Ok, a quick disclaimer reminder here as you enjoy the book, we are not here to promote any one product, service or company.
We’ll talk about software like MicroPAVER™ and StreetSaver® pavement management software, on the consulting side of the business, we set up about 14 or 15 local agencies in the Southeast with StreetSaver® pavement management software. We also used MicroPAVER™ to do pavement manager for the US Corp of Engineers at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. On the teaching side we cover both software in detail in IPMA™ Academy www.ipmaacademy.com and do private customized training on both. There may be many different ways to evaluate and manage your pavments, these two software programs we discuss may be the only two that follow ASTM 6433 verbatum. The reader is encouraged to look at all of the options, not just the ones that we discuss in this book.
That being said, know that many cities and counties across this country and the world use these two programs with great success.
The City of Oakland in Georgia for example, were the very first people to use StreetSaver® in the Southeast. We also do a lot of work for the U.S. Army corp and other local agencies with MicroPAVER™ whick is also used by the largest municipality in USA, City of LA. And we actually go out, Scott McDonald and I, and teach MicroPAVER™ training for 2 ½ days, LIVE, we just did a session in Richmond, VA as a matter of fact.
For those of you who are interested you can listen in to www.betterroadradio.com the only podcast on the planet dedicated to saving our crumbling roads, Episode 3 to hear a session from Blair and Scott as they discuss the key elements of setting up your pavement management system successfully.
I have gone ahead and enclosed the transcript of our podcast session here in the off chance that you are sitting by the poolside at Meilia Pardisus in Punta Cana, DR and have to put your right hand on your forehead and left leg up in the air to attempt to connect to the world wide internet with little or no reception.
- Better Roads Radio Episode 3 Transcript –
(musical intro plays)
Blair Barnhardt: Hi everyone this is Blair Barnhardt Founder and Executive director of the International Pavement Management Association www.ipma.co and your host of Better Roads Radio www.betterroadsradio.com. So glad you could join us for another episode here as the struggle to try to save our crumbling roads here not only in America but the rest of the world for that matter. I’m so glad you could join us. Today we have IPMA™ Academy Advisory Board Member www.ipma.co/advisory-board Scott McDonald with us. Scott McDonald go ahead and introduce yourself, so glad you could be here.
Scott McDonald: Hey Blair good to be here with you. We are in Richmond, Virginia (USA) doing some training for the city of Richmond this week. I work for Atkins North America but I also provide all the technical support and training to the American Public Works Association www.apwa.net user community for the PAVER™ software system so Blair and I are kind of splitting up the duties in terms of providing the city of Richmond with some information that is going to help them do a more effective job of managing their pavement here in the city.
Blair: Really amazing when you think about a city of this size and 900 center lane miles Scott that got a lot of financing behind them to get this job done and get it set up. It got a lot of people involved with this loop; a lot of very smart people but there’s still a lot of missing elements and it is always amazing when we sit down with these folks the questions they come up with and the concerns they have and whether it is a GIS professional, whether it is the inspection people looking at the new hot-in place job last year or it could be the people actually doing the work planning going forward.
There is a variety of different people involved with the pavement management system and we started to draw that on the whiteboard and saw the integration between the GIS (Geographical Information System), the PAVER™ system, and the Cityworks® Software in this case.
It really made me realize the high level of expertise that is required to get this up and going and to be quite honest it can be overwhelming even to us in the industry so what advice do you have for someone at a local agency and they could be listening in here from anywhere in the world for that matter and by the way APWA, American Public Works Association if you are interested in learning more about that check out www.apwa.net.
So what advice Scott do you have for the first time implementation of a pavement management system. What elements are critical elements that the local agencies absolutely have to have whether they do it themselves or whether they hire somebody to do it or some hybrid situation?
Scott: Well you know what, when you were just mentioning what you did a second ago about how you mapped this out on the board this morning it made me realize and Dr. Moe Shahin mentions this regularly as well that for any organization to have a successful pavement management system implementation it really requires buy-in from everybody that is even remotely going to be involved in the process, so you’ve got Public Works, you’ve got Engineering, you’ve got GIS personnel, you’ve got the people that are actually going to be going out on the streets doing the repairs if that is all happening internally, and I think that is the good news here at Richmond but to be able to get buy-in from all the important players if you will I think is a great first step.
