Electronic Extraction of Break Data from PDF Files

How well are your mixes performing? Which mixes are performing well and which ones are liabilities?  The only way to know for sure is by the timely and effective evaluation of the data you receive.  Some data can be near real-time, like batch weights and plastic properties, but other data like strength results will have a lag-time of several days to several weeks after the pour.  Further complicating this issue is that the concrete producer is typically not in control of the job-site strength data, resulting in addition lag-time when receiving the results from a commercial lab.  In accordance with ACI 318-14 R26.12.1.1(e), the concrete producer should receive break reports in a timely manner.  ACI 301-16 states that the concrete producer should receive break reports within 7 days after the tests have been performed. Today, many labs run software that can produce a break report in a timely fashion in the Portable Document Format (PDF).  However, additional lag-time may occur as a result of the concrete producer having difficulty finding the time or the personnel for hand-entering break data from commercial labs.  As lag-time increases, so does the possibility that critical information will be missed.

Waiting 8 or 9 days to receive a 7-day break result is understandable due to the length of the test.  However, additional lag-time should be minimized as much as possible.  In some cases, a good working relationship with commercial labs in your area may help with reducing the time between test completion and your receipt of the data.  But what can the concrete producer do to minimize the lag-time between receiving and entering the break results?  One costly option is to dedicate personnel to manually enter the break results in a timely fashion.  A more cost-effective and time-saving option is to electronically import these results into a quality control management system.  At Stonemont Solutions, we view the latter issue as one for which we can provide assistance to the concrete producer.

Electronically importing results from commercial lab break reports in PDF format is not an easy task.  For starters, before the data can be imported to a quality control system, such as StonemontQC, it must be extracted from the PDF file.  Further complicating the issue is the lack of a standard commercial lab report layout.  Therefore, each lab break report must be handled individually.  Another issue is that not all PDF files are created equal.  Some labs use older software that can result in poor quality PDF files.  Some labs distribute scanned images of reports rather than the original software-generated PDF reports, resulting in very poor quality PDF files.  Recently, many of our customers provided us sample concrete break reports that we used to evaluate the effectiveness of break data extraction from PDF files.  During our evaluation, we found that many of the reports we were provided could be effectively processed resulting in substantial time-savings over manual data entry.  We also built a robust validation tool that can be used prior to data import so that potential issues can be quickly identified and fixed.  Validation of strength results, even after manual entry, is especially important to prevent erroneous data from becoming part of the final data set.

With the upcoming release of StonemontQC Version 7.5, we are proud to launch our new innovative service for extracting break data from PDF files.  We are very excited to offer this new cost-effective and time-saving service to our customers.  For more information, please contact us.