EY appoints transport ambassador and development specialist Anna Delvecchio as Partner

EY appoints transport ambassador and development specialist Anna Delvecchio as Partner

EY has appointed Anna Delvecchio as a Partner in its expanding Government and Infrastructure consultancy practice in the UK. Anna joins the transport team and will work across EY projects with central government, local authorities and private sector clients, using her experience to advise on largescale transport development and transformation delivery projects.

Anna has over twenty-five years’ experience in the transport sector, having started at the age of 16 as an apprentice with an electromechanical engineering company before moving on to senior commercial, development and programme management roles.

Prior to joining EY, Anna was a founding member of the Highways Sector Council (HSC), a not-for-profit organisation established to drive collaboration between industry and government, harness latest technologies to transform UK highways and ultimately drive economic, environmental and social benefits for people across the country. She also co-led the transport sector’s coordinated response to government industrial strategy to shape the 2018 Rail Sector Deal.

Anna is a Fellow (FCILT) of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport as well as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (FCIPS). She is also a member of the Rail Supply Group (RSG), Chair of the Highways UK Advisory Board, HSC Future Leaders Group and a Council member for the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation.

Rohan Malik, EY UK&I Government and Infrastructure Leader, said: “Anna is a leading figure in the UK transport industry and a fantastic addition to our growing Government and Infrastructure team. Since starting her career as an apprentice, she has worked at every level across UK transport and brings a vast amount of experience in empowering greater collaboration between government and the private sector to deliver ambitious projects. Her knowledge and strategic vision will be crucial as EY continues to support the public sector on technology and talent projects to help drive economic growth and transformative transport initiatives.”

Anna Delvecchio, EY UK&I Government and Infrastructure Partner, said: “I’m delighted to join EY at such a crucial time for UK transport and wider infrastructure. Public-private partnerships offer an enormous opportunity to achieve our national infrastructure priorities, but this will require a combined approach that mobilises private sector investment, harnesses latest technology and unlocks the next generation of skilled talent with dedicated training and apprenticeship programmes. I look forward to working with the team and our clients across the public and private sectors.”

Road-user charging – the answer to everything or nothing? – Ben Plowden and Rich Sallnow, PA Consulting

Road-user charging – the answer to everything or nothing? – Ben Plowden and Rich Sallnow, PA Consulting

The funding and decarbonisation of road transport in the UK continues to be a hot topic. The Treasury anticipates a £35 billion hole in the budget owing to lower fuel duty and vehicle excise duty (VED) as the fleet electrifies. But vehicle electrification alone will not be sufficient to hit net-zero targets. The number of miles driven needs to fall too, as some policymakers in the devolved administrations have recognised.

Is introducing road-user charging the answer?

A number of authoritative voices – including the House of Commons Transport Select Committee and the Climate Change Committee – have argued that a national road-user charging scheme is the answer to these challenges. And in principle, it could be. But the political and technical complexity of introducing a scheme that simultaneously manages congestion, raises revenues, incentivises low- and no-emission vehicles – and does all equitably as household budgets are under unprecedented pressure – is too big a mountain to climb. Twinned with the existing web of disconnected schemes including congestion zones, tolls, and clean air zones, alongside unique policy priorities in different regions of the UK, the implementation challenge becomes truly daunting.

Despite these challenges, the £35 billion funding shortfall is likely to lead the Treasury to look at a ‘revenue collection’ scheme in the first instance. But how would we ensure any revenue collection scheme introduced in the near future facilitates broader policy ambitions in the long term and allows enhancements to tackle regional policy goals?

Understanding the potential road-user charging evolution is key

Understanding now how road-user charging may need to evolve will enable transport policymakers to develop a solution that enables a wider range of policy positions later on.

Here are three potential phases of maturity that road-user charging could go through – and which an early-stage solution will eventually need to accommodate.

Phase 1: Introducing a distance-based charge

The first phase could see the introduction of a distance-based charge, with an annual odometer inspection to evidence a pence-per-mile cost of motoring as the simplest and potentially cheapest way of implementation. This could apply to electric vehicles (EVs) in the first instance, with petrol and diesel vehicles still paying fuel duty and VED, establishing the principle that EVs also need to cover their wider ‘external’ costs. It could also help offset the risk of congestion induced by much lower mileage costs of EVs relative to fossil-fuelled vehicles. This could operate alongside existing congestion and emission charging schemes, and, through its introduction, help offset loss of revenues from electrification.

Whilst termed ‘simple’, the design of the scheme still poses significant complexity. How will the government continue to incentivise the shift to clean vehicles whilst ensuring all road users contribute to the ongoing costs of the road network? How will driving on private land, driving abroad and foreign vehicles in the UK be managed? What will be the penalties for fraudulent behaviour and how will it be monitored? Alongside this, government will also need to decide how the scheme will operate, who will be responsible for collecting funds, how funds should be invested, the commercial terms for an odometer inspection, and the legislative instruments needed to enforce them.

Phase 2: Adding emissions-based charging to the mix

The next stage of maturity could see the introduction of a distance and emissions-based per-mile charge, with a discounted rate for low and no-emission vehicles. An annual odometer inspection would continue to be available. Or, as an alternative, drivers could opt for an onboard unit and/or mobile phone apps to enable GPS tracking and allow for a daily, weekly or monthly charge. Digital channels would offer drivers a convenient way to pay, together with seamless and integrated payment of other clean air and congestion zone charges.

This digitally enabled solution would create additional challenges. Can GPS tracking be relied on through major cities such as London? How could enforcement work should users not comply with the rules? What consideration needs to be given to GDPR factors? And should the digital channels that enable this more sophisticated solution be owned and operated by the government or outsourced?

Phase 3: Introducing a single road-use account for each motorist

A single road-use account for each motorist would support distance, emissions and congestion-based charges. With this solution enabled by an app, phone or onboard unit, motorists would receive an automated charge to their road-user account and a regular digital update on their charges. There would be no need to interact frequently with the charging system, but instead notifications set at the user’s discretion (be it per trip or per month amounts). Linked to navigation and/or transport platforms, a planned journey can be costed and considered alongside alternatives such as bus and rail.

Many of the challenges tackled in previous phases will resolve those that exist with phase three. However, a mature solution like this will require road users to trust the charges made to their account. This, in turn, will demand a cultural and behavioural shift.

Phased implementation points the way forward

As we face an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis, any road user charging scheme requires careful consideration. Policy makers need a forensic understanding of the financial impact on households – based on different types of motorists, road users and the wider economy. The challenge we face is that the fiscal and environmental issues facing road transport are not going away.

Road-user charging holds real promise for policy makers looking to drive decarbonisation of the fleet and reduce miles travelled. The delivery challenge is undeniably substantial but, with a phased approach, is achievable. Careful design of the implementation of each phase – with thinking that considers the long-term vision before creating a reactive solution to today’s burning platform – will result in road-user charging solutions that are more convenient and more appealing for motorists. This, in turn, will help change the choices that motorists make about what type of car to drive and how much and when to drive.



Doing things differently with technology and innovation – Keith Smith, Chevron Group

Doing things differently with technology and innovation – Keith Smith, Chevron Group

Keith Smith, Chief Engineer for the Chevron Group explains how innovative thinking, digital technology and industry collaboration has resulted in a new way of managing Mobile Carriageway Closures.

