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4 Common Infrastructure Operations and Maintenance Issues & How to Avoid Them

Mismanaging assets can have huge consequences to your bottom line. If you’re not using your resources and tools efficiently, you could be losing time and money. Luckily, many of these issues can be avoided with knowledge and planning. To help, we’ve put together a list of four common problems in transportation asset management and how to solve them.

Unknown Data Streams for Infrastructure Assets

You know that quality data is essential to managing your assets. However, most transportation departments collect data using different technologies that don’t communicate with each other.  On top of that, many are siloed and unaware of all the asset data their department owns.  This lack of internal communication can make it difficult for you to get a full picture of your data, much less use it effectively.

PILLAR can solve this problem. We aggregate and normalize data from many different sources (from paper to pdf to complex databases) and departments, giving your organization far greater flexibility and eliminating the need for costly recollection of data you already have.

Inability to Read Data

All data is not created equally. Agencies often use their own naming structures and report differently than other inventory technology. These reporting discrepancies can cause confusion and inaccurate data interpretation. 

PILLAR has focused our entire agency on creating a clean, streamlined system for collecting, normalizing, and assessing data.  When you work with us, you’ll never have to guess about the quality of your data.

Work Schedules & Ticket Management

Trying to get ahead can be tough when you have a long list of work tickets and a continuously aging infrastructure. How can you possibly get ahead? PILLAR helps save time by logging all assets and mapping out their exact locations.  We also document asset conditions using our high-quality data and assessment processes.

Many agencies use on-site assessment and realize too late that they need a larger crew and specialized equipment.  With PILLAR, you avoid expensive delays and show up to the right location with the right crew, with the right equipment, at the right time.

Insufficient Funds

It’s impossible to manage your assets without proper funding.  If you’re like most agencies, your funding is dependent on state/municipal budgets. Having pristine data, a streamlined plan, and stellar communication will help you communicate your needs to state/municipal officials. 

PILLAR can help you get the budget you need to maintain and operate your aging infrastructure. Our bottom-up estimating forecasts your costs almost exactly, helping you justify program costs and secure funding.

Let PILLAR Help You Streamline Your O&M

There are a lot of details to track when it comes to maintaining resources and machinery. Having a streamlined system can go a long way in establishing high levels of productivity. Our entire agency is focused on maximizing the lifecycles of your assets through inventory collection, assessment, planning, and execution.  Contact us today to start streamlining your operations and management.

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How to Establish Predictive Maintenance for Transportation Infrastructure

You know from experience that operating and maintaining transportation infrastructure is complex. It can be difficult to predict the condition of assets and accurately plan for repairs. Agencies often rely on reactive maintenance schedules and repairs motivated by public outcry, or worse, asset failure.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Get a handle on your asset management with Pillar’s predictive maintenance model.

PILLAR is an infrastructure asset management firm. And we are solely dedicated to maximizing the lifecycles of your transportation infrastructure. We specialize in:

  • collecting and assessing data
  • using that data to plan improvements and repairs
  • executing the planned repairs

Switch to a predictive maintenance model with PILLAR

How would your agency or department change if you felt sure about the condition of your assets? That’s not an impossible dream. That’s a predictive maintenance model. Advances in technology can use data to predict the condition of assets so you can make informed decisions about repairs. Here’s how it works:

Asset Collection and Normalization of Data

Data collection is the first step in replacing a reactive maintenance model with a predictive one. We collect your existing geospatial data. Next, we use Mobile LiDAR to collect new data and strengthen the inventory of your digital assets. Then we organize your data to reduce redundancy and improve data integrity.

Asset Condition Assessment

We can use data collected via the Internet of Things (IoT), or machines with sensors connected to the internet, to understand your assets. Through IoT, we can gather data on thousands of assets like yours to predict the repair needs and lifespan of the assets you own. This mitigates your risk and allows you to budget for repair and replacement.

Maintenance, Operations, & Budgeting Plan

Our quality data will help you secure proper funding, meet performance requirements, and achieve goals. Using a data-driven approach, we’ll make a predictive plan that prioritizes your most urgent tasks. Not only that, but we’re prepared to put the plan into action for you. Our seasoned O&M managers are ready to leverage their skills for your business. We combine our elite data with hundreds of years of combined experience to reduce risk and make roads safer.

Management & Monitoring of Work Flow

You save money, stay on schedule, and meet your goals when you have an effective plan. We help you stay on track by providing crew and contractor supervision, supplement work and equipment forces, specialized expertise, and backlog planning.

Would you like the know the condition of your assets? We can help you make data-driven decisions about repairs, replacement, and maintenance. Increase your efficiency and gain peace of mind with a predictive maintenance model. Call us today.