Once you get that established it is really also important to understand that a system is made up of several components not the least of which is having a good software system at the core. We are here talking about PAVER® today.
We are here today (Blair and I) in the city of Richmond. (In addition to teaching this week with Blair) I also represent PAVER® for the American Public Works Association. I’ve been involved with PAVER® for years and I believe in what it does. I think a couple of things about PAVER® that makes it powerful are “A” it is the ASTM standard of practice in terms of calculating the pavement condition index, the price is right on it because of the fact that a lot of the development costs are being sponsored by the Department of Defense.
Blair: That was a great point. I mean really it is a $999.00 for APWA members. I don’t know what software you can buy that is going to run a 100 million dollar infrastructure for $999.00!
Scott: Well that and you mentioned Cityworks® a minute ago. Cityworks® went through the trouble to integrate a link with PAVER™ so they trade information back and forth so if a city needs to utilize the information that Cityworks® can manage, you’ve got a link automatically connected to PAVER™ and then PAVER™ also links to GIS. Internally you can take all the information that you are using in PAVER™ and link it easily externally so there’s a lot of flexibility there.
Blair: Yeah great point.
Scott: You know you asked about some of the important points as far as getting it implemented and so many things come to mind but I have to tell you that more times than I hate to remember there has been a lot of rework done from people that initiated the process and didn’t really pay attention to some of the important initial requirements if you will and we are talking about PAVER™ at the moment but you really need to make sure to the best of your ability that the organization needs to collect information about its pavement network with respect to how it wants to segment it so you are talking about sectioning.
What’s the best way to section it? Not always is that intersection to intersection which is the way the GIS maps are going to break it down but if you can think about how you would section it from a pavement management approach we also want to talk about what the age of those segments are, what is the surface type of those segments and what PAVER™ calls the section rank, what’s that functional use of the section so is it an arterial, is it a residential, is it a parking lot?
You break all of that down and if you can collect that information at a minimum then you’ve got some very solid information to get started with.
Blair: Well let’s face it you are dealing with again 100, 200, or 300 million dollars’ worth of infrastructure in any one city so you send the crew out there and you collect this data whether you using semi-automated methods or boots on the ground methods. Scott I think when we crunch these numbers it always amazes me that an agency is only spending 2 or 3 cents per square yard.
At the end of the day even with all the people that have gotten involved in this loop for a mere 2 or 3 cents per square yard to implement a pavement management system and correlate all that back at their office and have this network level inventory of all the roads just like you said with the functional class codes what do we have for pavement types? What they heck are we going to do in 10 years, what are we going to do in 20 years?
Well the bottom line is in the case of Richmond which is a perfect example, if they can use the eco-efficient preservation in-place recycling techniques and save let’s say 20-30% of the budget so now they are saving $8.00 or $9.00 per square yard on any one given project, they are spending 3 cents that looks to me like a $7.97 net gain.
It is almost like they cannot afford to implement a pavement management system. What are your thoughts of people sitting on the fence and saying well that’s for fancy cities. You’ve been with a lot of small cities. You’ve been with a lot of big cities and counties and states. What is your advice on people sitting on the fence.
Scott: Gosh I will say this to the folks that are listening. I’ve known Blair for a while and both of us have been involved in assisting people in implementing pavement management systems I think at all different levels from managing the entire process to maybe just going in and providing some initial training and guidance and then letting them do it.
Again I think what is going to make it effective and what is going to make the difference is when they can try to make an honest determination of what they are capable of doing internally.
Blair: Good point.
Scott: What resources do you have and what resources don’t you have. I ‘ve sort of got this contention that if you can employ the services of somebody that knows what they are doing you are going your going to potentially really get a much better bang for your dollar there.
You made a comment earlier today that I would love to reiterate to everybody that is listening and that is not in every case is the lowest bidder the best person to get on your team and that is true in all facets of business from manufacturing to service sector related types of things.
