AASHTO Product Evaluation List

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USING THE POWER OF INTERNET TO ALLOW UNIVERSAL ACCESS AND EXPLOITING THE INCORPORATED FLEXIBILITY OF CUSTOMIZED WORKFLOW CREATION, APEL IS MINIMIZING THE REPETITION OF PRODUCT EVALUATION EFFORTS AND MAXIMIZING THE WIDESPREAD SHARING OF RESULTS.


Client


American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association representing highway and transportation departments in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Its primary goal is to foster the development, operation, and maintenance of an integrated transportation system that serves the nation.


Challenge


Vendors had been manufacturing products for the highways and transportation agencies since long. They were submitting products to different agencies as well in order to create a market for their brands and products. Agencies were also evaluating those products on vendor as well as internal staff requests in casual to slightly formal ways. The evaluations were done by various methods that include certification on the basis of established standards, demonstrations, laboratory and field testing to name a few. Some agencies were sharing the results with other agencies while others were keeping findings confidential. The sole purpose of these activities, however, was always to fairly and objectively evaluate products that could eventually benefit the operations of the agency.


Over the years several initiatives for standardizing the product evaluation process were taken by different agencies individually as well as through AASHTO. All initiatives were aimed to minimize the repetition of efforts and to maximize the sharing of results so that everyone could benefit from this.


Solution

In collaboration with AASHTO, iENGINEERING delivered AASHTO Product Evaluation List (APEL) application. It is a web based workflow application that provides a repository consisting of findings from the evaluation and testing of new and/or proprietary, engineered transportation products. This application allows for a product evaluation form to be submitted by the manufacturers to the relevant authorities. This application can then be routed from one relevant entity to the other to complete different stages of application acceptance and product evaluation. Once all stages are completed, the manufacturers are notified of the final decision and/or the evaluation outcome. E-mail notifications are sent out after completion of different steps to the relevant personnel.


The main purpose of the APEL web site was to allow State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) to automate their product evaluation system and share the evaluation results among different DOTs. The DOTs could define their own workflows, as near to their manual operations as possible, and have those set up on the web site for a smooth flow of activities. This web site also facilitates the vendors to submit their products to the State DOTs of their choice for evaluation.


Who is APEL Web Site for?


The APEL web site is for anybody who is involved in the product evaluation process. This includes vendors of products as well as members of the State DOTs that actually evaluate the products. Through this system new and innovative products can be submitted for evaluation. This system is especially suitable for the evaluation of products for which there are no established industry standards available. APEL web site provides all vendors with a fair chance to submit their products for evaluation.


APEL Approaches To Suit Client Needs


APEL allows flexibility for the State DOTs to use the system as they require. To furnish this, APEL offers different approaches in which the State DOTs (agencies) can function. These methods have been designed to suit specific needs of agencies. This allows for an easy transition from the State DOT’s traditional system to APEL. Details of these methods are as follows:

 

Manually Process Product Evaluations


Agencies registered to use the manual method can enter in all their product evaluation data in the system manually. This approach is suitable for agencies that want to keep following their manual methods for product evaluation but would like to keep an online record of the results. These online results can be shared with other agencies and/or vendors.


Import Product Evaluations


Agencies registered to use the import method can import their product evaluation data in the system using the XML data exchange. This approach is suitable for agencies that already have some kind of automated product evaluation system but would like to shift to the APEL web site.


Workflow Based Product Evaluations


Agencies registered to use the workflow method can benefit from the full blown functionality of the web site in order to fully automate their product evaluation process. Such agencies can define their own flow of operations (workflow) that can be configured on the web site to automate the process.


Technology


APEL is a data-driven web application that utilizes the Active Server Pages .NET (ASP.NET) and C# for server-side information processing. ActiveX Data Objects .NET (ADO.NET) technology is used for database connectivity and data retrieval. All APEL data is stored in a centralized SQL Server database. For importing product evaluation data into the system, XML technology is used. SMTP sends out the system and workflow e-mail messages to the desired recipients. All sensitive data is secured through advanced encryption algorithms. To highlight the APEL approach adopted by different agencies for their product evaluation processes, a graphical map control is created in Flash, which is displayed on the home page.


Additional Information


APEL can be accessed at http://apel.transportation.org/.
Contact the APEL administration at support@iengineering.com for additional information on the AASHTO Product Evaluation List project.


If you would like more information regarding the product/service described above or if you would like to implement a similar solution within your organization, please contact Riaz Ahmad at (703) 722-2980 or e-mail rahmad@iengineering.com.