We have to change the way we think about roadworks if we want to change the way we do roadworks. If we still think of roadworks in the same way we did it in the 1990’s we will always struggle with safety, incursions and maintaining traffic flow on our network in the 21st century.

Traffic management is a strange beast in some ways. There are times when it feels like things never change or that change is slow and tortuous but then we look back and see how far we have come in the past 10 or 20 years, we realise that change does happen and when it does, it makes a real difference.

We have seen tremendous improvements in road user safety, road users are having better experiences at roadworks thanks to the implementation of correct engineering, we are supporting people with additional mobility needs, we are reducing our carbon footprint and we are delivering operational efficiencies and improvements.

These are all really important improvements but the challenge, of course, is to keep pushing, collaborating and striving for more.

The introduction of our Enhanced Mobile Carriageway Closure technique which has been accepted by National Highways is a great example of what can be achieved.

Essentially, the EMCC technique allows traffic management contractors to deploy an agile vehicle displaying an authorised sign to create a traffic-free environment for a short period of time. The van is equipped with an incursion warning system to alert workers of errant vehicles entering the work zone. The EMCC can be deployed during operations including the installation, maintenance, switching, or removal of traffic management systems. This includes supporting works operations that requires short periods of traffic-free time. Ultimately, it provides an alternative to the use of rolling roadblocks when delivering planned roadworks projects.

And it came about because we went back to basics and considered the engineering and changed our thinking on how and why we do things. We simply couldn’t go on making TTM operations more complex by considering elements of the process in isolation. We had all the elements we needed to enable us to do this. We just needed to rethink about how we could pull them together to deliver roadworks more efficiently with improved safety and customer experience.

The use of an MCC to create a traffic free environment has been available to providers since the publication of Traffic Signs Manual Chapter 8 in 2006, but it required scarce and expensive resources which made the technique impractical and therefore it was never adopted.

We collaborated with HRS, who really are leading the way in delivering digital change to the industry and looked at their IIPAWS® (Intellicone® Incursion Prevention & Warning System). We were able to consider the MCC technique as well as the Convoy Control Vehicle technique which was approved in 2014, and enhance it with IIPAWS®.

In 2019, we began a series of self-funded, EMCC trials in conjunction with Costain. Our focus was to create short, traffic-free environments for work sites which were impacted by high traffic volumes, specific site features or works activities while improving safety standards, reducing disruption to customers and simultaneously minimising risks to road workers and road users with increased working windows to improve delivery.

The beauty of the EMCC is that it benefits everyone – contractors, TM providers and road users. It even benefits the environment.

For the TM provider, there is no lost time organising and waiting for a rolling roadblock which frees up those resources. EMCC gives direct control to the TM provider and contractor to start a rolling roadblock as soon as conditions allow or the requirement occurs. The trials have also shown that the EMCC can be safely activated at a higher traffic count which allows works to commence at a known time. Road workers are protected by the IIPAWS® incursion warning system.

For the contractor, this new technique gives them more control over their works schedule because we can provide a known and certain start time and give them a longer working window which will obviously take pressure of their timeframes and their workers and reduce the risks to those operations. It can also allow some works to move from night works to daytime works which has obvious benefits. To give you an example, we ran an EMCC for a client who needed to carry out crane works adjacent to an A road. These works were scheduled to be done at night but by deploying an EMCC, the client was able to reschedule them to daytime works and avoid closing the road over several nights, reducing cost and improving worker safety, in addition to eliminating environmental impact of diversions.

For the road user, we can eliminate the need for diversions which often take them onto unfamiliar side roads when they are possibly tired or have had a long day. This reduces stress levels and minimises the chance of getting lost or frustrated with the works. With the EMCC, drivers stay on the carriageway, follow the EMCC vehicle at a slower and controlled speed for a short period of time and then pick up their speed when the EMCC has ended, and the control vehicle has moved off the carriageway. Our trials established that with the EMCC system, the delay to road users is between 3 – 5 minutes which is significantly less than a diversion onto trunk route.

If we go back to our client on the A road, using this technique, they avoided having to divert over 10,000 road users through local roads during their crane operations. And of course, every eliminated diversion reduces miles travelled which will ultimately reduce carbon emissions on every shift, benefitting the environment.

The new EMCC trial project is an excellent example of how we delivered change by working collaboratively in an honest, open and enjoyably creative manner and underpinning everything with traffic engineering theory. Chevron TM worked with Costain to conceive and develop the concept and engaged with National Highways technical leads and specialists to refine and develop the test programme, reviewing, modifying and retesting this new way of working to improve safety, delivery and customer service for contractors, TM providers, road users and our planet. It also better utilises the finite resources available in responder organisations, providing another route to ensuring that everyone gets home safe and well.

About Keith Smith 

Keith Smith is a professional engineer with a general highways engineering and construction background and is a leading practitioner and authority in temporary traffic management engineering and roadwork design, lecturing, researching and proactively supporting the Chevron Group and other industry organisations to implement improvements in their operational functions. Known for his collaborative and open and honest conversations, he has been at the forefront of developing learning and new techniques in the industry for nearly 30 years.


Equity, Diversity and Inclusion – moving from strategy to implementation – Rachel Billington, AECOM

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion – moving from strategy to implementation – Rachel Billington, AECOM

Empowering people to interpret corporate ED&I strategies within their own workplace context is critical for successful implementation, says AECOM’s Head of ED&I, Europe & India, Rachel Billington.

At this year’s Highways UK conference, I asked panellists why inclusion is important to them. It’s a question that is important to me because I believe it doesn’t just draw out a personal response, I believe the question is an important step as organisations move from ED&I strategy to implementation.

For many firms in the Highways sector, the business case for ED&I is clear: simply put the talent pool is bigger, the skills and solutions people bring to the job are more diverse, and ultimately a better solution is delivered for the client.

This business case has resulted in the industry successfully developing ED&I strategies and at AECOM we’ve made significant headway on our strategy over the past year. This includes our pride in gaining our first Clear Assured accreditation and our new network of employee resource groups is already making a positive impact throughout the business. We’ve been shortlisted at the European Diversity Awards for Company of the Year and Outstanding Employee Network of the Year for our Ethnic Diversity Network ERG.   But now the challenge for us, and for the highways industry more widely, is to ensure that strategies don’t just sit on a file on a website, but that they are implemented across the sector in a meaningful way.

From the 18 months I’ve been at AECOM one learning point is clear: implementation in any company is a task that requires thought and effort day in and day out. It is a significant change for any company as ED&I becomes a part of business operations, in the same way that health and safety or finance are. Our implementation plan has included engaging and developing the top 250 leaders so that implementation starts at the top and is cascaded down.

Importantly, we encourage people to translate the ED&I into something that’s meaningful for them so that the implementation of ED&I works in a variety of workplaces, whether that’s in an office or on site. For us, implementation is inclusion led not initiative led. We continue to celebrate diversity through the different days, weeks and months which support our communities, but what happens on a day-to-day basis and the lived experiences of our employees really matters.

As an industry, I believe it is so important that the highways sector is honest about its people when driving ED&I, so it is critical that we engage everyone – including white men whose allyship can help people’s voices be heard and tackle the causes of discrimination. Being an active listener and thinking about every day actions can have a hugely positive impact. And it’s here we come full circle to my original point: to successfully implement ED&I strategies, we must empower people to reflect on what the strategy means to them and enable them to interpret it in their own context.

