Product Update

Published on: April 25, 2013

The Task Force will be posting regular product updates to keep all AASHTO Bridge Management Software (Pontis) users apprised of recent activity related to the development of the software. The Task Force is committed to providing these regular updates to help improve communication between the Task Force and those interested in the product. Please check the About page for links to all updates.

The first product update focuses on items from the January meeting of the Bridge Products Task Force which was held in San Diego, CA the week of January 28, 2013. The Task Force and Bentley completed many necessary tasks to keep the software development moving forward. The following is a summary of the key items:

Technical Review Team Meeting

The Task Force and Bentley representatives met with select representative members of the TRT group prior to the January Task Force meeting to discuss deterioration modeling and project planning. Both of these are important components of BrM 5.2, and are being planned thoroughly with BrM users in mind. Bentley is working to develop a series of functional design specifications (FDSs) for Task Force review and approval to outline and describe these features within the context of the software. These FDSs must be reviewed and approved by the Task Force before development can begin.

Deterioration Modeling Discussion

The new deterioration models will use a hybrid Weibull Curve and Markov model for deterioration. The new model will “estimate” the time that an element has been in the early condition states using model parameters. This enhancement will allow the software to know how many years are expected before the element moves to condition state 2. Once in state 2, the model will revert back to the Markov deterioration approach that has been used historically. Since so much of an elements life is spent in condition state 1, these changes are expected to improve the overall predictive capability of the new deterioration models.

Other key decisions made during the TRT meeting include:

  • Discussion on default “shaping parameters” for the Weibull curve
  • Decision to break the project planning effort into two part; project tracking and bridge/project analysis

Task Force Meeting

During this meeting the Task Force approved both the FY2014 Maintenance, Support and Enhancement (MSE) work plan, as well as the 5.2.2 Project work plan submitted by Bentley. Approval of these documents and subsequent execution of the contracts will ensure the continued design and development of the BrM 5.2 software will remain on schedule under the guidance of the Task Force, with input and direction from the Technical Review Team (TRT).

The release of 5.1.3 was an important topic of discussion during our meeting. The TAG is in their 5th iteration of Beta testing. We are anticipating the TAG’s approval for this release to occur in the near future, and the availability of 5.1.3 to the community to occur shortly thereafter. Please keep an eye out for a notification of its acceptance.

A workplan for the incorporation of Goggle mapping functions into BrM was reviewed and comments provided by the Task Force. The revised workplan was subsequently approved for development during a Task Force conference call. The mapping feature would allow agencies to plot/view their bridges on a map and change visual options as needed (i.e., Street view). Additionally, this feature would allow agencies to reposition the plotted point for each bridge using click and drag functionality.

A workplan for enhancements to the software API was discussed. This enhancement will bring a number of benefits to the product, specifically supporting easier user customization and third party software plug-ins. Additionally this enhancement is expected to improve the development of the 5.2 content.

The Task Force and development team are currently focused on delivering the last phase of 5.2.1, Phase 1C. Phase 1C will calculate and store the utility benefit of user defined actions. This phase of the work is expected to allow agencies to determine the “benefit” of proposed inspector work candidates and identify actions that have not been recommended by inspectors that would yield significant benefit. Upon its completion, 5.2.1 will undergo a full beta testing phase with the TAG. The Task Force will continue to keep the BrM user community informed on the progress of release 5.2.1 as progress continues.

Draft Element Inspection Manual

The Task Force also discussed the draft AASHTO Manual for Bridge Element Inspection 2013. This draft manual is scheduled for vote at the June AASHTO meeting. A number of changes are being proposed including the expansion of the number of defects that can be applied to various element and the incorporation of a number of new elements. Task Force members were actively involved with the development of this new manual and have been working to ensure that BrM is ready to accept the new elements once approved and that the new elements work seamlessly with the new models and analysis features currently being planned and developed. The Task Force also discussed the impacts of these changes on the element migration software. The Task Force has requested that our development team review the database structure for the element inspection information and make recommendations for necessary changes to accommodate the new elements if approved at the June AASHTO meeting. The Task Force is sensitive to the existing element inspection history that many states have and will be looking for methods to migrate existing data if a database change is required to accommodate the new element manual.

Task Force Staffing

The Task Force would like to thank Francois Ghanem from New York for his years of service on the Task Force. Francois has been an active user and Task Force member for many years and his involvement in the product has been of significant benefit to all users of the BrM product. Francois will be transitioning off the Task Force upon the delivery of the 5.1.3 software.
The Task Force would also like to thank Ralph Phillips for his service over the past several years. Ralph is retiring from the Connecticut DOT and will be leaving the Task Force after the mid April meeting. We wish Ralph all the best in his retirement.

AASHTO has approved the appointment of two new Task Force members to replace Francois and Ralph. Please welcome Eric Christie from Alabama and Bruce Novakovich from Oregon as the newest Task Force members. Both Eric and Bruce were selected in part based on their involvement with the Technical Review Team and Testing Technical Advisory Group work. Users interested in potential future Task Force positions are encouraged to take active roles in the TRT and/or TAG to prepare themselves for potential future appointments.

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