I think if you can find somebody that knows what they are doing, so again if you want to focus the conversation on PAVER™ for a moment and if that becomes the central hub of your management system find somebody that knows what they are doing with PAVER™ and get their help to whatever level you need it and what I have found and it has been a personal experience of mine from the time I spent at the University of Illinois supporting a variety of organizations to now having the opportunity to work with some directly, you won’t have to go back into a lot of rework so do it right the first time, save yourself a lot of money, and again if you’ve got the right buy-in from the right people I think that cost effectiveness is the name of the game throughout the process and I think that includes investing some funds in getting the assistance necessary to make that management system get up and running effectively.
Blair: At all costs and I think you made a good point too earlier Scott in that you have seen too many agencies set PAVER™ up, get all the books, get Dr. Shahin’s book, get all the manuals, and go out and do the evaluation, get all that data into the computer and then it is like 8 years later they are calling you and saying well we really haven’t kept up Scott what should we do?
It must be a real heartbreak for you to get someone set up and running and then only to have everything sit and collect dust on a bookshelf and maybe transfer of the guard; maybe the county engineer goes to another location and so forth new guy comes in and new County Engineer comes in and she is not familiar with PAVER™ and all of the sudden everything basically goes out the door.
All those efforts that went into setting it up are they something that can be kind of rekindled or do you almost have to go in and start fresh each and every time?
Scott: Well you know I think we have seen plenty of cases where people come in and they become the point person and then they leave and move on to other things and then they took all the information with them and they had to start all over again.
In other cases their organizations at least had enough foresight to think that if someone had the possibility of if nothing else maybe being promoted or moved to another department if they wanted to have some continuity with respect to the knowledge of handling the pavement management system you know that is sure the best way to go but I think if an organization that has the luxury of initially moving into implementing a system could really think through all of the steps and I would highly advise to call somebody that has done this before and talk them through it.
People ask me also a lot can you give me the names of some organizations that are using MicroPAVER™. Not in every case are they always the best reference and I don’t mean that in the sense that if anyone is currently using MicroPAVER™ that they may not be doing it the right way as much as they might have adopted it to do their specific organizational needs or to their constraints and for that reason not necessarily the way they are doing things may provide you with all the information you need.
But to be able to at least do I think a quick not only a needs assessment of where you are at but also an inventory of what you have to work with will really help launch the process off and at least give you initially a way of moving forward hopefully most effectively, most cost effectively and making a good contingency plan so that you don’t get caught down the road with not doing a good hand off or transfer to somebody else effectively.
Blair: So let’s talk about the person comes in this is eight years ago, they set up the program, they’ve gone through a little bit of training perhaps, they’ve gone ahead and used their own methodology of setting up section names and section ID numbers and the likes of that.
Somebody comes in now eight years later, the data sat on a shelf and nobody has manipulated any predication modeling or work planning or anything. Let’s say the system has sat sort of stagnant so to speak. What would be the procedure. Well let me ask you this, would it be the same procedure for someone starting out from scratch as someone coming in with data that is 8 years old?
Scott: Yeah that is always a tricky question to answer because people want to know how they can take advantage of an existing data set. With respect to PAVER™ there is a template that has been put together that helps guide you through the process of what you need to have at a minimum from the standpoint of a set of inventory data. So nine times out of ten you are going to be able to utilize some of the data you’ve got.
I usually tell people if you have existing data it is in one of three formats, it is either data that PAVER™ needs and it is in the correct format, number two it is data PAVER™ needs but it is in the wrong format or three it is data that PAVER™ does not need. So when you can simply quickly make the determination of what you’ve got to make up the difference usually is not that difficult but as we discussed with the city of Richmond this morning the most difficult pieces of information to collect are going to be the last construction date which identifies the age of the pavement which essentially is defined as the last time you did something structural to that segment of pavement and the surface type. The surface type can exist in a lot of different hybrid forms. So for them to have those two pieces of information about all the segments in their network moves them forward quite a long ways towards being able to put together a nice up-to-date complete set of inventory.
