Rugged tablets smoothing out road improvement projects

It can be frustrating when roads are in disrepair – or under constant repair. That is why Main Roads Western Australia is keeping 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 18,500km of main roads and highways covering over 2.5 million square kilometres. It’s 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.

A little over five years ago, each Main Roads WA regional office was using its own system to document road inspections and track repair progress. The problem was that 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.

Consolidating workflow systems

After doing its research about alternative technology-based workflow solutions and conducting extensive field tests, Main Roads WA realised 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 its data management, Main Roads was able to improve the performance of its maintenance and inspection management systems and, therefore, improve the quality of the region’s roads.

Increasing workflow continuity

Main Roads WA is a great model for every public and private sector organisation 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 would not 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 – especially those responsible for building and maintaining infrastructure – need a single mobile computing platform for workflow continuity between the traditional office, the vehicle and the field.

That requires some strategy and planning, as not all mobile computers are going to be well-suited for your workflow software. There are always other considerations when deploying mobile technology on the road, with safety being the primary one.

However, with the right mobile tools in place, both government-affiliated organisations 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.

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