Penn Line Accelerates Turnaround Time by 80% with GoCanvas

By GoCanvas Team on November 20, 2022

Penn Line Service Company Overview

Situated in Scottdale, PA, Penn Line Service is a construction services company that has been operating for 80 years. They currently employ over 1,500 employees and generate over $250M annually. Some of Penn Line’s core capabilities include building commercial power and data systems, power line construction, erosion control, and guide rail installation.

Dave Cramer, the Project Coordinator for the Roadside, Reclamation, and Landscape division of Penn Line, has been with the company for 7 years. He oversees the material planning and purchasing of the business unit, which generates over $80M in annual revenue.

Since discovering GoCanvas five years ago, Dave has been steadily improving process efficiencies at Penn Line, despite having no previous systems, networking, or applications experience. What started as a simple form build and some reference data files for a pilot project, has evolved into real-time visibility to fieldwork through GoCanvas’ integration with SmartSheet, and 6 hours a week saved on the team’s invoicing process with GoCanvas Analytics

But what prompted Dave to adopt GoCanvas in the first place?

The Background

In 2017, Penn Line was awarded a state contract to replace the guard rails of 558 PA bridges. This hefty project would take four years to complete and required Penn Line to adhere to stringent project guidelines, including:

  • Delivering accurate, legible real-time summaries of work performed at each site
  • 72-hour turn-around for material certifications
  • Full supervisory oversight and customer visibility
  • Photo documentation of work performed
  • Details of additional work, safety exceptions, underground utilities, and property damage

The Problem

Upon reviewing their past projects, Dave discovered that Penn Line’s systems and processes had become outdated and would not be able to meet the requirements of the state contract. Most notably, their site sheets were being handwritten and manually delivered to the Penn Line headquarters. This often resulted in:

  • Data being ineligible or inaccurate
  • Important documents getting lost in transit
  • Significant delays and project bottlenecks
  • Poor internal and external oversight
  • Trouble issuing accurate and timely invoices

In order for Penn Line to comply with the project requirements, they had to rethink the way they captured, transferred and stored their site data.

The Solution: GoCanvas Forms, PDF Designer & Reference Data

Having heard of GoCanvas earlier that year, Dave reached out to our team with a plan to use this project as an opportunity to pilot the GoCanvas platform. The initial build was fairly simple, consisting only of the GoCanvas Form Builder, PDF Designer, and Reference Data. 

Dave built a customized GoCanvas form to capture all the necessary data for their material certifications and used the pre-negotiated contract items to create four reference data files to track all the materials used on-site.

Moreover, using GoCanvas allowed them to easily capture additional site data, like site conditions or unforeseen delays, which would then be compiled into a simple PDF report within minutes.

Outcomes

Using GoCanvas, Penn Line revolutionized the way they work, implementing:

  • Accurate, real-time summaries of work performed at each site
  • 72-hour turn-around for material certifications, compared to the previous 10-14 days
  • Improved supervisory and customer oversight, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in erroneous invoicing
  • Customer signatures and photo documentation verifying completion of work 
  • Records of additional work, site conditions, safety exceptions, underground utilities, and property damage 

“With GoCanvas in place, we received material information within seconds of foremen submitting it on their mobile devices. Therefore, reducing our 10-14 day turn-around for material certifications to a mere 72 hours,” says Dave.

With the GoCanvas pilot having gone so smoothly, Penn Line started looking at how they could further utilize GoCanvas to improve their operations.

Where Are They Now?

80+ GoCanvas Forms

67 Users

16,000 Form Submissions

Since their initial project in 2017, Penn Line has grown their usage of GoCanvas to over 80+ forms, 67 users, and 16,000 form submissions annually. They now use GoCanvas across all of their projects to capture: daily site sheets, safety inspections, machinery operator checklists, damage records, and accident site logs.

They’ve also increased the complexity of their GoCanvas build, incorporating extensions like Integrations and Analytics.

Improving Accident Site Logs with GoCanvas Integrations

A core aspect of Penn Line’s Roadside, Reclamation, and Landscape division is repairing roadside damage caused by accidents. Prior to using GoCanvas Integrations, Penn Line’s supervisors would visit accident sites to manually record the damage and determine what material, equipment, and traffic control measures would be needed for repairs. 

Compiling these accident site logs would often take up an entire day of a Supervisor’s time. In most cases, they were being hand-written on-site and re-written at the office to be handed over to a foreman the following day.

The Solution: GoCanvas Integrations

Dave migrated their accident site logs to GoCanvas. This allowed supervisors to capture the GPS location of the site, take photos, and record all necessary details without leaving the safety of their trucks. This alone saved countless hours of time by eliminating the need for hand-written site logs.

Next, the information was mapped through Zapier to Smartsheet. This meant that accident site logs were now being sent to crews and state coordinators in real-time and could be used as checklists to plan their routes and avoid dual deployments. Better yet, this enabled supervisors to track progress and manage the workloads of their crews. 

According to Dave, “It’s imperative that we get our crews to these sites as efficiently as possible for the sake of productivity and safety. Integrating GoCanvas with Smartsheet gives us everything we need. The power is in self-serve visibility at every level of work. The supervisor confirms damage, captures the GPS position and the details that he needs without leaving the safety of his truck, and the information is immediately routed, organized, and available for all stakeholders in real-time on their mobile devices.”

Dave goes on to say, “Conservatively speaking, this integration alone is saving us at least 1-2 hours of night work for each Supervisor. With five 5 Supervisors, this equates to roughly 25 hours saved each week. It’s really hard to quantify the impact it’s had on crew organization, planning, routing, and execution, but it’s significant.”

Using GoCanvas Analytics to Improve Project Oversight and Invoicing

Up to this point, Penn Line had undergone a complete process revolution and was now operating more efficiently than ever before. However, maintaining oversight and managing the submission data of over 80 GoCanvas forms could be incredibly challenging, especially when invoicing customers.

Prior to implementing GoCanvas Analytics, Penn Line was manually pulling the submission data of all their projects and compiling invoices on a weekly basis. Not only was this a very time-consuming process, but it also allowed a lot of room for human error.

The Solution: GoCanvas Analytics

Using GoCanvas Analytics, they created a fully customized live view of all their submission data, which included:

  • Daily supervisor reports of work accomplished
  • On-demand job recaps for customers
  • Aggregated executive dashboards pulling data from 27 different forms
  • Weekly reports detailing all project progress and productivity

To top it all off: Penn Line’s Finance team now receives a weekly summary report containing all the information they need to invoice customers. The report automatically pulls data across all existing projects and allows them to save over 6 hours on invoicing every week. 
According to Dave, “Analytics is giving our AP team back 6 hours every single week. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s almost a full day for one team member. Thanks to Analytics and a couple of other adjustments in tools and process, we are now able to reallocate one full-time employee to other under-resourced areas of the business.”

Ready to Start Your Process Revolution?

Penn Line’s story is not unique; we’ve helped a variety of businesses across multiple industries transform their business processes and rethink their efficiency. Why not do the same? Reach out to one of our experts today to kickstart your process revolution.