Arkansas DOT Takes Inspection Notes and Photos Faster with inspectX
Learn how Arkansas’ transportation department, after switching to AssetIntel’s inspectX, preserve their bridge inspection data, get fast responses to their issues, and save valuable time when collecting field data.
“We had a bunch of consultants working on a bridge, and we measured how much time they needed to take a photo or take a note. We clocked them at 10 minutes per photo or per note, when we can do it in under a minute with inspectX,”_ Kevin Weston, Bridge Engineer, ARDOT.
Owning and managing 13,700 bridges, the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) was established under Act 192 of the Constitution of Arkansas, 1977. It aims at providing efficient transportation solutions for the safety of the traveling public in the state.
ARDOT employs external consultants as well as in-house inspectors to inspect their bridges. They previously relied on another software to manage their bridge inventories and inspections.
The Challenge: Inspection data loss and unsympathetic customer support
After getting on board with the software in 2015, ARDOT found themselves experiencing multiple issues. While equipped with relevant dashboards and a data collection app for iPads, the software did not have the functionality to let ARDOT’s inventory managers run complex queries for inspection.
“Our database was set up in a way that made it very difficult to directly query and get meaningful results,” says Dale Bittle, IT Specialist at ARDOT.
But an even bigger problem was that they were prone to losing a large amount of bridge inspection data quite often.
In fact, every time Apple released an iOS update, the team from ARDOT had to go through the entire software on their iPads with a fine-tooth comb to ensure the inspection program was intact.
On a few occasions, the software would break down for a few days due to iOS updates, preventing ARDOT’s inspectors from doing their job and leading to entire inspection programs getting wiped out.
“We had issues with lost uploads and bad updates. Sometimes, we had major problems when our iPads updated their iOS to a new version. Whole inspections would disappear, which was pretty unacceptable,” says Dale.
Faced with such major data loss issues, ARDOT discovered there was no way to recover their lost inspection data, either.
Under such circumstances, the bridge inspectors were compelled to get back in the field, inspect the bridges, and take photos all over again. The bigger the bridge, the more data inspectors collected in the software, and the more likely that software was to run into data errors during data upload back in the office.
Additionally, there was little the software vendor's team did when it came to customer support. Every time ARDOT voiced their difficulties to the customer service team of the vendor, the latter would stress the need to upgrade to the latest version of the software. They would take weeks, even months, to address ARDOT’s complaint tickets.
“Whenever we had issues before, we had trouble with their customer service doing much about it, and they usually blamed us for our problems,” says Dale.
Further, even after ARDOT upgraded to the software’s latest version, their problems persisted.
“It was a land of difficult queries, disappearing data, and frustration dealing with the vendor,” remembers Kevin.
That’s why ARDOT decided to turn to inspectX in late 2019, in order to fully lean into better and smoother bridge inspections across the state.
The Solution: An innovative software backed by a cooperative client service team to preserve bridge inspection data
ARDOT worked with the AssetIntel team to switch to inspectX from their previous software. As a result, AssetIntel migrated about 14 years’ of Arkansas’ historical bridge data from their previous software to inspectX. The data included documents, assets, users, multimedia, notes, maintenance items, and asset inspections.
Before moving on to inspectX, ARDOT had considered a handful of bridge inspection software vendors, including AgileAssets. However, these vendors indicated they would take at least two to three months to migrate ARDOT’s data to their systems.
Such long data migration periods would mean that ARDOT would not be able to carry on their routine or other bridge inspection tasks for those three months. And performing no inspection for 3 months would not have been feasible for a state owning over 13,000 bridges.
This led the state’s transportation department to look for a new bridge inspection software vendor that would be able to quickly complete the data migration their previous software. Thankfully for ARDOT, the inspectX team could migrate the state’s bridge data within just 2 weeks. So, Arkansas didn’t have to stop their inspections for long.
AssetIntel deployed inspectX on their Azure-based cloud for ARDOT. At last, the state went live with inspectX in January 2020.
inspectX provides a unified platform that lets ARDOT process complex queries and get fast answers to their questions. Additionally, inspectors don’t have to worry about losing their inspection data.
Provide effective ways to backup inspection data
Essentially, AssetIntel uses an internal diagnostic tool to constantly monitor the offline inspection synchronization activities of ARDOT.
“In spite of iOS updates, inspectX has been pretty stable, and inspectors don’t lose data,” says Dale.
Of course, network issues are bound to cause inspection data sync failures from time to time. During a data sync failure in inspectX, the AssetIntel team reviews the activities and notifies ARDOT’s bridge inspectors immediately.
Most of the time, though, the AssetIntel team can restart the sync process themselves and complete the inspection data upload from their end.
On top of that, each bridge inspection under ARDOT is saved on the tablet in a backup or recovery folder for every sync.
In some rare cases, ARDOT’s bridge inspectors can also send the AssetIntel team a JSON file containing all inspection transactions performed with the tablet, along with all their backup inspection photos taken with the tablet. Once the latter receives the backup files from ARDOT, they use an internal tool to complete the inspection data sync for the state.
Thus, inspectX has a very reliable process in place to prevent the loss of ARDOT’s bridge inspection data.
Respond to tickets quickly and consistently
On the customer service front, ARDOT couldn’t have been happier.
“The software works very well, but if there ever is a problem, the AssetIntel team takes care of it very quickly,” says Dale.
Whenever they run into any issue whatsoever, all they need to do is send an email to the support team for inspectX. This automatically creates a ticket for them in Zendesk, a popular customer support software used by AssetIntel.
The customer success team under AssetIntel follows up on every question and request from ARDOT within just 24 hours, making sure no ticket goes unanswered. Such a robust ticketing system empowers the support team to deepen their relationship with ARDOT and deliver a best-in-class experience.
“Having experienced the opposite in the past, we were beyond pleasantly surprised with our customer service experience with inspectX,” explains Dale.
After receiving a ticket from ARDOT, the support team works with the developers from AssetIntel to solve that ticket. Resolving a ticket takes anywhere between an hour to a few days, depending on its complexity.
“They listen to us and fix all our issues, leaving us feeling spoiled,” Dale adds.
The Result: Taking field inspection photos and notes faster with inspectX
Since moving over to AssetIntel’s inspectX over two years ago, ARDOT has been on a continuous road to smarter bridge inspections.
In essence, the prevention of their inspection data loss on inspectX has encouraged all of their in-house bridge inspectors to start using tablets with inspectX for performing and reporting inspections across the state. Among other features, utilizing inspectX on tablets allows ARDOT’s inspectors to take photos and associate those with the respective element, defect, or agency item in inspectX’s photo log.
By contrast, when ARDOT was relying on their previous software, some of their bridge inspectors would choose to continue using pen and paper, despite being provided with tablets. They would then manually enter and upload the collected data on the computer back in the office.
Secondly, ARDOT compared the time it would take to do certain inspection tasks by their in-house personnel using inspectX on tablets, and the time taken for the same tasks by their external consultants who don’t use tablets for inspection.
As it turns out, the DOT found that consultants who don’t use the inspectX app take about 10 minutes to collect certain field data, such as capturing a photo or writing a note. On the other hand, ARDOT’s in-house personnel perform the same tasks in under a minute with the inspectX app. So, thanks to using inspectX on their iPads, the productivity levels of ARDOT’s in-house bridge inspection teams have increased.
What’s more, the customer support team’s quick and consistent responsiveness to ARDOT’s tickets also contributes to faster and better bridge inspections. “AssetIntel has been on top of their customer service from day-one,” says Kevin.
A future of possibilities
The state has been able to achieve its goal of preserving their bridge inventory and inspection data.
Going forward, the program managers under ARDOT hope to translate their time savings into cost savings.
To be more precise, they employ external consultants to inspect their bridges, who charge based on the time taken to do their job. Now, faster field data collection procedures have motivated ARDOT’s program managers to look at inspectX as not only a time-saving software solution, but a cost-effective one as well.
“inspectX is far beyond all competition from what I have seen, heard, and discussed with others,” confirms Kevin.
Consultants who don’t use inspectX simply hand over, or email, a PDF inspection report to ARDOT. This leaves the program manager with no option but to open the PDF report, then copy and paste all the information to inspectX. Along with being time-consuming, it prevents the program manager from accessing the original files when the need arises.
This ability to access the actual files as and when required, as well as the possibility of cost savings, has led ARDOT to decide to make it mandatory for their on-call and other consultants to use inspectX from now on.
“inspectX has top-notch employees that take pride in their database design, user interfaces, and customer support. Keep up the good work!”, says Kevin.
Change the Way You Inspect Bridges Today
With dashboards, maps, offline field data collection, and more advanced features, inspecting bridges with inspectX has never been more efficient.