Since its founding in 1996, Arias & Associates has been leveraging technology to provide geotechnical engineering and construction materials testing services that meet and exceed their client’s needs.
Back in the early 2000s, Arias & Associates knew there had to be a way to capture field data on a laptop or phone and send it back to the office for analysis and review. They had discussed developing something themselves, but they knew it wasn’t in their wheelhouse.
They looked at early prototypes of MetaField® in 2010 and 2011 but were not ready to purchase because of other technology initiatives. In 2012, Arias & Associates signed on as an Agile Frameworks’ customer.
“The big reason we went with MetaField was because it was cloud-based. And it had all the right bells and whistles,” said Jeremy Arias, vice president.
Arias & Associates has used MetaField on all their projects since October 2012. With the implementation of MetaField’s web-based technology, each Arias field technician and project manager has a smart phone handheld device to input, review and send data (based on permission settings) in the MetaField platform.
All Arias project managers also have access to MetaField on a desktop, complete with dashboard and notifications when new tests are entered on one of their projects.
Once test data is entered by the field technician, the project manager can view/review the results in real time, provide quality control of the field information and test results, generate, and sign test reports. And then deliver reports to the client and other project team members electronically.
According to Jeremy Arias, one of the key benefits of the MetaField platform is the efficiencies the firm has realized.
“We’ve been able to maintain the staff size in terms of administrative assistants. The existing staff took in a lot more work before we had to add more staff. That and printing costs were cut in half, at least, maybe more.”
Gordon Koenig, senior CMT project and technical manager, finds the MetaField platform structure as a true database very useful versus a bunch of independent reports.
“I’ve been able to create a custom report with all the densities for storm drain backfills. That capability, in and of itself, is one thing that sets MetaField far above other solutions that I’ve seen.”
John Landwermeyer, managing principal, Austin operation agrees.
“We are tasked at the end of a job with certifying that the jobs are complete and that all non-conformances have been resolved. I can easily extract the soil density or concrete data, look at the moving averages, and see if we have a basis for acceptance. It’s all right in MetaField rather than flipping through a file one paper at a time.”
The test reports typically have been delivered within 24 hours after data collection, and as quickly as 10 minutes after data collection in critical instances. This has allowed the contractors to accelerate soils and base placement, asphalt placement, rework/retesting, and acceptance of critical portions of work to allow progression of the schedule; all without compromising the integrity of the quality assurance and/or quality control programs.
“MetaField has helped us to significantly increase the speed of report turnaround. We used to average a five to seven-day turnaround on a density report, for example, or maybe three or four days on a concrete break,” said Koenig. “Now, concrete breaks and density reports are almost always coming out the next day on average.”
The ability to rapidly turnaround a report is multi-faceted.
“To get a report turned around quickly, you’ve got to not only have the ability for the technician to report his data from the field into the cloud, but the lab must be able to communicate with the technician by giving the technician the specific proctor values, and the project manager needs to be able to populate the specifications,” said Landwermeyer. “With all those things happening in MetaField, the technician has all of the best and up-to-date information right in his hand. I’ve got this expression, ‘yesterday’s data, today.’ We are generally able to achieve this with MetaField, and it’s a motto that drives us.”
“I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on the report turnaround. In some isolated instances, when there have been issues on a project site, I’ve been able to be at the site and produce a report while I’m standing there. This immediately puts all of their issues to bed and helps the client—whether it’s the contractor or owner—move the project forward immediately,” said Koenig. “I have gotten some large jobs recently because we have been consistent and fast with our report delivery. Even though we may not hear a lot of client feedback on report turnaround, I know it’s noticed out there, and it has paid dividends for us.”
According to Landwermeyer,
“MetaField, at the end of the day, is a communication tool. Whether it’s communicating a failed result or communicating a change of schedule. MetaField helps us do that.”
“The one thing I’ve always enjoyed is having an inside line with Agile Frameworks and being able to candidly call, email, or submit a ticket and talk with somebody about any issues we’re having. We are able to work with the Agile team to find the best resolution,” said Koenig. “Overall, ya’ll have done a great job of making us feel like you are servicing our individual needs while keeping everybody else in mind too.”
“Growing with each other is very important. If our business gets more complex with needs for different tests in different environments with the different agencies we work for, we can continue to work with Agile Frameworks to help improve MetaField,” said Chris Martinez, marketing and business development manager. “That’s what we want to do moving forward.”
“We’ve been seeing more growth in the last couple of years—beyond what we had imagined,” said Jeremy Arias. “We’re expecting to see that continue and as part of that growth we view MetaField as a valuable tool in our toolbelt.”