If civil and geotechnical engineers want to design more resilient roadways, they should have the best available technology at their disposal.
As the industry gets smarter about creating resilient infrastructure, it is getting a boost from technology that has long benefited others. For example, project delivery software and asset management software leverages the cloud to make staff mobile and empower them with sophisticated tools that align with how they work. Now those who design and build roads can take advantage of similar digital tools to create high-performance pavement in a way that not only saves time and money but also aligns with how engineers think and work.
Design Empowered by Technology
Thanks to the cloud, engineers can now design pavement from anywhere—set free from the desktop. In the field, engineers can use a tablet or phone to quickly adjust inputs and see the results of any changes they propose to make to a design. Secure, web-based access via the cloud lets engineers work the way they want to and where they are.
Stabilizing a subgrade, passing a proof roll, designing asphalt pavement or an unpaved road or working platforms is easier than ever. Available tools help users to understand the total value of each design alternative, such as a stabilized solution versus an unstabilized solution, including initial and lifecycle cost savings, time savings, and sustainability metrics.
Civil and geotechnical engineers, empowered with the right technology, can evaluate and optimize the performance of pavement over a variety of subgrade conditions; easily compare design alternatives, including geotextiles and/or geogrids for subgrade stabilization versus conventional construction; and determine cost and time differences.
Look for software that works the way an engineer does, following a logical progression through the design process: investigation, conceptual design, review, final design, specifications, and bid. Also, make sure the software has been tested by actual users—civil engineers, geotechnical engineers, contractors, and owners.
The software should be based on industry-accepted design methodologies, such as the AASHTO ’93 methodology for properly incorporating geogrids into pavement design. Another example is the Giroud-Han methodology for soft soil stabilization and unpaved road design. Underlying calculations and all the underlying benefit factors should be compliant. Whatever the software approach, make sure that it has undergone rigorous full-scale testing and validation by third-party experts on that particular design method.
One of the most powerful capabilities—and most vital requirements of any design project—is the output. Software should allow users to generate custom specifications and reports for each design as well as high quality visuals for client presentations, and to share designs with colleagues directly from the software platform for improved collaboration.
Resilient Roads Result from the Best Designs
Resilient roads begin with the ground beneath the pavement. Fueled by advances in cloud-based software that is tailored for the purpose, civil and geotechnical engineers can evaluate and optimize the design of roadways and other site works.
What is truly beneficial is engineers, contractors, and owners gain insight into the full value of a pavement design, based not only on performance versus initial cost, but also lifecycle cost, time savings, and sustainability.
When pavement designers are fully empowered with the best available technology, the result is higher performing roads.
About the Author
Paul Schmitz is the market manager, public roads, Tensar Corp.