Navigating the world of eTicketing is new and the path is not always clear. Before COVID entered the scene, many states’ Department of Transportation (DOTs) piloted eTicketing. Then the pandemic shifted their efforts into high gear when it came to replacing paper tickets.
Many states tried to find ways to avoid contact for jobsite crews and drivers by opening HMA eTicketing beyond their pilots. Now that things have settled down, many states are no longer requiring HMA eTicketing, even if they still allow HMA eTicketing.
The ambiguity makes it difficult for construction professionals to know whether finding an eTicketing software will be a smart business decision long-term.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what type of work DOTs are requiring electronic ticketing for (paving, transporting material, etc.) what information they expect to see from a tech solution, the benefits of an HMA eTicketing solution and where the industry seems to be headed.
Hint: It doesn’t look like HMA eTicketing is going away anytime soon.
HMA eTicketing: A Clear Focus for State DOTs
Every state DOT is able to create its own rules and regulations when it comes to eTicketing and it seems that they are focusing their attention on the products that are the most time-sensitive and require extensive quality control. This means Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) is on everyone’s radar.
If you are reading this article, you are likely pretty familiar with HMA, but let’s go over some of the basics. HMA is an asphalt binder; aggregate material and air that is blended to produce a specific quality product used for paving. There are different types of aggregates and binders that can be leveraged but we’ll keep it at this high level for the purposes of this article.
HMA is a widely used material for paving, performing maintenance or repairs, and surface corrections because it is relatively cheap and quick to lay down. That being said, there are a number of ways that an HMA paving project can go wrong - that is why state DOTs have engineers and inspectors that are heavily involved in HMA work -- therefore, they are also highly involved in HMA e Ticketing.
Generally speaking, inspectors are looking for the following from an HMA project:
- Fatigue Resistance
- Skid Resistance
- Binder Content
There are such strict quality rules in place in regards to the material and temperature (to name a few things), it is no wonder that state DOTs want to transfer to HMA eTicketing, away from paper tickets. HMA eTicketing can save time and paper, while also ensuring accurate data. Most states that are tackling HMA eTicketing head-on are doing so through “Special Provisions.” The provisions outline:
- What is being considered?
- Why is it being considered?
- What type of equipment must be used?
- How is it expected to be implemented in the field?
These special provisions provide an outline but don’t always include a tangible way to find out if they apply to you -- or which software provider you should use. If you are interested in skipping ahead, you can click here for help Finding a Software Partner.
Critical Electronic Ticketing Information Your Software Should Provide
There are a few software options to choose from when it comes to HMA eticketing. It is important to select one that will meet all of your state’s requirements, meet your business needs, and the needs of everyone at the project site. For example, two solutions could both meet the state DOT requirements; however, one may require you to install equipment in each vehicle -- if you leverage third-party haulers (hired haulers) this option may not be the best for your business. An option that requires a mobile app (to be used on a smartphone) would be a better fit.
Regardless of the system you choose, there are four main steps that go into an HMA eTicketing system and you’ll want to be sure your provider offers all of them so you’re staying compliant and providing agencies with the right information.
Step 1: The Order Confirmation
Order Confirmation helps keep everyone (including agencies and contractors) in sync in order to reduce the chance of error and unnecessary rework and includes the following information:
- Material and quantity ordered
- Scheduled delivery start time
- Estimated tons/loads per hour
- Anticipated completion time
- Delivery location
Step 2: Real-time Delivery Tracking
DOTs want to see what is happening, in real-time. Getting a system with built-in GPS tracking for your dump trucks is critical. In addition to location, GPS tracking will provide you information about:
- How much of your order has been delivered to the project site
- The scale ticket number, quantity, and load time for each truck (including dump trucks) carrying your order
- How many trucks are carrying your order
- The current location and direction of travel of in-progress loads
- The hauler name, truck type, truck ID, and ETA of the load to the project
Step 3: Confirmation & HMA eTicket
This step eliminates the need for handling and managing paper tickets. It means that you will have digital access to the following information:
- View the exact location of each truck and delivery relative to the project drop-zone/geofence
- View the HMA eTicket uploaded directly from the scale
- Enter, track, and view optional inspection results, notes, and reject loads if the temperature or quality is not as expected
Step 4: The Daily Summary
The daily summary reduces the amount of time it takes to collect and reconcile scale tickets to invoices for payment. The information you and the DOT will be expecting to see is:
- Ticket date and time
- Quarry/plant location
- Product and quantity
- Delivery location and notes
- And more depending on your software provider
Each state is a little bit different and so is the information they require. If you have specific questions or challenges, be sure to connect with your state DOT representative, a representative from your local road builders' association, or a technology provider with knowledge of your state’s e ticketing requirements.
