasons—on-site ticket collection poses safety risks, tickets can be easily lost, and data must be tabulated manually, just to name a few.

A research implementation project, funded by the state research program, is pilot testing  an electronic ticketing system that records truck weight digitally, tracks asphalt delivery trucks via GPS and notes truck departure and arrival times through the use of “geofences.”

“Safety is always a top concern for MnDOT,” said Rebecca Embacher, Advanced Materials and Technology Engineer, who is leading the project. “The more people we can get out of these areas trafficked with heavy machinery, the better.”

How does it work?

Trucks at the supply plant are loaded with asphalt and weighed. E-tickets record the tonnage and type of hot mix asphalt, as well truck departure and arrival times.

When trucks leave the supply plant, they will be tracked until materials are delivered, via GPS and geofences that trigger time and date stamps when crossed at the plant and construction sites. This real-time information is made available via a smartphone application to help project managers plan for exactly when the next shipment will arrive.

Sample e-ticketing software interface with materials arrival times, readily accessible for project managers on-site.
Sample e-ticketing software interface with materials arrival times, readily accessible for project managers on-site.

What are the benefits?

  1. Increased safety: Removes need for on-site ticket collection.
  2. Labor savings: Less paperwork and manual tabulation of material costs.
  3. Smoother roads: A paver that is low on material and begins to cool down can leave a bumpy surface. Knowing when new material will arrive allows for a more consistent flow of material to the paver, resulting in smoother roads.
  4. Accurate accounting: Better record-keeping of material usage improves planning for future projects.
  5. Reduced risk: Mitigates disputes over which plant the material came from and whether appropriate haul routes were used.

Where will it be piloted?

The research team planned to pilot the technology on two or three construction projects for the 2020 construction season; however, in response to COVID-19, contactless ticketing will be deployed at additional locations to ensure social distancing.

“Currently, we have 12 projects that will be using e-ticketing this construction season. We are anticipating more as the construction season progresses,” Embacher said. “Our goal is to reach full deployment by 2024.”

Integrating New Technology

Successful adoption of e-ticketing technology requires collaboration with industry and government partners.

MnDOT is facilitating an e-ticketing task force that includes the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), contractors, auditors, labor officials, asphalt producers and others.

The group is developing recommendations for AASHTO MP39-19, intelligent construction file format specifications used by state DOTs. Once e-ticketing recommendations are defined, they will be voted on by all 50 states and refined over the next seven years.

A standardized system will ensure that DOTs receive similar data from all vendors and will be compatible with the AASHTOWARE pavement design software

“In the future, we hope to have e-ticketing interface with MnDOT’s Intelligent Construction Data Management System—Veta,” Embacher said.

To request project updates or learn more, visit MnDOT’s Office of Research & Innovation­­­.

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