Know Where You’re Working With OnStation
The idea of OnStation was created in the living room of former Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) Transportation Engineer, Jake Bailosky, in 2014. He’d just finished reading “iOS App Development for Dummies” and wanted to put his skills to the test to resolve the all-too-common jobsite question, “Where are you?”
Several years later, the roadway location solution was officially launched on the Apple and Google Play app stores. Geared toward highway/road construction, OnStation has been used on more than 600 projects to date, totaling more than $12 billion in project value, and is used by more than 10 DOTs and more than 200 contractors.
“There’s no faster way to get your location when you’re out in the field,” said CEO Patrick Russo. “There’s no need to keep asking ‘Where are you?’ ‘What are you doing?’ ‘Where do I park?’ ‘Am I in the right location?’ ‘Where are the stakes?’ or ‘Are there any utilities where I’m at?’ If you know where you’re working on a project, the whole crew is able to be more productive, efficient, and safer.”
OnStation’s Automatic Station Finder feature delivers accurate project location information within 2 to 4 feet of accuracy, and location options include stationing, LRS, mile marker, and latitude/longitude.
OnStation Account Executive Dave Thomas reminds us that not all projects reference stationing. “Occasionally, the DOT will release a project that references mile-markers or mile posts and we’ve adapted the app to match those projects, too.”
Although jobsite locationing is the heart of OnStation, the app is also a centralized communication tool that can be used to correspond with others on a project across organizations and contractors/subcontractors.
“Knowing where you are on the project is the core of what we do,” Russo said. “Once OnStation solves that problem, there are a lot more advanced tools our users gain access to.”
The app can also be used to instantly access and view current project plans, specifications, and design drawings. Users can overlay any detailed linework, represented in the plans, onto the project map, simplifying the difficult task of matching PDF plans to live observation on site.
“If [the contractor] were using paper plans in the field, it would be much harder to figure out where they’re looking at on the road,” Russo said. “With OnStation, they can open the app and see their location immediately and compare it to whatever design layer they’d like to see. Any design elements included when the project was created can be overlaid on the map.”
For example, the president of a paving contracting company in Indiana woke up in the middle of the night with a fear that the location of a pipe might impact their work. “He was able to log into OnStation at 2:30 a.m. to find out that his worry was true and was then able to plan accordingly,” Thomas said.
The app’s Flag & Chat features enable realtime chat to record work-related notes and communication on the project. For example, users can drop a flag on any point of interest and collect notes with text or location-stamped pictures and video.
“Instead of taking pictures, adding them to a Word document, entering notes and location information, and saving it as PDF to drop into the project folder, the crew can take photos with auto-stamped date, time and location within OnStation and save them to the project folder in 15 seconds,” Thomas said, adding that they’ve strived to make the app easy. According to Thomas, the average user opens OnStation six times a day but for a very short period of time, to get their station, access plans or take a photo.
OnStation can also be used to mark the locations of density tests and core samples. For example, on a recent project in Indiana, the contractor created flags within OnStation for each core location along with notes and photos.
“Say there was a problem with the paver at that location that caused an area of low density, that information can be noted in OnStation and available for reference next month or next year,” Russo said. “If there’s a failure, it’s possible to go back to that conversation and get a quick bead on what happened.”
And the team behind OnStation isn’t done yet. In July, OnStation released a Stationing API feature to integrate with several leading e-ticketing systems, including FleetWatcher, with others to come.
“Currently, for projects using e-tickets, only a lat/lon is auto applied when that material is laid,” Russo said. “Since lat/lon is not an easily referenceable location, the contractor or DOT must manually enter the project’s specific station to know where that material is on the road. With OnStation, the e-ticket is automatically updated with the station information when the truck meets the paver.”
In July, OnStation also introduced a measuring tool within the app to allow users to capture linear and shape measurements. “If I know I’m supposed to get ‘x’ feet on a 2-inch compacted fill with a particular truck and I see with OnStation that it got me an extra 100 or 150 feet, that information is money in the bank to the paving contractor,” Russo said.
According to Thomas, new features for the app are heavily driven by users’ experiences and feedback. “We have a very engaged community of users ranging from road workers to engineers managing multiple projects to construction company CEOs who tell us what they like and don’t like,” he said. “We put in a lot of effort to make the app even better.”
Currently, OnStation is working to integrate with major industry software providers to automate the daily diary process on the job site. “With the old system, the daily diary process is usually done at the end of the week or the month and you’re having to try to remember what happened and when,” Russo said. “If you’re already gathering that information with OnStation and it’s time stamped, that can be your project record.”
“Some of our users may not go deeper than using OnStation as a roadway location solution, while others will want to use every feature we make available,” Russo said. Either way, he added, “OnStation gives you a more informed workforce on the job site.”
OnStation is available for Apple and Android, smartphone or tablet, and offers both online and offline access modes. For more information, visit onstationapp.com.