The Clear Benefits of HMA eTicketing Over Paper Tickets
For most, e Ticketing is only being considered by owners and managers of fleets (including dump trucks) because it is mandated by their state. However, there are some clear benefits of HMA eTicketing that have nothing to do with the DOT requirements. Whether you’re looking for a solution that meets your DOTs needs, or you see the writing on the wall when it comes to eliminating paper tickets and are looking to adopt a solution early -- here are some of the direct and indirect benefits you can expect from an e ticketing system.
Direct Benefits of HMA eTicketing
- Streamlined compliance
- Compliance with state DOT guidelines
- Reduction in errors & fraud
- Elimination of double-entry
- Improved data accuracy
- Business Intelligence (data capture & analysis)
Indirect Benefits of e-Ticketing:
- Improved visibility for all parties and involved agencies
- Real-time data & reporting
- Reduction in time & effort
- Creation of a single “source of truth”
- Cost savings
As an added bonus, if you leverage a complete logistics solution provider for your HMA eTicketing software, the expense of the software does not have to be a pass-through cost to your customers. You have the ability to create ROI.
There won’t be any direct return on investment (ROI) related to eTicketing as a standalone option but when paired and working with a complete logistics solution, you can get up to a 12x return on your investment.
Let’s break down the working features of e ticketing that can generate ROI from a complete logistics system.
Leverage electronic means to optimize your current dispatch resources. Save dispatchers energy with drag and drop technology to assign work, manage order progress, track a truck, and pivot on a dime - when need be (and we all know how often plans change).
Actively Manage Orders
With a complete logistics solution, you can assign orders based on haulers’ actual utilization and capacity. If you want to learn more about utilization, you can check out this helpful article to understand how asset utilization impacts your business.
Monitor each order’s location and progress, for each truck you own, in real-time and adjust as needed, when needed. Finally, you can even view and optimize trucker cycle times for all loads.
Cycle Time Analytics
Many companies that are interested in leveraging data to make decisions focus on cycle time. However, that often comes down to sending out an intern with a clipboard into the field, counting trucks, marking times down with pen and paper, and providing results that way. There’s lots of room for error and inaccurate information. Additionally, those numbers need to be transcribed into a digital spreadsheet to really understand them.
What if you could track your company-owned and third-party trucking (while they are clocked in) on your jobs? A robust logistics system will allow you to view truck location, relative speed, time-stamp the route taken, relay current traffic conditions, the material load status & more. Monitor cycle time at the plant, in transit, at a project, and round trip -- all in real-time and historically.
Where Are Things Headed?
The Federal Highway Administration’s Center for Accelerated Innovation has identified HMA eTicketing as one of its “Every Day Counts Initiatives” for 2021-2022, stating that eTicketing improves the tracking, exchange, and archiving of materials tickets.
With federal attention focused on HMA eTicketing, it is likely that digital load slips and eTickets won’t be going anywhere, and many agencies may be requiring them more and more.
While states are all responsible for their own eTicketing programs right now, there is always the potential for the federal government to step in if they feel it is in the best interest of the US DOT to ensure HMA eTicketing programs are adhered to in each state.
Another potential option in the future is that eTicketing may expand beyond HMA. There are already rumblings that eTicketing will eventually apply to other material, including aggregates.
Find A Partner That Can Provide HMA eTicketing and Streamline Your Operations
If you know you’ll need an HMA eTicketing solution and are beginning to look for a software partner, there are a few things to consider. Providing they understand the requirements for your state and can meet them should be at the top of your list.
Beyond that, make sure you know whether you’ll need to install hardwired devices into each of your vehicles to stay compliant. If you own your entire fleet, that may not be an issue but if you rely on hired trucking this could be a deal-breaker.
Finally, understand that eTicketing in and of itself is unlikely to bring you a return on your investment. If your solution offers HMA eTicketing as a stand-alone solution, you’ll likely need to pass the software cost through to your customers. There are options available that offer HMA eTicketing as part of a complete solution -- that is where you can start to see a return on your investment.
Trux offers HMA eTicketing capabilities as part of a complete logistics solution, allowing your team to dispatch, manage orders, communicate with haulers in real-time, and take advantage of data and analytics to optimize your team’s performance over time.
What would it mean to your operations to get one more load per dump truck each day? What about saving 10 minutes per truck per day? Over the course of time, eliminating paper tickets adds up.
If you’re interested in learning more about our HMA eTicketing system or how you can improve your operations and standing with logistics software, set up a demo today. With a quick demo you’ll know whether our logistics software solution could be a good fit for your business.
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