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Applications of RFID and other wireless technologies for highway construction


Transportation is one of the largest and the most critical sectors in the US. It must continuously meet traveling public demands by adding new infrastructure as well as maintaining and operating existing infrastructure. All these are investment intensive requirements and managing them appropriately typically requires a significant amount of funds. While efforts are made to manage specific activities in a highway construction project efficiently, emerging and innovative technologies that can help are currently not utilized to the fullest capacity. Consequently, activities such as material management, labor management, quality management, operations, safety, and maintenance have seen limited improvements due to the lack of technology use in the management of resources and performance for highway construction.

The Success of transportation construction projects largely depends on resource management, safety, and meeting quality expectations. Resources requiring diligent management are material, labor, space (the project site), equipment, finances, and time. These resources are required at the right time, at the right place and in right quantities. While these resources are in use, safety must be ensured. Once used, the utilized resource must achieve the expected quality outcomes. Sub-optimally managed resources, having unsafe conditions and inefficient quality management approaches, could significantly impact project performance. Therefore, the use of technologies such as radio-frequency identification (RFID), e-ticketing, and global positioning systems and associated components have the ability to improve the efficiency of managing highway construction project resources and performance.


Advancement in sensing and transmitting technologies has significantly improved wireless transmission technology. Wireless transmission technology enables sensing, counting, measuring, documenting, identifying, locating and transmitting information in real time. These features can help project managers to manage cost, time, quality, and safety of any project effectively. However there exists a significant difference between wireless technologies’ acceptance versus the expected acceptance and use. Therefore, the objective of this research is to bridge the gap between the existing technology buy-in and the beneficial application to the transportation industry as well as develop guidance for DOTs to use wireless technologies effectively and efficiently in managing resources and performance for highway construction.


Some of the benefits realized while using wireless technologies for construction include, 1) Reduced time for locating and tracking materials/equipment; 2) Hassle free documentation of operations, maintenance, repair history and warranty claims; 3) Availability of onsite operational support through availability of personnel data, timekeeping, fleet management and progress status; 4) Instant and easy data availability to decision makers and administrative staff, 5) Reduced paper work and related hassles, and 6) Convenient digital data storage, analysis and transfer.


The following tasks are identified to be performed in this research study:

Task 1: Identify best practices across construction supply chain and the life cycle of the project.

Task 2: Create standards for use within the construction industry for seamless data integration, collection and transfer amongst various project and supply chain participants.

Task 3: Research the advancements in tracking technologies and use them in construction industry through pilot projects. This could generate construction industry’s interest in adopting these techniques.

Task 4: Develop methods to analyze the data and optimize the techniques for reducing the overall cost.

Task 5: Disseminate the knowledge gained about innovative uses, advantages and limitations spanning across the supply chain and life cycle of construction projects.

Task 6: Develop secured systems to minimize risks of data breach and fraudulent practices.


This research will enable bridging the gap between the existing technologies and their application to the construction industry. Establishment of construction industry standards and identification of best practices will be one of the major outcomes of this research. Other outcomes include creating awareness within construction industry, identifying (or developing) analytical and optimization tools and reducing the potential risks.

Sponsoring Committee:AFH10, Construction Management
Research Period:24 - 36 months
Research Priority:Medium
RNS Developer:Deepak Sharma (CSU-Fullerton), Katherine Weisner (FHWA)
Source Info:TRB AFH10 - Standing Committee on Construction Management
Date Posted:01/06/2017
Date Modified:08/08/2018
Index Terms:Road construction industry, Materials, Radio frequency identification, Tracking systems, Project management, Construction management,
Cosponsoring Committees:ABJ50, Information Systems and Technology
Administration and Management
Data and Information Technology

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