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It’s True! We Have Fully Automated Feature Extraction

Access to high-quality data is essential to maintaining the integrity of your transportation assets, but ensuring your data is ready to use can be time-consuming and frustrating.  PILLAR’s proprietary automated feature extraction system (AFES™) delivers a truly automated solution. When you work with us, you’ll never have to spend countless hours formatting data, scrolling through overlapping pictures on your point cloud identifying, clicking, and linking assets. 

Fully Automated Feature Extraction

Maybe you’ve worked with a tool that promised automated extraction only to be disappointed with the results. While many companies claim to offer highly automated products, PILLAR is the only company to offer a true, fully automated feature extraction solution by employing mobile LiDAR to gather and AFES™ to process data.

Gather Data Faster

Our imagery scanning technology powers data collection at highway speeds to give you an impressive and detailed understanding at the street level. Our technology includes:

  • 360-degree spherical
  • 6 – 5MP cameras – 30MP
  • Drone aerial collection
  • Faster data collection: laser collection at posted speed limits enables the ability to scale.
  • Street-level imagery: snapshots of roadways during data collection.
  • Global view of infrastructure assets

Extract Features Instantly

We use machine learning, artificial intelligence, and computer vision to process your data as it is gathered. Our technology extracts more than 20 asset types from mobile LiDAR data, including but not limited to:

  • Signs
  • Bridge Clearances
  • Ditches
  • Guardrails
  • Mowing Acreage
  • Overhead Utilities
  • Trees
  • Striping

Your data is delivered in standard GIS formats, shape files, and geodatabases, but we’ve got system-specific formats covered too. You can easily convert data into system-specific formats through data integration and conversion. We also export data visualizations using a colorized point cloud, JPG, video files, and more so you have everything you need at your fingertips.

Contact Us Today

With fully automatic feature extraction of our mobile LiDAR, you’ll save time, money, and stress. If you’re ready to reduce cost and time up to tenfold, contact us today and set up your demonstration. 

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Early Spring is for Waterway Pipe Assessments

Out of sight, out of mind can be a costly error when it comes to your transportation assets. The health of your infrastructure is dependent on more than the condition of your visible assets. It relies on the functionality of an entire below-ground network of pipes and waterways that manage stormwater required to keep roadways safe.

The spring season is optimal to access and inventory underground systems and confined spaces due to the reduced vegetation. Known for its practical and innovative approach to data collection of above-ground assets, PILLAR leverages technology and staff expertise to make inventory and assessment of underground assets more efficient and complete.

Taking inventory

PILLAR’s Pipe Crawler robot safely and efficiently identifies pipe conditions and possible flaws. It’s portable, submersible, and can access areas, helping the operator see potential issues beyond human reach.

A complete inventory of underground assets makes digging associated with maintenance and construction safer and more efficient for municipalities and departments of transportation.

How to use the data

Once an underground assessment has been made, PILLAR can help you build out a project plan that takes pipe collection and management into account.

With pipe inventory and conditions stored in your geospatial software, you’ll be able to assess future project plans. The condition of drainage pipes and structures can help with resiliency plans, understand potential flaws in new sewer lines, and help map stormwater management.

Contact PILLAR today to find out how you can utilize the Pipe Crawler for your next project assessment.

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Harness the Power of Your Mobile LiDAR Data

Cut Confusion and Utilize Your Mobile LiDAR Data With CONFIDENCE

You’ve worked hard to collect data on your transportation assets and now it’s time to put that data to effective use in managing your transportation assets.  But how can you be sure your data is used in the most effective way possible?  We know this can feel confusing, especially if your mobile LiDAR data comes from different sources, techniques and technology and your data may be formatted differently. 

PILLAR can solve this problem. We aggregate and normalize data from many different sources (from paper to pdf to complex databases) and departments, giving your organization far greater flexibility and eliminating the need for costly recollection of data you already have.

Turn Mobile LiDAR Data Into INSIGHT

PILLAR has access to “Big DATA” that helps us utilize patterns and Artificial Intelligence to identify priorities and plans.  PILLAR will gather all the data files you have already collected, identify what technology generated the data, then audit it and identify a storage solution for optimal visualization for the end-user. We determine goals and help create visualization tools that provide decision-makers with accessible information at their fingertips.

What’s more, we format your data in such a way that allows your organization to analyze and compare it to other information sources. The resulting enhanced database will allow you to make more informed decisions based on more complete and interconnected information.