Part of broadening ED&I out from the passionate few to everyone is to make it meaningful. ED&I has a robust legal foundation, but it isn’t about forcing people to act in a certain way or making people scared about doing or saying the wrong thing. It is about embedding a fundamental understanding of what it means to be inclusive throughout the company, underpinned by a strategy at a corporate which facilitates this change. Once that understanding is in place, you’ll be surprised at how quickly the behaviours follow.

Of course, change doesn’t happen in isolation, for there to be meaningful change the sector needs to collaborate, to learn from each other and share best practice. So, what will you be doing to empower your people and organisation?

Covid, the economy, and the Roads Policy Trilemma – Michael Whelan, M6Toll

Covid, the economy, and the Roads Policy Trilemma – Michael Whelan, M6Toll

Michael Whelan, General Manager at M6Toll looks at RUC trials in California, Utah and Washington state, and explains how lessons learnt could be applied in the UK 

The arrival of the Covid19 pandemic in the UK changed everything overnight, not least on our roads. The near-total disappearance of road traffic during multiple lockdowns led many globally – like the Brookings Institute in the US – to ask how the carbon and congestion benefits of reduced road traffic could be preserved as lockdowns ended.

The impact had certainly been significant. In March 2020 the first of three national lockdowns came into force and within just 6 days, three quarters of all motor vehicle journeys had vanished from the UK’s road network.

But this dramatic shift hasn’t had the enduring legacy that many anticipated – and the emissions and congestion challenges have come roaring back. As society and the economy returns to other critical more ‘traditional’ challenges – such as inflation and the cost of living – traffic levels also returned to a pre-Covid state. In the first week of July 2022, over two years since the first lockdown began, car usage on Britain’s roads stood between 92% and 105% of pre-Covid levels[1]. Even by March 2022, car usage on motorways in the West Midlands in particular had returned to 97% of pre-Covid levels

However, whilst overall traffic levels have returned to pre-Covid numbers, traffic patterns have changed – at least temporarily. At the M6toll we have observed this shift in two ways:

Most apparently, weekday traffic on the M6toll is now 14% below 2019 levels. It’s probable this is due to commuter patterns adjusting to the widespread emergence of hybrid working. Speaking to our customers about their changing work and leisure patterns has enabled us to create flexible new products to respond to the shift in consumer behaviours.

Conversely, weekend traffic on the M6toll is now almost 5% above 2019 levels. A combination of factors – including a rise in UK holidays – could be behind this, but longer-term it remains to be seen whether this change endures or returns to pre-Covid levels as global travel returns.

But even with these changes to driver behaviour, overall traffic levels over the course of the week are back now at similar levels to pre-pandemic, meaning the roads policy challenges facing the country have not gone away. These challenges are three-fold – how to decarbonise road traffic, how to continue to support economic growth through improved connectivity, and how to protect the very significant levels of Exchequer funding raised through VAT and fuel duty. It is this road policy trilemma that has resulted in the increasing focus on Road User Pricing (RUP) as the solution.

In fact, far from ‘not going away’, these three road policy challenges have actually intensified in recent months. As the economic turbulence of inflation continues to bite – spread and encouraged by the cost of petrol, diesel and energy prices – this trilemma has become more urgent. Electric Vehicles sales are soaring as consumers look for cheaper modes of travel and the Exchequer is again under pressure to examine its fuel duty and VAT receipts. In other words, it’s not just Covid that has underscored the virtues of RUP but also the environment of today’s post-Pandemic and inflationary  economy.

Indeed, with organisations as diverse as bus companies, councils and the AA supporting road user charging, its stock is certainly rising. Yet one major roadblock stands in the way – public acceptability. As some reporting has already made clear, any Government introducing road user charging would face stiff opposition from some quarters, making its introduction difficult without public acceptability.

At M6toll, the UK’s only tolled road, operating at no cost to the tax payer, we have a unique insight into what the Government can do to make road user charging acceptable to the public. From our experience, and research we conducted with Stantec, we’ve identified three ways to make road user charging more palatable to the public:

Let them try it out first

The Washington State of Transportation Commission (WSTC) trialled road user charging in 2018 and found that the biggest influence on increased public acceptability was having participated in or been familiar with the trial. After a year of participating in the pilot programme, studies showed that motorists became more favourable towards RUC, with 68% of the respondents preferring RUC over or equally to the gas tax – a marked increase.

This suggests that the Government would be wise to phase any scheme in over time, allowing the public to gradually get used to road user charging in increments, rather than in one big bang. Whilst this might introduce other policy challenges – delaying the revenue take for example – it may be more likely to build public acceptability.

Offer choice

The Utah Department of Transport launched a voluntary RUC pilot programme for electric and hybrid vehicles, giving owners the choice of either paying a flat fee or paying by the mile. This element of choice appears to have reduced opposition by giving drivers some power in how they pay, at least at the beginning of the scheme.

In the UK, this could be in the options to pay offered – as in Utah – or it could be in ensuring that there are alternative non-chargeable routes available for those wishing to use them.

Focus on fairness

The California Transportation Committee launched a pilot programme in 2016 that found that rural drivers, lower-income drivers and drivers of certain ethnicities were the most difficult targets to convert from volunteer to participants, whilst in Colorado, 54% of the participants perceived road user charging would unfairly penalise rural drivers who often need to travel longer distances.

In the UK, AA President Edmund King has developed proposals that would see rural residents given a larger allocation of ‘free miles’ to use before road user charges applied and the Government would do well to consider this and other fairness elements seriously.

These findings point to the Government resisting calls for a simple, one-size-fits-all approach that, whilst easy to understand, might actually undermine road user pricing. This would be a major strategic error. The government’s latest OBR report identifies the “loss of existing motoring taxes in a decarbonising economy” as a critical challenge to the UK’s national debt and fiscal outlook. Particularly at a time of inflation, increased spending and post-Pandemic changes to domestic travel, this is not something we can afford to get wrong.

With the roads policy trilemma not going away any time soon, it’s worth taking the time to get this right.

[1] Covid19 Transport Use Statistics, Official Statistics, DFT, UK Govt (2022)

Five trends impacting the future of highways – Andy Theobald, Mott MacDonald

Five trends impacting the future of highways – Andy Theobald, Mott MacDonald

If we want our road infrastructure to be fit for the long term, we must keep pace with the key drivers affecting the highways industry, says Andy Theobald.

Providing our clients with long-term solutions means looking ahead, taking a 10 to 20-year time horizon to understand how to design and deliver projects that will serve society decades into the future.

It’s common to look at new technologies and processes that are making an impact now – artificial intelligence and machine learning, for example – and try to imagine a world where they are even more embedded in our solutions than today.

Technologies come and go, however, and the speed of innovation means many of the tools we’ll be using in the coming years have yet to make an impact currently. Instead, it’s more useful to look at the main drivers affecting demand to get a better sense of the long-term solutions we need to deliver:


Roads for levelling up

The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals are steering economic development, and good road infrastructure directly or indirectly supports all of them in some way. Highways link people to jobs, to markets to sell their goods, to educational opportunities and healthcare facilities. Roads can be a key investment to change people’s economic prospects and to support equality, as good connectivity can reduce time spent on menial tasks and widen access to jobs and opportunity.