Blair: Okay, so let’s drill down on those three or four key elements. If you are fresh to setting up a system or whether you have been given the job and many of you agency people may be on the move now and at the time of this recording you know you may be at a certain location and by the time this gets listened to over the next couple of years you might have been moved onto another location and put into a brand new implementation of PAVER™ so let’s walk through a hypothetical situation if we will Scott.
Someone has set up PAVER™ at a city and 6 months later they get a job at a county and they say hey I think we should come in here and set up a new PAVER™, pavement management system for the county, they are a virgin user, they have never done anything. That person sits down and they try to get the buy-in.
He or she tries to get the buy-in from the county folks, and county commission trying to convince them that it is a great decision to do pavement management. Let’s talk about the three or five key elements and how we go about collecting that data and setting up the database from day one so it can provide the most robust and accurate results.
Scott: Okay so then quickly you want to put together an inventory set. In PAVER™ that consists of 13 to 15 data elements per segment. PAVER™ also has created a module that allows you to create a PAVER™ database from a GIS map. So ideally because GIS is becoming the way of the world everywhere if you have a GIS map of your pavement network and for every one of the records or segments you can identify these 13 or 15 depending on the service type required fields of information you populate that GIS file set which becomes a shape file.
You can actually hand that that to PAVER™ and PAVER™ will automatically create a database. At that point you will have your inventory established again assuming you are able to collect good last construction data information, good surface type information, and good section ranking information for every segment. Once you get that done and you get the inventory established then the next step which is a very important one is making the first round of inspection data collection.
The first time you do it , it is going to be pretty invasive because you are going to have to do every segment. From that point forward you may choose to stagger the re-inspection effort so you are spreading the paint out over a series of two or three years or whatever the case might be and the ASTM standard has a lot of governance in terms of how it recommends you think about doing that.
For those who are not familiar with PAVER™ it is a sampling inspection process so you are typically inspecting only about 10% of the network which saves you a lot of time and once you are able to get wheels under you in terms of how that works your inspectors become familiar with the distresses which is another critical link to the effectiveness of the process.
The inspectors need to be familiar with the distress identification process and carry a manual (The PAVER™ Distress Identification Manual) with them. Once you create that first inspection event now you’ve got a baseline that you can use to build prediction models and do work planning. Then you are off to the races from the second level if you will.
Blair: Good point on the inspection. So let’s talk about that just for a second. So let’s take the assumption that the inspection crew has sat through some training like you mentioned and again Scott is reiterating training here for those of you who have not had any experience in this genre. Not everyone has the luxury of going into IPMA™ Academy (www.ipmaacademy.com) and doing the online training but if you can get a 1 or 2-day training class on anything it will help your field inspection crew go out there and recognize those distresses and get accurate information back into your program.
I think that is one of the most important things of all Scott is you can’t just rely on hiring a bunch of interns or part-time help or maybe the neighbors kids or something like that for the summer.
You need to have somebody that has a bit of experience with road building that understands the difference between block cracking and alligator cracking and such. As you go through and you collect this data you are getting about 10% of the network. Now just touch on that for a second if you will.
Even as early as last year I had people coming up to me and saying I won’t mention names or which city or county they were saying we are kind of fixated on doing 100 % sampling and I’m saying you know you really don’t need to do that unless you are doing the keel section of a runway for an Air force base or Hartsfield Jackson Airport (Atlanta, GA) or something like that Scott.
Can you just touch on the importance of the understanding of the random systematic sampling of about 10% of the overall network and just put people’s minds at ease, those people that are adamant that they need to do 100% sampling on their city blocks.
Scott: Yep, that it is a really great question and first of all I would say that this system was designed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. They are phenomenal people that do a tremendous job of what they do and they have been at this for many, many years. So I would suggest first of all that this is a tried and tested process and the fact it has ASTM standard of practice compliance says a lot about the rigor they went to in order to establish a repeatable and objective system. But
I will tell you this to say it all quickly and in a nut shell, when you establish a section in PAVER™ and the boundaries of the section are determined by a pavement manager, 9.5 times out of 10 what is happening inside of the boundaries of that segment, the way distresses propagate within a section tend to be very even largely and very much I guess homogeneous would be the word I’d use to the extent that it really lends itself well to representative sampling.
