This article was originally published in the May edition of Roads & Infrastructure Magazine.

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Asset Vision

How Ventia is using Asset Vision's intelligent platform to enhance the management of road assets for its Australian Transport clients. Roads & Infrastructure reports.

As a provider of essential infrastructure services, Ventia's Transport teams are often first on the ground during natural disasters helping to keep roads, tunnels and airports open and operating safely.

When recent floods hit southern Queensland, multiple road sections were impacted and required urgent repairs.

Luckily, for the Ventia team of inspectors and site crew responsible for managing and inspecting a large road network in South East Queensland, they had an intelligent smart system in place to help them act quickly.

The Ventia team worked in shifts to provide support 24/7 to ensure more than 3,000 lane kilometres across the south coast road network was made safe for all road users.

Ventia has supported one of its major Transport clients in South East Queensland since 2013, providing asset management services, road pavement and drainage maintenance activities, as well as a significant program of road rehabilitation across Queensland's southeast coast state and national road network. The network covers three local government areas, namely the City of Gold Coast, the City of Logan and the Scenic Rim Regional Council.

In 2020, the Ventia team was looking for innovations that would enhance its road maintenance operations. That's when the team became aware of Asset Vision.

Andrew Spence, Ventia's Program Manager for Queensland Transport South Coast says the Australian platform caught his eye early in the contract.

"We came across Asset Vision, which had been adopted by the Victorian Department of Transport years ago, and more recently by Transport for NSW," says Spence.

Ventia differentiates through our client focus, innovation and commitment to sustainability. We always challenge ourselves to improve and deliver better outcomes and Asset Vision was aligned to this," Spence adds.

Asset Vision's Software as a Service (SaaS) platform, the brainchild of Co-Founder and CEO Damian Smith, was developed and launched in 2010 to help road maintenance contractors across Australia digitise their field works and move away from manual, pen and paper processes.

Asset Vision's all-in-one intelligent asset management platform enables asset owners, maintainers and sub-contractors to be connected and handle different aspects of road-related asset maintenance. This ranges from data and defect capture using Artificial Intelligence (AI), field inspections to asset inventory, work order management, resource planning and consumption, and maintaining and reporting compliance KPIs.

After a demonstration phase and a successful trial of the solution, the Ventia team was keen to start using Asset Vision for one of its Queensland projects. In fact, Spence says the platform offered more than what the team had expected.

When we met with the team at Asset Vision, the capabilities ticked all our boxes. The platform was also customisable to fit our evolving needs.

Benefits for Ventia

One feature of Asset Vision's platform the Ventia team found very useful was the ease with which their inspectors could now assign jobs to crews.

"The fact that inspectors could send the job directly to the crew created efficiencies allowing us to be more responsive for our clients and the local communities we serve," says Spence.   

The 'CoPilot' feature in Asset Vision's smart platform was another attractive option for Ventia. Using this tool, inspectors can complete their road inspections without having to take their hands off the wheel or stop their vehicle. The inspector's smartphone, which is mounted to the dashboard, is triggered by a smart Bluetooth button attached to the steering wheel to capture photos, linking them with the defect's precise location. The application can also listen for voice narration from the inspector for keywords to classify the defect or hazard in the system.

With teams often driving along remote regional roads, access to internet was not always guaranteed. Asset Vision's capability to mark the location of each defect using GPS coordinates and the fact the app works completely offline was another bonus for Ventia.

Safety is Ventia's number one promise, so the CoPilot capability was a natural fit with our safety culture," says Spence.

There was a suite of other seemingly small, but critical, options that led the Ventia team to adopt Asset Vision.

"The ability to load inspection routes into the platform, visualise the network using the mobile app as the inspections are being undertaken and generate inspection reports automatically has helped change the game for our inspectors out on the road," says Spence.

"We have also since created templates to report on the day's activities. This has made our reporting easier and more user-friendly. The team at Asset Vision has proven track record of working in this space and understands our core needs. They are aligned in building cost-effective and innovative outcomes for Ventia and our clients," adds Spence.

entia has been successfully rolling out the Asset Vision platform to its road projects nationwide.

Extension to other projects

In September 2021, Ventia was awarded a contract to provide maintenance services for pavement and roadside assets across over 100 kilometres of a prominent Queensland airport's landside and airside road network.

According to Spence, the three-year contract extends Ventia's innovative approach to asset maintenance, enhanced through the Asset Vision platform.

Ventia has been able to leverage the Asset Vision platform to provide enhanced asset inspection and management services to its new client.

"A challenge for our client was large volumes of data being stored in different spots," says Spence.

Spence says the Ventia team has already been able to combine data into relevant layers in Asset Vision, separating landside and airside data and even verifying existing drainage systems to ensure correct data is fed into the system.

"With all our projects, we take the time to verify existing data, making sure that what is imported into the system is correct. By spending time to assign the right attributes to the asset register, it makes our job of reporting on the assets more streamlined," he says.

Since 2021, following Asset Vision's successful establishment into Ventia's South East Queensland contracts, Ventia has been rolling the platform out to road projects nationwide.

"This is testament to the platform's capability to adapt to multiple contract scopes," say Spence.

"With recent integration into Ventia's SAP environment, we have an integrated asset management and financial management 'reporting' system," Spence adds.

Increasingly, the scope of Ventia's transport contracts include the maintenance of technology such as CCTV cameras, electronic school zone signage, variable message signs and vehicle detection systems.

Asset Vision is a natural fit for intelligent road infrastructure, says Damian Smith, Co-Founder and CEO of Asset Vision.

"As road networks become more intelligent with sensors, cameras, smart signage and vehicle detection systems, road maintenance contractors are increasingly required to service all aspects of the road corridor. Our Asset Vision Platform is well positioned to meet and exceed these needs," says Smith.

A vision to the future

Asset Vision has recently taken its asset management technology to a new intelligent level, with the company completing the acquisition of an Australian-developed intelligent data capture technology that automatically detects both road defects and asset inventory through video footage and artificial intelligence.

Using this technology, vehicle-mounted cameras can capture video as the inspector drives along a road. The video is then uploaded to a cloud environment where it is analysed using AI and machine learning to detect road defects, from simple cracking to potholes. Roadside assets such as pits, wire rope barriers and signage can also be recognised, and all data can be readily shared and integrated with Asset Vision's existing platform or other applications as needed.

Asset Vision shows no sign of slowing down when it comes to innovation. An upcoming new feature will see the Asset Vision mobile app continuously capture images of the road inspection through the inspector's mounted smartphone. The images are then recorded for audit purposes, as well as analysed through Asset Vision's newly acquired AI engine.

"We're calling it AutoPilot, and it is something our team and clients are very excited about," says Smith.

"On a practical level, having visual, geotagged, time stamped evidence to prove your inspection took place is valuable in of itself, but having the photos show the visual condition of the road at a point in time is worth its weight in gold when it comes to settling claims. The AI piece to recognise potholes and cracking to help provide asset management insights is the icing on the cake"

Spence says the Ventia team has already seen great improvements in the quality of reporting.

Our clients have been impressed with the visibility they have gained across their assets. With the new AI capabilities added to Asset Vision, it's exciting to see what more innovations the future holds for us.