The World Bank estimates that nearly 1bn people worldwide live more than 2km from an all-weather road. It also estimates that one in six women globally are not actively seeking work out of fear of harassment in transit. While road infrastructure in the UK is significantly more developed, there is still scope to improve the network to help spread prosperity. The focus should be on the factors driving the community’s need for the road. Improving neighbourhoods, addressing the needs of local communities, and enhancing the natural environment through nature-based solutions and regenerative design, will all help to maximise the long-term benefits.

Delivering net-zero

The International Transport Forum’s 2021 transport outlook estimates that to 2050 there will be a 2.3-fold increase in demand for passenger transport and a 2.6-fold increase in demand for freight transport. In the UK, the Department for Transport predicts road traffic will increase by between 17% and 51% by 2050 (depending on the development trajectory taken). Digital systems and smart motorways will be crucial in helping us to use existing roads more efficiently. Where new road infrastructure is needed, this must be balanced with the need to drive down emissions. Roads which support and encourage active transport and electrified vehicles will be key to cutting emissions, while working with suppliers to enhance the materials used will help reduce embodied carbon.

Designing for safety

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.35M people are killed on the world’s roads each year. Road accidents are already the leading cause of death for people between the ages of five and 29, and by 2030, WHO predicts that more people will die as a result of road accidents than die of cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes or violence. Besides the tragic human cost, there is also an economic cost to countries – estimated as an average of 3% of GDP each year – which impacts the resources that can be put into social development.

We need to work with users, operators and vehicle manufacturers to design in safety, using technology where appropriate. Our efforts should include helping to promote a cultural change in attitudes to the remote control of vehicles on roads by convincing the public they can carry more traffic, more safely.

Alternatives to fossil fuels

We know electric vehicles are a crucial and growing element of our transport system to tackle emissions, and these need to be supported with the necessary charging infrastructure. Heavy trucks, though, challenge what is capable via current battery technology and charging times would impact logistics. Sweden and Germany have trialled electric road systems which power heavy trucks via overhead lines, rails or an induction loop. This is a technically feasible solution to electrifying heavy vehicles but the business case is still to be proven.

The probable long-term solution could be green hydrogen, either through combustion or fuel cells, which requires development of specialised infrastructure to support it. As for active transport modes, inner city commuters increasingly expect dedicated cycle lanes and greater separation between pedestrians and car users, with better, greener public spaces that support health and wellbeing.

Digital first

Technology will change the way we use roads. Connected, driver-assisted and electric vehicles are delivering better informed and more comfortable journeys. As we look into the future, mobility as a service and other shared ownership models are likely to make road journeys more affordable and accessible for everyone. Data-driven operations and management solutions will boost the capacity of our network and lead to more efficient maintenance. A digital-first approach will help deliver enhanced journeys for all.

If we want to unlock the significant social benefits of point-to-point road journeys, the highways industry must continue to invest and keep up with technological advances to create a road transport network that is accessible, affordable and inclusive. While the outlook is uncertain, keeping mindful of these five key trends will help ensure highways infrastructure supports all parts of society for the long term and common good.

Andrew Theobald, group practice leader for highways, Mott MacDonald

Roadways can handle extreme weather – Jose Javier García Pardenilla, Ferrovial

Roadways can handle extreme weather – Jose Javier García Pardenilla, Ferrovial

Jose Javier García Pardenilla, Project Lead at Ferrovial, argues that roads are durable to extreme weather conditions, we just have to redesign how we formulate asphalt pavement.

This year, we have seen surprising images from around the world, from airports forced to halt operations due to melted pavements to melting roads or tires that have been affected.

But it would be incorrect to assume that the problem lies in roads being unable to withstand heat. We actually have to redesign how we formulate asphalt pavement. Lately, we’ve been facing a climate emergency where central and northern Europe have been impacted dramatically this summer. Some of the problems they have had to face include not having air conditioning in their homes; in light of what has happened, they will undoubtedly need to install it. Some of my acquaintances who live in countries with climates that are quite different from ours have been telling me about it. This is the case of some acquaintances from Geneva (Switzerland) who told me that it was really difficult since houses there were not prepared for the heat. Similarly, roadways initially designed for different climatic conditions have needed adaptations for warmer climates and heat waves in summer like the ones we’ve seen recently. It is precisely in these extreme moments that the roadway has to respond properly and continue to operate. If a road surface breaks down in a heat wave, it is no longer useful and has to be rebuilt.

But what’s really going on?

When you start looking into pavement, one of the first things you’ll come across is rut formation. Ruts are a deformation that occurs when traffic drives on a road, usually when the heat affects the surface in such a way that it loses its structural capacity. This is basically what has happened in many parts of Europe this summer.

I’ve taken this opportunity to find some books in the lab library to show that even they list this concept as the number one topic in the roadway catalog by the former MOPU (currently the Ministry of Transport, Mobility, and the Urban Agenda). As you can see, this knowledge has been available for decades. The only thing that remains to be done is to adopt a rapid change in the regulations implemented in Europe. I’d like to point out that Spain has a tradition of expertise in building roads that, from my point of view, is among the top three in the world. This is due, in large part, to the influence that Spanish universities, the Ministry of Transport itself, and Cedex, to name a few, have had with amazing work done in training and communication regarding this issue.

All of this work to train professionals well is also part of the success of our construction companies outside Spain. Building knowledge means building value, and this transforms into opportunities and benefits in the medium and long term. This is a clear success story, and we should thank everyone who has made it possible for decades.

Take a look at this BBC news photo from this year, 2022; it shows the same thing happening as the photo from the 1989 roadway deterioration catalog. It’s not that the UK has done anything wrong; they just have to change the circumstances surrounding infrastructure. From now on, they should start changing the bitumen specifications for roads. If they don’t do so soon, this will become a mistake.

How can we prevent roads from melting?

Asphalt bitumens are binders; you can think of them as the glue for the aggregates (rocks) in the road. These bitumens are classified by hardness, which is proportional to their temperature resistance. This means that the harder they are, the more resistant they will be to high temperatures. In Europe, bitumens are classified with a number: the lower the number, the harder the bitumen will be. There are two main ones used here, the B 50/70 and B 35/50. Historically, the B 50/70 has been most used in Europe, and now it should be replaced by the B 35/50.

About 20 years ago, when I hadn’t been working long, I remember the El Prat Airport project carried out by Ferrovial. We invested a lot of time in meetings with Aena and explanations to substitute B 50/70 for B 35/50. We did so precisely because of what is happening now in Europe. I was worried that a hard summer would come right after finishing the project and that ruts will appear. It took a lot of work because, once a project is drafted, it’s quite difficult to change. Finally, Aena’s technicians understood our point of view, and we did it with B 35/50. To be honest, I was satisfied because it was a technical issue, one that was of concern for the infrastructure. The price of both products were the same, so it was all the benefits at the same cost. I know for a fact that those pavements will be better off today than if we had used B 50/70.

So what is the advantage of bitumen B 50/70?

B 50/70 resists low winter temperatures better; being softer in the cold, they work better. But of course, this problem is becoming less and less relevant. In the case of Barcelona’s airport, this almost didn’t apply, given Barcelona’s wonderful climate in winter.