So what you will find is this because a typical section in PAVER™ has distresses that are propagating relatively evenly you would really be wasting your time if you did much more than a 10% inspection because from one sample area to the next you are going to be collecting the same distress information and if that is true and you are not collecting any new information from one sample to the next then you are really beginning to waste your time in the inspection effort.
The way that the PCI (pavement condition index) calculation process is set up, if you have good representative samples they will calculate a very accurate PCI and the whole process from a network level management perspective is designed to help save you time and help save you money without compromising the quality of the data you are going to be working with.
Blair: Good point. And again we are dealing with a lot of cities and counties that may historically have done nothing more than drive the roads once per year and you know what I mean Scott and to you people listening I’m not here to point the finger and say how bad are you if you are just doing a “windshield survey” (just looking at the roads from the seat of your truck without getting out).
No I’m saying if you are doing at least that it shows you have the intent of having better roads for your city or your county and kudos to you anyone that is out there even with an Excel spreadsheet or a legal pad and an HB pencil for that matter. If you are out there doing something proactive good for you. I guess what I’m saying is that these cities and counties that are adamant about getting 100% sampling there is absolutely no need. It is going to be redundant. The PCI ratings are going to be almost identical if Scott and I were to go out and do 10% as you would if you spent all summer with a group of interns doing 100%.
Scott: And furthermore in PAVER™ the process calculates a standard deviation between PCIs that are calculated for all the samples involved in a section and without going into all the math and the details that lets you know really quickly if more samples are needed in a section that happens to have not such an evenly distributed set of distresses so you’ve always got a back check on that you can use if you are concerned that you are not taking enough samples in a section.
Blair: Perfect. Okay so we’ve covered what I would call mandatory. We want to have….well let me rephrase. We absolutely have to know a few certain criteria as we set up our database. Now a database is only going to be as good as the time and effort that is put into setting it up properly. So we get those samples, locations, and segments, the sections go into the computer and we are going to have the software staring at us looking for that last M&R (Major Rehabilitation) date which is the last time somebody came through and did some sort of major rehabilitation.
Now for those of you who don’t know how to collect that data or use your best guestimate or have your staff do the best guestimate you know we’ve had the IPMA™ Tip of the Week where we’ve had the fire hydrant where we taught you guys how to back calculate the base M&R date based on how many overlays we have, when was the subdivision originally built.
If you haven’t watched that episode, go to our YouTube Channel IPMATV and look up that www.youtube.com/user/ipmatv segment on the fire hydrant and back calculating the last M&R date. (as a reminder, if you register your Book on Better Roads at www.thebookonbetterroads.com/register you wont’ miss a single episode of IPMA™ TV).
But Scott you did say there was a tool within PAVER™ that would go back and try to calculate the last M&R if for whatever reason you didn’t have that data. Do you want to talk about that for a little bit?
Scott: Yes, so if you have a lot of sections that don’t have last construction data information and you’ve exhausted every resource in your organization to try to figure that out PAVER™ has.
Blair: See they shouldn’t have fired that guy that knew it all right? They should have never let him go.
Scott: (Laughter). PAVER™ has this tool called the Last Construction Date Back Calculate feature which basically allows you to try to the best of its ability to determine what these last construction dates were by using one or two approaches. One is you can tell this tool what the average points per year decline of your PCIs are for the families in question and it will simply back calculate to when it was supposed to be 100 based on that calculation and then change the date to reflect that or you can take a model from another organization or one of the models that are given to you with PAVER™ and use that as a model that you can go by for a families in question and it will follow that trajectory or that model if you will backwards to the 100 PCI point and then calculate what it thinks that actual last construction date was supposed to be or the last time that section had structural work done on it.
Blair: So if I understand you correctly it would be better for the agency to physically go out during the survey and do the best guestimate on the last M&R date. If they can’t do that and jump in here if I’ve misspoken but if they can’t do that let the software us its capabilities to best guesstimate and it is really as simply as going back three or four points each year and back calculating if it is a PCI of 70 and you drop three points per year it would back calculate I’m guessing 10 years if I did my math right.
Scott: Correct. Correct.
Blair: So now 2015 road would then become a 2005 construction right? I’m not that good with math folks. Sorry and bear with me. So we’ve got that out of the way with the last M&R date, we know that we have to have the functional class codes so I guess the City Inspectors that are going out to do the pavement evaluation would do well to have a rollup map of the functional class codes in their van as they go to do that and then just cross reference it. Can you think of any other method that someone might come up with that data?
Scott: You know it has been my experience that the functional class or what the PAVER™ calls a section rank is really the easiest of those three items to identify because people largely have that pretty well classified. They know how their collectors, locals, and arterials are all split.
Blair: And common sense has to prevail here so let me give you an example, if your inspectors go to a job and they are out there trying to do rut depth measurements and they can’t get on the road for the amount of traffic that is going by and their map back in their van says that is a residential route, it probably is not a residential route right?
Let’s face it there are times Scott when I go out to do rut measurement and likes of that and I literally would take 20 minutes to gather the sample information just because I’m darting in and out of traffic trying to not get run over. So if you are ever in question about how your agency has done this functional class code whether it is arterial, collector, minor collector etc. or residential really just take a good look at the traffic flow on a Saturday morning or a Tuesday morning at work time. Let’s move to the third surface type.
Scott: Surface types.
Blair: I remember Dr. Shahin saying there was a big distinction between an asphalt overlay and how it performed versus just a simple asphalt on rock base. It is probably a key element if you can get out there and determine that whether you are looking at the curb line to see if it has been overlaid maybe there is some fill of asphalt into the gutter line. How important is that in the overall algorithms as they start to crunch out those PCI numbers?
Scott: It is pretty intuitive for most pavement managers that if you have a full-depth asphalt construction versus a mill-and-overlay cross section versus asphalt overlay on top of a concrete slab versus asphalt on top of some unique base that there is going to be a difference in terms of how those different cross sections perform over their life cycles.
The purpose of identifying different surface types is to give you the ability to group those sections that have different cross sections into what we call families and then allow PAVER™ to represent those families uniquely using a lifecycle model that would be tailored to the dynamics of that specific cross section and I think that really gives lifecycle model that would be tailored to the dynamics of that specific cross section and I think that really gives you…it just increases the level of accuracy with which you are able to perform work planning on all of your segments.
Blair: Sure. So now you are drilling down to some very specific prediction models based on the functional class code and the pavement section type. So with that data going in and being manipulated as long as we have accurate data in we can expect to have the most accurate data out at the back end of the program.
Blair: Interesting. So let me ask you this and I don’t mean to put you on the spot here but you’ve been doing PAVER™ for so long and you’ve dealt with so many agencies and you’ve dealt with a lot of users who are just starting but you’ve also dealt with some seasoned professionals is there any one or two areas that often really surprise you when you are talking to a seasoned MicroPAVER™ user.
Do you have one tip that you can share with the listeners that they would have an “aha moment” and go you know until Scott said that I never really realized that I’ve missed that entire whatever? I didn’t know I could do that Scott. Or maybe I should have been doing that. Give the listeners some advice based on your decades of experience here with PAVER™. Again, thanks so much for joining us and taking time out of your schedule here. I thought it was a pretty good idea right fresh out of the classroom for us to cover some of this material while it is still fresh in our minds.
Scott: You know what I think that is a great question and I think I’ve got one answer that I’ll give and I think it would be this. PAVER™ is designed as an expert system or a decision support tool and it is designed to replicate what a panel of pavement management experts would do. Understanding that I think the trap that many of us can fall into and really any sort of subject area in life is if we come into something with too strong of a preconceived idea of how things should be or what we should do or whatever the case might be.
I think we are going to limit our ability to really learn, grow, change, and do what would be best in the case of pavement management for our organization.