Turn Mobile LiDAR Insight Into ACTION

Now that you have your data in digestible and actionable form, how do you make it equally relevant to all your stakeholders? One common challenge agencies face is the Planner-Operator gap—and PILLAR can help!  We understand that planners and O&M field personnel rely on the same data to meet their objectives.  Our staff of professionals have been involved with Asset Management AND Maintenance Operations for decades and deeply understand how Planners and operators are interconnected through quality field data.

We bridge the gap between planners and operations by combining our engineering background with our practical field experience.  When we collect, assess, analyze and prioritize data, we employ well-defined objectives to ensure that data is easily actionable for all stakeholders.  With our help, planners and operators can work together seamlessly—saving you time and money. Feel confident that you are utilizing your mobile LiDAR data in the most effective way possible.  Contact us today!

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Meet the PILLAR Team Online and In-Person at Upcoming Events

Over the next few months, members of the PILLAR team will be on the road at various tradeshows and conferences. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn more about the company’s approach to infrastructure asset management and how it can help organizations save time, save money, and save lives.

Our unique approach merges technology with specialist expertise to maximize efforts, justify budgets, and reduce risk, thereby delivering greater sustainability and longevity of your transportation assets.

The PILLAR team would love to share more information with you. Make sure to say hello if you see us in person or online at one of these upcoming events.

If you’d like to discuss ways to save time, money, lives, and face (by preventing public outcry in the case of a disaster), contact us to schedule a meeting during one of these events at info@pillaroma.com or (276) 223-0500.

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Virginia State Highway Performance Ranking Leaps to #2 Nationally

The PILLAR Team congratulates the Virginia Department of Transportation for earning the nation’s #2 best highway performance ranking. Virginia operates the third-largest DOT network in the nation and handed in an impressive 19-position improvement in the 26th Annual Highway Report from the Reason Foundation.

Virginia moved up the ranks in several areas, including improving 24 positions for capital and bridge disbursements, improving 15 positions for maintenance disbursements, and improving 17 positions for urbanized area congestion.

Cost-effective Maintenance & Operations

Virginia’s highway system is considered one of the most cost-effective highway systems in the country.

“States with high ratings typically have better-than-average system conditions (good for road users) along with relatively low per-mile expenditures (good for taxpayers),” according to the Reason Foundation annual report.

PILLAR has been a trusted partner of VDOT for nearly 10 years, serving as its contractor for Statewide Maintenance Consulting Services.

“The PILLAR Team is proud to support VDOT in its continuous quest for excellence through best management practices and innovative transportation management solutions,” said PILLAR President Mark Boenke.

How PILLAR partners with VDOT

PILLAR supports VDOT in several ways, providing information that will save time, money, lives, and credibility.

A Penny Saved is A Penny Earned

PILLAR utilized its mobile LiDAR and conventional and traditional survey methods to gather dimensions on overhead signage that needed replacing in VDOT District 1. By defining accurate dimensions, PILLAR determined the existing support structure could be utilized for the new sign, saving significant time and money for VDOT.

Creating Efficiency from Field to Office

PILLAR georeferenced plan sheets to locate the position of pipes along the I-95 corridor in Caroline, Spotsylvania, and Stafford counties for VODT’s Fredericksburg District Office. This enabled VDOT field personnel to easily locate pipes when performing inspections. Ultimately, saving time and money.

Environmentally Friendly Asset Management Solutions 

PILLAR helped the VDOT Staunton District save $12.9 million in mitigation projects and nitrogen-credit purchases, also earning the district the Environmental Stewardship award. The efforts allowed VDOT to reallocate money to other critical needs throughout the district.

The project used an innovative approach. It took PILLAR’s LiDAR-based mapping for mowing management and helped save the district millions annually in converting interstate rights-of-way into pollinator habitats.

What PILLAR can do for you

What sets PILLAR apart is our CAPE approach.

That’s our Collection, Assessment, Planning, and Execution (CAPE) approach that intersects technology with our expertise to tailor asset management plans for program funding, public outcry, and improved services.

We advise state agencies and provide plans that avoid potential pitfalls and save money.

“Our staff augmentation helps improve knowledge and experience to achieve a high maintenance rating program (MRP) with average scores in the low-to-mid 90s,” Boenke said.

Contact PILLAR today to get started on improving your maintenance and performance rating.

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How to Calculate & Classify Mowable Area with LiDAR

Your agency has a lot of ground to cover. Literally. Municipalities and departments of transportation have acres and acres of land that need to be managed.

PILLAR can help assess the best way to tackle ground that might have to be mowed or best left unmowed and calculate the total mowable area and frequency or necessity of that upkeep.

This practice can help save your agency valuable cash, up to millions.

Mowing Frequency

Knowing what you need to maintain frequently and where to cut back can save millions in costs. Your agency will save in labor and equipment costs and heighten the safety of workers in high-traffic areas.

