It doesn’t matter if you’re reading this from Australia or somewhere in Latin America, the United States or the United Kingdom, you can appreciate the frustration that daily drivers face when roads are in disrepair – or under constant repair. That is why I think you’ll appreciate what Main Roads Western Australia is doing to keep one of the most widely geographically distributed road networks in the world in top shape for the millions of people and billions of dollars and goods that traverse the region every day.
As the State road authority, Main Roads WA is responsible for building, inspecting and maintaining more than 18,500 kilometres (nearly 11,500 miles) of main roads and highways covering over 2.5 million square kilometres (>1.5 million miles). No easy feat by anyone’s standards. Yet, this government-affiliated agency has found a way to simplify one of the most complex jobs in the public sector while simultaneously raising the bar for road quality standards for the world using just rugged tablets.
(Not So Fun) Fact|
Over the last five years, AAA found that damaged roads have cost U.S. drivers $15 billion in vehicle repairs, or approximately $3 billion annually. The average driver reported spending $300 to repair pothole damage to their vehicle and many reported having to make repairs an average of three times in the last five years.
About five years ago, each Main Roads WA regional office was using their own system to document road inspections and track repair progress. The problem was, most of these systems were heavily reliant on paper-based documents or Toughbook notebooks that could not be safely mounted in vehicles. Considering the sheer number of resources it requires to coordinate field-based teams, much less execute and track the high volume of projects in the works on any given day, these legacy “systems” were failing fast.
After doing their research about alternative technology-based workflow solutions and conducting extensive field tests, Main Roads WA realized that rugged tablet-based solutions were the best way forward. By giving every worker an Xplore rugged tablet, this transport authority was able to migrate its seven regional offices onto the same agency-wide workflow system. Everyone was able to login to the same software applications to manage assets, record, track road maintenance issues, and retrieve job requirements, whether they were on site, on the road or in the office. By using mobile technology to directly improve the quality of their data management, Main Roads was able to improve the performance of their Maintenance and Inspection Management Systems and, therefore, improve the quality of their roads.
They are a great model for every public and private sector organization to follow, especially those with highly mobile workforces charged with managing disparate transportation fleets or infrastructure assets. It is highly inefficient and certainly not cost-effective to invest in multiple devices, and therefore multiple software platforms and configurations, to deliver critical workflows to every employee and job site. You wouldn’t give one employee two different desktop computers, so why give them multiple computers at all?
As Main Roads WA can advocate, today’s government, transportation and field-based agencies need a single mobile computing platform for workflow continuity between the traditional office, the vehicle and the field. Now, that requires some strategy and planning, as not all mobile computers are going to be well-suited for your workflow software. And, there are always other considerations when deploying mobile technology “on the road”; safety being the primary one, as Main Roads WA emphasized in their interview. (We’ll discuss all of these considerations in a webinar with Field Technologies Online on 21 September. Register now .)
However, with the right mobile tools in place, both government-affiliated organizations and private sector companies can improve worker productivity – which accelerates project timelines, making your customers happy – and eliminate wasteful operational expenditures, which is especially critical when taxpayer dollars are driving these projects.
See how the City of Anchorage, Alaska, is using rugged tablets to digitally maintain and inventory traffic control devices.
Read about the First Electronic Tablets Deployed by the Navy in Shipyard Log.