Surely someone will be wondering, “Are there no other solutions other than hard or soft?”

Modified bitumen

The answer is yes. The technology is highly present in solutions for road and airport surfaces. About 20 years ago, polymer-modified bitumens were developed and have become commonplace. This polymer is usually elastomeric. It gives the bitumen elasticity and significantly improves its properties to resist cold and heat. With this new bitumen, we could have it all: good properties in the cold and in extreme heat. Ferrovial   has been doing surface reinforcements at the Adolfo Suárez Madrid Barajas airport for years with this product. Thanks to this, the same thing hasn’t happened at this airport as in many other places in Europe with the climbing temperatures.

Recently, I was lucky enough to be a speaker at the Argus conference in Nice, where I explained that the top environmental product is the one that lasts the longest. With the current raw material crisis, we should also try to use fewer quantities of products. To do this, I said that we had to start making more roads with modified bitumen to make them last longer. We can also reduce the thickness of the roads since the performance of the modified bitumen is much higher and allows for making pavement thinner. Now, there’s another very important reason that I didn’t think was so significant in May: resisting heat waves. Modified bitumen has a softening point around 70ºC or even over 80ºC, while this point for the normal types that we mentioned before is around 50ºC.

This is already a common trend; look at this news from Alabama. In the United States, the use of polymer-modified bitumen is growing. After these episodes, it will continue to do so.

For example, most of the projects by Cintra use modified bitumen in the surface layer, which comes into the most contact with the outside and must therefore withstand extreme conditions the most.

Some countries that have come to understand this situation well are Germany, Poland, and the European centers that have high percentages of using modified bitumen, even exceeding 30% of all bitumen used in the country. These road surfaces will last longer; therefore, it will take longer before needing reinforcement. Thanks to this, they will provide significant savings to the infrastructure’s owner. In our project for the Bratislava bypass, we not only used modified bitumen for the surface layer; we also used it for the middle one. This is quite a success, and in the long term, it will provide a great return on investment.

To compare this with construction, I usually say that the polymer is to bitumen as metal mesh is to concrete – it makes it much better and more resistant.

Talking about solutions

As usually is the case, these are simple: balancing the consumption of conventional bitumen with harder products and generalizing the use of modified bitumen.

As you can imagine, the manufacturing technology for modified bitumen is complex, and the chemical interaction between the polymer and bitumen is key for good performance. But let’s leave all these technicalities for those of us who have to work on the proper functioning of infrastructure so that you can enjoy your next trip by car or by plane.

And now, in conclusion, I want to highlight one more thing. In the end, when you implement a technological improvement, this is transported to many things. In the case of modified bitumens, the performance is better – for the drivers; we can use less material – an environmental improvement; there’s greater durability – another environmental improvement; they won’t melt in a heat wave – an absolute improvement. This means we have to work on improvements every day, and the benefits will come back to us full circle.

Look at this road I drive on every day. It’s the M-100 in the Community of Madrid. It was built by Ferrovial Construction in 2008 and was made with modified bitumen, along with a porous road surface, which means it does not get waterlogged when it rains. This photo is from 2018, eight years after its construction and eight years of constant use. Today, it is exactly the same. Working on quality infrastructure is vital, but considering the climatic circumstances is also important. You can read more about that in this post.


How to make the best choices for sustainable transport – Alex Walton, Arcadis

How to make the best choices for sustainable transport – Alex Walton, Arcadis

Alex Walton, Director and Product Owner at Arcadis, explains how we can optimise our transport strategies and make data driven decisions. 

Transport planners love optimization.  We are great at tinkering with signal timings and converging strategic models.  But we have also been limited in ambition, the result of this often being more investment in models and ultimately more roads.  Perhaps we need to refocus our analytics towards transport strategies instead, balancing the objectives of sustainable development and making hard decisions easier.

The academics have been telling us optimization should be part of our decision-making toolkit for years (konsult.leeds.ac.uk).  Professor Susan Owens at Cambridge lectures about the tough trade-offs transport and environment policy-makers must make between the pillars of sustainable development.  So how do we achieve net-zero whilst simultaneously levelling up?

Empowering transport planners

Many of us joined the transportation planning profession with the idea of making a difference.  After the declaration of climate emergencies by many Transport Authorities, there’s been an amazing upswell in ambition and impact from local and regional authority officers across the country.

But one officer can’t move an industry by themselves.  They need support – from the bottom-up, from the top-down, from partnerships, from people, from tools – a means to align their stakeholders towards urgent new goals.

Making data driven decisions

At Arcadis we’re passionate about supporting our clients through this journey.  Here are our top tips for capital investment planning:

  • Collaborate intensively with stakeholders to agree the vision, objectives and how to measure success
  • Create a long-list of potential interventions, with extensive inputs from all parties, and assess the relative impacts of each intervention against your success measures
  • Adopt a data driven approach to prioritizing projects
  • Show the impacts in KPIs across the portfolio and extensively test different scenarios, together with stakeholders, to move towards compromise

We have developed a solution for our clients to do just this.  And it’s a proven tool. We’ve been using this with regulated water clients who had to prepare five-year capital investment plans. Their challenge was how to select the best combination of projects from a very long list, in order to maximize outcomes (e.g. sustainability, levelling up, customer satisfaction, OpEx etc.) within a set of constraints (e.g. budget).  A classic optimization problem.

The successes were outstanding, for example helping Severn Trent Water secure >£200m in financial benefit, mainly from increased funding, during a 15-year partnership.

So, if it works so well with water clients, why not transportation planning?

Introducing the Transport Strategy Optimizer

We have repurposed our proven investment optimization tools into the new Transport Strategy Optimizer, a cloud-based decision-support software for our clients as they develop bold transport strategies.

How does it work?  The user simply uploads a long-list of projects, each with data on costs and other KPIs as per the framework agreed with stakeholders.  The tool then applies research-based optimization to answer the question:  What is the optimal Capital Investment Plan within our constraints and with our goals in mind? 

Budget is an example of a constraint.  Emissions reduction or levelling up deprived areas are examples of goals.  The user can specify any combination of constraints and goals from their KPI framework.  This allows for creation of new scenarios anytime, anywhere; and importantly together with stakeholders.

Does this mean removing the human touch from decision making?  Absolutely not, no tool can ever replace the importance of local knowledge.  It is a decision-support tool for officers, allowing them to run large numbers of scenarios, evaluate trade-offs, find the optimum balance between outcomes, and achieve greater stakeholder alignment by doing this interactively.  In other words, facilitating collaboration and encouraging compromise whilst still optimizing outcomes.

We are now testing the software with key regional and local clients, with a plan to then release more widely in the UK and beyond.

This is one of the many ways Arcadis is supporting the impetus towards net-zero in Transportation Planning.  What an exciting time to be a Transport Planner.

Contact person – alex.walton@arcadis.com


Making connections happen – Duncan Reed and Stuart Campbell, Trimble

Making connections happen – Duncan Reed and Stuart Campbell, Trimble

Trimble’s Duncan Reed, Business Development Manager, and Stuart Campbell, Head of Sales and Business Development, explores the value of connected technology for civil infrastructure, ahead of Highways UK 2022

Our nation’s civil infrastructure is a critical part of the UK, with our roads and highways used by millions of people every day, helping us to stay connected. When it comes to their design, construction and maintenance, this theme of connectivity rises again, with the benefits of connected and synchronised construction being extensive and far-reaching.