Certain areas benefit from a less frequent trim. Cutting tall grass and cutting back brush can improve visibility but may only have to be maintained once a year instead of cutting every few months.

The environmental benefits differ as well. If acreage is classified as an environmental benefit, your agency can receive credit toward mitigation and pollution reduction projects, such as pollinator or stormwater run-off programs.

When you contract with PILLAR, you’ll receive a full assessment of best practices.

How PILLAR Calculates & Classifies Mowable Area

PILLAR helps you get a better sense of what is needed for the land you manage.

We use image scanning and Mobile LiDAR, which can accurately inventory acreage that should be added to the total calculated mowable area. Additional access to land plats can help us determine if you can earn environmental stipends for mowing less frequently.

Our services also include an assessment of the terrain, so we can work with you to determine the types of equipment needed and the time and frequency required to maintain that acreage. That information also helps us parse and configure mowing patterns/swaths for full mows or partial mows.

After all the data is collected, we will work with your geospatial system of choice to integrate and normalize your mowing data.

The PILLAR team has more than 100 years of combined experience working with and for municipalities and departments of transportation. We know how to help classify environmental benefits and safety requirements needed to maintain your areas and keep the public safe.

Case Study

PILLAR was able to help Staunton earn $12.8 million in credits for pollution mitigation from our assessment of mowable acreage. Their practices earned them VDOT’s Staunton District’s Environmental Stewardship Award.

Learn how we can help you. Contact us today.

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A New Tool for PILLAR Infrastructure Asset Management’s Services

For years, PILLAR has been helping municipalities and departments of transportation manage and inventory infrastructure assets like signs, guardrail footage, mowing acreage, trees, striping, ditches, sewers, overhead utilities, and more.

Now we’ve added a new tool that will enable our clients to manage, visualize and assess underground pipes, sewers and waterways safely and efficiently.

The DeepTrekker 340 L Pipe Crawler is the latest tool in PILLAR’s arsenal, adding another layer of geospatial detail that we are able to capture in addition to Mobile LiDAR and our other capabilities.

Rugged and mobile

The Pipe Crawler is a robotic, remotely guided platform submersible up to 164-feet with tether options up to over 1,300-feet. It is extremely portable, breaking down into two cases, and easily deployed and operated.

A video camera with tilt, pan, and zoom capabilities can be attached to the body of the Pipe Crawler, allowing up-close, internal inspection of pipes to assess their condition and look for potential flaws. PILLAR can integrate the data collected with your organization’s asset management database, and recorded video can be directly uploaded to the asset management software.

The Pipe Crawler runs on batteries, as does the hand-held controller, making it a truly portable option for inspecting underground pipes almost anywhere.

A safer option

With the Pipe Crawler, we can help you get places that wouldn’t be safe or accessible for humans, and we can deploy quickly in emergency situations. We can save you money because you don’t have to wait for contractors or multiple people to inspect a pipe. And we can save you time by starting data collection instantly rather than waiting for jet or pump trucks or dealing with unexpected terrain disruptions.

The Pipe Crawler is a rugged modular system that allows us to customize it for your particular application, with a variety of options for wheels, elevating arms and cameras.

Contact PILLAR today to find out how we can put the Pipe Crawler to work for you.

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Work Smarter by Aggregating and Normalizing Your Asset Data

Technology has made creating a geospatial inventory of transportation assets far more accessible than it used to be. However, this asset data may be accumulated from many different sources and may have been collected using disparate techniques and technology, resulting in data that is formatted differently.

The inability of different systems to talk to each other often means that municipalities and departments of transportation frequently resort to recollecting data they already have because of a siloed department structure. This is costly and limiting.

But PILLAR can solve this problem. We can aggregate and normalize data from many different sources (from paper to pdf to complex databases) and departments, giving your organization far greater flexibility and eliminating the need for costly recollection of data you already have.

Getting started

PILLAR will gather all the data files you have already collected, identify what technology generated the data, then audit it and identify a storage solution for optimal visualization for the end-user. We determine goals and help create visualization tools that provide decision-makers with accessible information at their fingertips.

We will get your data into a format that will allow your organization to analyze your data and compare it to other information sources layering artificial intelligence over top of “Big Data.” The resulting enhanced database will allow you to make more informed decisions based on more complete and interconnected information.

In addition, a point cloud analysis powered by PILLAR AFES (automated feature extraction system) will let you provide asset data across your organization, integrating databases and streamlining processes to cut time and share costs.

We’ll help you create a truly useful geospatial inventory of transportation assets that can help determine your priorities, focusing on getting the best return on investment.

Contact PILLAR today so we can get started aggregating your data.