So I tell this to people when we get into work planning discussions I will usually say if you can find tune the inputs to the work planning process which are going to be a quality inventory set, some good solid inspection data, and get your system tables which involve the cost tables all together nice and tight, get the prediction models strengthened and make sure everything looks good there and has inputs to the work planning process if you can be confident with those things, when you look at the outputs of the work plan you may not like them but let them challenge you.
Scott: Let them try to you know maybe suggest to you what you might do better. It is never an issue of things you are doing right now that aren’t good but let’s try to do them better.
Blair: So think of that as a challenge. In other words, so here’s an analogy, let’s use this analogy Scott. So let’s say we have a pretty cool circle of friends who are a lot of smart people and a lot of pavement managers and God knows we’ve traveled around this country enough we know a lot of really good County Engineers, City Engineers and Pavement Managers. It would be like if I could sit down at any one time with a table of 12 expert Pavement Managers, that is what we have with MicroPAVER™. It is literally creating a whole bunch of different perceptions on what could be done with your city our county’s infrastructure.
Blair: So I guess what I’m hearing is that if you are in a situation where you are used to just doing this or maybe just doing worst first and all of the sudden you are presented with this work plan out in front of you that is doing a whole bunch of things you are not really used to seeing I think what I’m hearing here Scott is embrace that. Make it a challenge and think of it as if you’ve just got 12 of your best friend Pavement Managers in a room with you and they are suggesting you do that.
Blair: That is a great point so at the end of the day when you do the pavement management implementation and you follow that work plan what surprises is the agency engineer all of the sudden is going to realize what is the big “aha moment” if they follow your advice Scott and they actually implement the work plan that MicroPAVER™ suggests year after year, after year.
Scott: Well so with the PAVER™ approach to pavement management being what they (US Army Corp and Dr. Shahin) refer to as a Critical PCI method which just simply means somewhere in the lifecycle of your pavement it becomes more cost effective to think about replacement the pavement as opposed to continuing to try to do some type of repair work on it.
If you can see that concept and understand that in the long run as you are able to apply the appropriate kinds of funds at the appropriate times during the lifecycle hopefully you know you know our goal will be to see as you are actually pushing this forward the impact of following some of the guidelines of a tool like MicroPAVER™ and allow some of the specifics of what is happening in your organization to be able to interconnect with it so it becomes a really unique customized tool to that specific organization that hopefully in the long run will really give you better visibility of where you are at, where you are headed, and how you can most effectively manage the funds you are dealing with.
Blair: So in your experience anyone who has followed your advice and actually let the work plan dictate what needs to be done, they’ve had good results.
Scott: You know I think it is an ongoing process and I think you would be hard pressed to find somebody that has been really trying to use the system that won’t say you know what I think we are really making progress and if you can be happy with the fact you are growing as you are adding data and it is kind of a feedback loop so you can trim your course of action more effectively I think you will see it happen from year to year you know a step-by-step process unfold.
Blair: So here’s a question you might not get that often but what do you do in a city the size of say Richmond or one of these medium or large sized cities when you’ve got five or six people that are going to have access to the database. Do you let one person drive the database and the other people help out or do you let four or five people on simultaneously manipulating the data and doing things differently. You are probably going to talk about this tomorrow but I thought it would be kind of neat to just look over your shoulder and kind of predict what kind of advice you are going to offer the city tomorrow.
Scott: Well you know what I think that is another one of those what works best for your organization kind of questions but I would have to say that probably you will be best served if you can find somebody that is your point person and somebody that is going to be champion is not the right word because it is already implemented but you do want to have somebody that is really promoting the cause of your pavement management system within the organization and being sort of a focal point in terms of the organization’s ability to keep everything coordinated and data flow working efficiently especially if you are going to integrate some of the inspection efforts in-house you want to manage that probably through one central person.
Other than that you can house the data on a file server and many people can access that data and utilize it for a variety of different reasons running different reports, looking at inventory information, doing a quick check of recent condition, assessment numbers, and accessing data for different reasons and purposes, going into the GIS maps and taking a look at some things.
So I think a lot of people can use it and it is always better if one person maybe has at least some kind of primary responsibility for it then they can keep an eye on it and then you know like you mentioned earlier, what happens if this person is going to leave? Let’s just try to sort of plan for that just so we don’t get caught short and have to do a lot of stop gap work then for that reason.
Blair: Great point. So in wrapping up here Scott, just walk the people through I know we had an intensive day today what with the preservation overall pavement management concept, the Three-Legged Stool™ (System of Pavement Management) and in-place recycling and so forth.
Tomorrow you are going to drill down and walk the city through the 10 or 12 basic steps and make that framework. If you will just in the short amount of time we have just go ahead and walk through the framework of those 10 top elements in the MicroPAVER™ program and if anybody has got any more need for more information they can always contact Scott later. Let’s walk through the framework you are going to cover tomorrow.
Scott: So easily in the nutshell I usually tell people if you look at the toolbar in PAVER™ from left to right it is a logical sequence and it goes like this. We start by talking about Inventory and making sure you build an efficient inventory that breaks down your sections or segments logically because that becomes the framework with respect to how PAVER™ is going to communicate to you. You are going to get PCI information at the section level. You are going to get work plan recommendations at the section level so you want to make sure you break that down efficiently.
Then we talk about Work History. Let’s put in some information about what has been done on that segment or section in the past because that is going to tell you why you have the PCI that you have. What have we done or what have we not done? So they after talking about work history we move into inspections.
We want to find out how to set up the inspection process, following the ASTM guidelines so that we are abiding by the rules and getting good quality PCI data from that effort making sure that our inspectors are very familiar with the inspection…the distress identification catalogues rather and then from there we talk about the different kinds of reports you can run in PAVER™, how can you get different kinds of data out of the program, then the next major segment really is let’s build Prediction Models which is going to leverage the organization’s data set to build organizations specific lifecycle models for your sections which take into account things like climate, soil conditions, construction, material types, and all of the unique things that go into how the pavements degrade for that organization.
Once you have your Prediction Models built and tightened up then we are going to talk about the use of system tables which means can we put together some good solid cost tables and some maintenance policy tables. All of the thing the Work Plan is going to use.
Once we get all of that covered then finally we will wrap it up with a conversation about the Condition Analysis and the M&R Planning Tools which are really designed to be able to provide the user with the option to have…to run multiple what if scenarios so it is a very flexible tool and gives you the option to suggest different budget scenarios, different goal scenarios so you get a good sort of spectrum of things to look at. It is not a one size fits all approach in PAVER™.
It is really designed to give you a lot of flexibility to try to take several looks and then decide what your next best steps should be. So that is kind of the sequence we go through.
Blair: Awesome. Hey you guys if you are listening in here for the first time and you are just about to embark on a pavement management system, it is not as difficult as it sounds. It is really a straightforward framework. Scott you did a great job of laying that out. Our advice is I think we can speak together on this, get some training where ever possible, help to set up your system, don’t be daunted by the enormity of the overall scope of setting this up. Once you’ve got the data into the program you are going to find out it is very easy to crunch some very robust budgets for your city council, for your commission. I’m so glad you took time out of your schedule Scott here during the teaching here in Richmond to help the other listeners figure out for themselves what do I need to do to set up a system and what if I’m walking into a system that is already set up. If the listeners have any more questions on MicroPAVER™ or pavement management for that matter please take advantage of Scott’s experience and Scott would you mind sharing your email address with listener?
Scott: It is simply firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blair: You heard it. Scott McDonald, APM your IPMA™ Advisory Board Member here. Thanks so much for being part of IPMA™, the International Pavement Management Association Scott, we sure do appreciate your input and thanks for hanging out with us today on this podcast. Better Roads Radio if you would like to subscribe, you guys know how to do that. You can find us on Sticher Radio, on iTunes or visit us right here at the website www.betterroadsradio.com. So glad you could be here. See you next time. Thanks for joining us.
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– End of Transcription from Better Roads Radio Session 3 –