At Trimble, we always advocate for a digitised construction workflow when it comes to civil infrastructure, and we’re proud to have a long record of supporting the effective design and efficient delivery of highways projects in the UK with our portfolio of solutions.

While there has been an evident rise in the uptake of design software, adding hardware into the workflow can be an additional piece of the jigsaw. Having software and hardware that talk to one another, with data that is shared, and teams that communicate effectively is critical – not just for the Concept & Design phase but also Site Construction and even beyond that, feeding into the Operation & Maintenance stage.

Here at Trimble, we welcome National Highway’s Digital, Data and Technology Strategy, as we are pleased to support the Connected and Autonomous Plant (CAP) programme too. In particular, we see CAP as a platform for the industry to look at connectivity throughout the project lifecycle.

From this comes the power to check, review and gain insights from the data that has been created during the design, construction and operation of the Strategic Roads network and beyond. As an industry, we already create and collect huge amounts of data. It is providing the technology that can then take this data, combine, filter and display it. By having this useful information, we can take the industry forward to the point of real time insights. Whether this is validating the quality of the new asset as it is being constructed, through to predicting when existing assets will fall below standard, to giving road users real-time information on the state of the network – good data underpins all of these processes.

Location, Information and Collaboration

It may seem obvious but one of the most important factors in the design and construction of roads is the ‘where’. Different outputs require different levels of accuracy but knowing and delivering these is crucial for the successful delivery of a project. Here at Trimble location, information and collaboration are the three cornerstones of our business. Customers use our technology to ensure that survey information is collected accurately and shared in the right format, enabling the creation of designs that can be set out in the field correctly too.

Automation and Machine Control

Trimble are proud of the depth and breadth of technology we can offer – our mission is to ‘transform the way the world works’. One such example of this is our established work in the field of autonomy, where we have leveraged our skills, knowledge and expertise in the agriculture and mining sectors to now inform the development of autonomous solutions in the construction and transportation spaces too.

Machine control, the first step towards full autonomy, can create better accuracy, improved quality and, in turn, offers carbon savings too. Our customers are already reporting 25% improvements from our assisted steering technology for compaction equipment

Combining this technology with the ability to view, both in real time and remotely, the performance of plant and equipment on site allows project teams to massively improve the management of their operations.

Start with the end in mind

It’s a well-worn phrase to say ‘start with the end in mind’ but when it comes to working digitally this really is the case. To ensure a constructible design is achieved in the field, it needs to be defined, designed and detailed accurately from the start. The design shouldn’t just deliver the required linework and levels but should be the result of a rigorous and collaborative process, considering the required outcomes, carbon, environmental issues, costs and buildability.

The right digital solutions can support these design processes and help to deliver roads for the future.

To find out more about Trimble solutions for civil engineering, please visit: www.tekla.com/uk/resources/civil-engineer.

Getting the strategic road network ready for autonomous vehicles calls for collaboration – Joanna White, National Highways

Getting the strategic road network ready for autonomous vehicles calls for collaboration – Joanna White, National Highways

Joanna White, Roads Development Director at National Highways, outlines the importance of collaboration and information sharing to successfully implement connected services. 

Vehicles are becoming increasingly more sophisticated, designed to keep us safer and make our journeys more enjoyable. Over the next decade, technology will transform the way we travel and we may even start to see driverless cars on our network. It’s vital that the road network is ready for these changes.

Following the launch of National Highways’ Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) trials safety guidance, National Highways is working to ensure safety is at the forefront of all CAV trials on England’s motorways and A-roads.

It’s imperative that any trials that happen on our network put the safety of drivers and other road users first and foremost. While our role is not to mandate how those running CAV trials manage safety, we would encourage them to apply the framework of the safety risk management standard. We launched our new CAV safety trials guidance to assist in this.

Trials have already taken place

Between 2015 and 2020 we ran pioneering trials of connected and autonomous vehicles, working with industry, other transport authorities, local authorities and wider government.

These trials included the UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment (UKCITE) project with University of Warwick; A2/M2 connected corridor that created a “wi-fi road” to connect vehicles and infrastructure wirelessly with Arup; HelmUK, which involved freight platooning; and HumanDrive, which involved a Nissan-led 368km autonomous drive.

For the UKCITE and A2/M2 trials, participants drove along sections of the network with overhead signs and as they did so, they could see the same information on the in-vehicle panel.

The trials tested the sort of information we can provide – like speed limits, journey time information and things like road works ahead – and how things like the speed travelled affects the information. Timing is a critical element, so ensuring that people are getting information that is current and relevant.

We also needed to test whether any extra communication technology is needed, or whether the mobile phone network would suffice. The trial concluded that we could indeed use the mobile network, and that information could be provided in a timely way. This has now led to a piece of work where taking the learning from these relatively small scale pilots, and looking at how we scale this approach across the whole of the network. And we’re looking at that from right across the spectrum of those who drive on the network – from lorry drivers, those who drive for business or socially.

For the HelmUK freight platooning trial we were looking at how information could be shared between a convoy of lorries. We wanted to understand what happened if you put a certain number of lorries close together. What benefits and efficiencies could be achieved? For example, could fuel savings be made, resulting in a real benefit from a logistics operational point of view?

The trial also looked at how the platooning vehicles interacted with other vehicles on the network and how that could happen in a safe manner. Tying back to the point about the safety case framework and applying a safety risk management approach. These trials have recently been completed so we’ll be able to announce outcomes and next steps soon.

Finally, the Nisson HumanDrive trial was about enabling a trial of an autonomous vehicle driving on real roads in a real-world environment. Looking at how we could support Nissan and the other members of the consortia to do that in a safe manner, so that they’re considering all the different elements of our road system.

The trial looked at aspects like how a vehicle travels through roadworks, how well its read white lines and other roadside “furniture” and how the vehicle knows where it needs to be on the network. This trial involved gathering data and then building a route that can be taken safely, as well as identifying risks.

These trials are all helping us to get ready for a future which includes autonomous vehicles, which is probably a couple of decades away but there are already some autonomous systems in use.

Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) are becoming more common. These features can assist drivers in driving and parking functions and use automated technology, such as cameras and sensors, to detect surroundings or obstacles, but are not classed as autonomous as the driver is still needed to operate the vehicle.

One of the newest features in vehicles is the automated lane keeping system, which has been mandated on motorways to allow for speeds up to 60km/h. We’re working with the government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles to ensure that safety is thoroughly considered.

The importance of collaborating with stakeholders

Collaborating with stakeholders from across the industry will be the key to success in ensuring standards are met. We need to stay in constant dialogue with vehicle manufacturers, those developing the technology and law makers because there are so many interdependencies. There’s a clear interaction between the vehicle and the road, and that requires us to look at how we develop our standards and look at our future road design and our information systems.

It’s the chicken or the egg situation, because you’ve got the manufacturers of vehicles or other technology developing things. And do we react to what they’re developing and then change our infrastructure and standards, or do we work with them together? Because even developing that, we develop our infrastructure at the same time or do we say this is our standard and this is what you need to develop in order to go on a work on our motorways.

