March 2017 Vol. 25, No. 1

Current Issue | Previous Issues | Subscribe | Download

Minnesota LTAP Exchange banner
Screenshot of model of bridge

A single 3-D model can provide all the details that contractors
may need to bid on a project. This can reduce paperwork, requests
for information, and construction changes.

Guidelines help local agencies modernize documents

A recent project sponsored by the Minnesota Local Road Research Board and MnDOT developed guidelines to help local agencies incorporate 3-D modeling and electronic document management (EDM) into their design, bidding, and construction processes.

The project captured best practices for producing and delivering road construction plans and documentation from several Minnesota cities and counties, industry, and several other state departments of transportation (DOTs).

The project evaluated which options might be beneficial and feasible for local agencies in Minnesota and how those options might be implemented. “Our ultimate goal is to go from a paper workflow to an electronic workflow,” says Lyndon Robjent, public works director of Carver County and a member of Minnesota LTAP’s steering committee. “We have to look years ahead to address the challenges involved in this, but the potential benefits justify a long-term commitment.”

The project identified four benefits of 3-D modeling: the ability to store all project information in a single file, increased efficiency, better visualization and communication, and better long-term decision making. Challenges identified included the difficulty of introducing new procedures, the cost of the technology and its steep learning curve, and potential liability.

EDM benefits identified included increased efficiency in sharing data, the opportunity for nearly real-time collaboration, the ability to track design changes, and the ability to electronically archive documents. Challenges again included the cost and learning curve of EDM systems, as well as concerns about security and software updates.

The final report includes recommended procedures for successful implementation. Both technologies require software investments that need to be thoroughly researched, and both call for training and the development of policies to guide their use. In addition, implementation will require extensive collaboration among agency staff, contractors, and consultants.

More resources: