It all started about four years ago, when the geotechnical engineering manager at Southern Earth Sciences, Inc. (SESI) came back from a GBA conference. He brought the idea of a technology solution that would help improve their efficiency in construction materials testing to SESI’s corporate team.
“We knew that it was time to make a change to keep up with technology to be more streamlined,” said Matt Coaker, P.E., Geotechnical Engineering Manager. “We knew that we could be much more efficient in what we did—specifically in CMT—by bringing a system like MetaField on board.”
Southern Earth Sciences, Inc. (SESI) is based in Mobile, AL with a staff of about 175 employees. They offer geotechnical, environmental and construction materials testing and serve the Gulf Coast region from Baton Rouge, LA to Tallahassee, FL.
Since Coaker first started coming to the GBA conferences about five or six years ago, he’s met up with Agile Frameworks to get to know the MetaField product. With oversight of construction materials testing, Coaker knew that SESI could improve their efficiency and profitability by having a single solution that incorporates both field and lab management activities.
According to Coaker, the most important feature is collecting data on tablets or smartphones right in the field. “It removes the step of having guys in the field fill out paper forms and then have admin staff recreate that data for reports,” said Coaker. “We can have it in one step in the field with the technology of the tablets. I would say it easily reduces reporting time by 30 to 40% by eliminating having to recreate the paper logs or from the paper logs having to generate new reports.”
The efficiency improvements that SESI has seen in the construction materials testing department is influencing their decision to expand use of MetaField to other services offered by the firm that could benefit from it. They are taking it one step at a time because it can be difficult to get people to change their work habits, especially the field team. “It takes time to get the field level guys on board because there is a bit of a learning curve. So that’s been a challenge,” said Coaker.
“Each year as people are getting comfortable with it, we’re implementing it in new ways. We’re definitely going to keep working towards having our entire system working off MetaField,” said Coaker.