It’s probably a blend of all these factors. Depending on the service, the circumstances and where it is, it can be quite relatively easy to change something. It might not be for us to change, it might be for the manufacturer or the service provider to change it. But we need to have those conversations and those relationships in place, otherwise the risk is that we invest money changing something and it’s completely unnecessary and vice versa.

We’re already focusing on the information provision side of things and our next task is looking at how that ends up in the vehicle.

We might push the data, for example on planned roadworks, out to a third party provider who then shares it. But then how do you make sure that it is used responsibly? It takes time to develop, because of the nature of what you’re trying to do.

Some of the location data just isn’t accurate for us to be confident that it would reach the vehicles with that information. The quality of the geospatial data is critical. We’ll need to develop standards and policies in this area.

With these standards and policies in place, customers will be able to get the information that they need quickly and efficiently, and it’ll be tailored to them specifically. They won’t just be getting a blanket set of information that they’ve got to sift through and find the bits that apply to them. Ultimately this should enhance the quality of their journey and their whole experience.

People should know a journey will take a certain amount of time, and should be told in a timely fashion about any delays or diversions that they would need to take and they took the diversion and it was correct.

Gaining trust will be critical; people need to know that the information they see coming into their vehicle saying, for example ‘obstruction ahead, move over’ is accurate.

Once we’ve gained that trust, we’ll be able to manage people’s expectations better, and of course there are huge safety benefits because we’ll be able to target people much more quickly, helping them to proactively manage situations.

The journey to achieving connected services

Number one to achieving success is collaboration. We are just one part of an end to end process to make this information available and useful. We’ll need to collaborate with external parties but also with those within our business too.

And then of course there is data quality; making sure any information we provide meets legislation and making sure it all joins up clearly. We might push out that information, but how it’s provided back into the vehicle needs to comply with the legislation and not be distracting.

Our relationship with the government is key here as well, so that we’re making sure that we’re in step with their plans and that we can provide that advice to them. How it might impact our operation of the network and for the future, a key question will be about our role as a network operator and what does that really mean and what does that look like?

Driver education and communication is going to be fundamental. We will need people to learn more about the features available in their vehicles, absorb the information provided and take the correct action.

The future road network is very exciting and it’s thrilling to be part of the preparations of what’s to come.

Joanna White, Roads development director with National Highways will join the panel discussion on ‘The roadmap to (CAM) connected and automated mobility take up’ on Day 1 – 2 November at 11.50am in the Technology and Innovation theatre.




The future of mobility is safer (and how we get there) – Jillian Kowalchuk, Safe and the City

The future of mobility is safer (and how we get there) – Jillian Kowalchuk, Safe and the City

Jillian Kowalchuk, Founder of Safe and the City explains how software and AI can help people feel safer when using the transport network 

Most people think of Safe & the City as just an app, but that isn’t the full picture. There’s more  behind our technologies, what drives our team and mission to change the world for the better. When you think of a better future, be it one year, 5-years or-10 years from now, does it feel safer?  Of course, it does. It must be, otherwise, we wouldn’t say it’s an improvement from today. Safety  is implied, a given. But this way of thinking is problematic. We can only create that type of future if  we actively understand, learn and work towards that vision.

Safe & the City is led by our mission and vision for a better and safer future. We started with Safe  & the City’s navigation app that reflects the areas of safety during travel that are mainly  preventative and have been missed. Whether it is sexual harassment, misogyny or LGBTQ+ hate  crimes, these gaps in knowledge we don’t collect insights on, measure and improve, won’t ever  change.

“What gets measured gets managed.” – Peter Drucker

Our freedom of movement is predicated on our beliefs to feel and be safe in this country. For  example, when we leave home to catch our bus to the tube station to work, we expect it will be  safe. We know there has been a lot of thought, development, and learnings to reflect the current  safety standards, such as how we created the rules of the road, vehicle manufacturing  requirements, the bus drivers’ training, and installed CCTV to reduce crimes, to name a few. When  departing from a tube station, we can appreciate the array of public safety considerations to move  millions of people – the engineering of a train, the wider network operations, staff training and  even a dedicated transport police force (BTP). While each of these physical components is  different, all aspects need to work together in unison to get people safely to where they need to  be.

But what about the software that helps us move through each of these transport systems, even  when on our own two feet? That is a completely different story. Software technologies and apps  move more people than any-one transport system. And at large have zero consideration of  people’s safety, no regulations to set a higher bar and little market incentive to change. However, individuals are waking up that technologies need to do more. Consider how much we  relied on technology to support us during the COVID-19 pandemic. Software technologies that  helped keep our distance, know congestion periods on transport and anonymously get notified if  we came into contact with an infected person. We have limitless opportunities if we can leverage  technology to innovate around problems, set higher expectations of user privacy, and physical  and psychological safety and strive toward making the overall experience positive. Not to exploit  people, but to lift, better understand and learn how mobility products can make every journey  better for everyone.

Safe & the City’s i3 Intelligence AI provide ‘just in time information’ to contextualise what’s ahead,  giving people moving through the risks of the real world, the advantage of the time to respond  and seek help when necessary. We all need safety, no matter who we are and where we want to  go.

Times are changing fast. We’re accelerating into new challenges of the 2020s- the cost of living  crisis, economic downturns, civil unrest, strikes and protests, crimes and fear. We can watch as  the existing systems to move people fail without meeting the realities of the digital age, or  embrace technology as one of uniting forces, that helps move us into a new way of thinking,  designing and putting people’s right to be safe first.

This is the future we’re building. Starting with Safe & the City navigation app, evolving into i3  Intelligence AI and working with partners to think differently and have safety be a part of their  competitive edge now and in the future.

Software technologies can help save lives, shape a better tomorrow and unlock endless  possibilities when people’s right to move safely is top of mind. We look forward to being a part of  the journey at Highways UK conference for those that see that future too.

Technology for a Better Journey – Kristof Harling, TAKELEAP

Technology for a Better Journey – Kristof Harling, TAKELEAP

Kristof Harling, Executive Director at TAKELEAP, outlines the benefits of digital technology within road maintenance. 

The Department for Transport (DfT) has recognised the need to adopt new technology and AI driven data analytics to successfully deliver the UK’s Digital Roads initiative. This has led National Highways to initiate a development programme that looks to the future. As outlined in a 2021 Digital Roads report, the technology used in road asset management and maintenance data, forms an integral part of the strategy to safer roads. In this, it has been highlighted that how data is accurately captured, collated, standardised, and managed, needs greater investigation and agreement.

Driving advances in technology

An area of technology that is driving change in how road asset management and maintenance data is captured, is video analytics. This powerful AI based application can detect, identify, and categorise asset types through captured video footage. This mainly achieved via a DashCam mounted correctly on to the front windscreen. This means that maintenance companies can effectively and efficiently deploy teams and vehicles to record video footage on selected stretches of road, to collect the necessary data.

This video footage can then be uploaded and analysed in real-time, to provide a full report on assets by category. These category types can be an extensive list against each headline, e.g., road surface, drainage, signage, and protective barriers. Over time and using AI powered analysis, data can be used to determine immediate repair needs, as well as future needs within a specified time.

These prescriptive and predictive capabilities through a plug-and-play application, is a huge step from the existing Surface Condition Assessment for the National Network of Roads (SCANNER) technology. It does, however, open local councils and maintenance contractors up to using a variety of different technologies and methodologies when assessing assets. This creates a risk of disparages within the data lists, which is essential for the National Highways and the DfT to use for comparison and progress reporting.

As the DfT stated in August 2021’s Road Condition Data and Technology Review Position Paper, the DfT has formed a steering group in collaboration with an external standards agency. This group is formed of members from the DfT, local highway authorities, potential suppliers , and relevant sector bodies to discuss and explore data standards. A data standards proposal is planned to be released at the end of 2022.

If it ain’t broke, why fix it

So why the need and urgency for adopting new technology and to create a reliance on unified data? The Highways Performance Report for 2021 and 2022 gave a positive review of the National Highways’ ability to keep UK roads to a good standard. It reported that 95.3% of its road surface did not require further investigation for possible maintenance upon inspection. This surely indicates that current processes, procedures, and applications are working.

Not quite. They may be working but comparative data is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain as operating conditions change. The Government over the past decade has taken steps to find efficiencies in how the UK maintains the roads. In 2014 Highways England was formed as the steward of the strategic road network (SRN). This was a move to reform the way that England’s strategic roads are funded and managed and to introduce a five-year Road Investment Strategy (RIS).

This initiative introduced a savings target of £2.6 billion over ten years. Now, in the second phase of investment, RIS2 sets out an investment commitment of £27.4 billion from 2020 to 2025, but has increased the savings target for this period to £2.304 billion.

This target is a stretch in a post-pandemic Britain, where materials and labour costs have risen. According to research from the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 350 councils in England and Wales, its members have seen a 22% rise in the cost of road maintenance.

The climate is also making an impact. Within the Preparing for Climate Change Report, published in January 2022, National Highways explains how extreme weather needs to be factored into SRN. As the severe floodings in late 2019 and early 2021, and the 40 degrees Celsius temperatures this summer become more common, the UK needs to build infrastructure and response procedures for such events.

There seems to be an expectation that monitoring, assessing, and maintaining road assets will become more informed and frequent. This increased activity will nudge National Highways to start maximising the use of owned data, asset management systems, and digital technology to make intelligence led decisions. Designing, implementing and adopting such an operating platform requires a monumental level of investment, collaboration, and grit. The headwinds caused by political, economic and environmental volatility are unwelcome counters to accelerated progress.

Moon Shots

Yet, progress is still being made. As National Highways moves forward in data gathering and AI driven analytics uses, a digital future is unfolding. Illustrated within the latest Digital Roads Report, a cognitive operating system is shown that uses digital twins for road assets, married with autonomous monitoring and maintenance vehicles, and remote diagnosis and assessment personnel. It sets the aspiration for a fluid data transfer between government, contractors, suppliers, and customers, to deliver an efficient, effective, and adaptive road operations network for a safer journey.

It’s a bold future, but one grounded in reality. As technology successfully returns rockets onto ocean-based landing pads and the everyday person shoots to the stars, there is no reason why an accelerated road to a digital future, cannot be part of our journey.




More zero, less net – Adam Crossley, Skanska

More zero, less net – Adam Crossley, Skanska

Adam Crossley, Director of Environment at Skanska UK, explains how we need to get back to basics when tackling net-zero challenges in the highways sector.

Don’t over-complicate the journey to achieving net-zero carbon emissions.

We’re living through a period of significant change for society driven by the impacts of climate change. And we need look no further than the building and construction sector to find one of the world’s biggest emitters of carbon. Buildings equivalent to a city the size of Paris are being built every week, but less than one per cent of them are assessed to determine their carbon footprint. The good news is we’ve started the journey, but we have a long way to go. It means we have a huge opportunity, now, to do something about it.

Focusing on the basics

One of our biggest opportunities lies in focusing on the basics, through targeting the highest emitting sources of carbon emissions first. Approximately 70% of emissions in our sector arise from steel, concrete, asphalt and plant. We have to significantly reduce and then effectively eliminate carbon in these areas in order to get to net-zero emissions across our industry.

It starts with a clear vision that sets targets, milestones and clarity on expectations. We’ve seen this over recent years with organisations including National Highways, HS2 and Network Rail all publishing their net-zero carbon plans. In its roadmap to net-zero, National Highways has set its expectation to achieve net zero road maintenance and construction by 2040. The plan is backed by evidence and has impressive sub-targets to bring it to life. Unsurprisingly, high on the priority list is tackling carbon emissions caused by asphalt, cement and steel.

Being better together

So how do we go about it? We have the best chance of success through joining forces, sharing knowledge and working collaboratively – across different market sectors and countries. The good news is it’s happening. On our M42 Junction 6 scheme, for example, we’ve received funding from National Highways to work alongside the National Composites Centre, Basalt Technologies and Tarmac to compare traditional steel reinforced concrete with a low carbon concrete, reinforced with basalt fibre. The trial, on a haul road, is proving a success and we’re now looking at the next stage of the project.

But it also poses a challenge, which is common across the industry. In order to rollout innovations at scale they need to be proven to ensure compliance with the relevant standards and accreditations. That’s absolutely the right thing to do. But we all know that this takes time, often years. Maybe there is an alternative option. If the current standard specifies a 120-year design-life, but a carbon-friendly material may have a reduced design-life, could the standard be adapted instead? It’s important issues like this that we need to focus on as an industry so we can find ways to safely introduce new innovations and ways of working, while supporting delivery of our net-zero carbon ambitions.

Achieving common understanding

We also need to work alongside materials specialists and related industry bodies. For example, Skanska are founding signatories to both the ConcreteZero and SteelZero pledges, committing us to procuring, specifying and stocking 100% net zero steel and working with net-zero concrete by 2050, with interim commitments on the way. It’s industry leading, but we also know that the 2050 target is 10 years behind where National Highways needs us to be. Cutting that gap, such as through designing steel out or using replacements, requires significant investment and collaborative working.

It’s essential therefore that we involve and bring our supply chain with us. We need the expertise of our partners and we need to ensure there is a common level of understanding, including in industry specifications such as PAS2080. We need to prioritise and focus on what is important in delivering the biggest carbon reduction impacts.

Market confidence

Although collaboration is important, let’s not over-complicate the challenge. We need to remember that the majority of our emissions result from just a handful of key emitters, so if we can tackle these directly we’ll solve most of the challenge. To do that we need confidence and clarity in the pipeline of projects at national level, which is so important for industry investment and can super-charge innovation. For example, if we know what our plant and fleet needs will be for years to come, we can demonstrate that demand to manufacturers, including Tier 2 and Tier 3 contractors, stimulating investment in electric, hydrogen and other clean fuel alternatives.

It’s just one example of how we can achieve transformation – where the collective strength of Government, industry bodies, customers, contractors and supply chain all come together. Let’s keep it simple and work together to make net-zero carbon a reality.



Transforming lives through Social Value – Andrew Stephenson, National Highways

Transforming lives through Social Value – Andrew Stephenson, National Highways

Andrew Stephenson, procurement director at National Highways, reflects on how road schemes can add value to society through economic prosperity and improving community wellbeing. 

At National Highways, we’re well positioned to transform our customer’s lives through social value and the legacy benefits it creates for future generations. Since joining the organisation two years ago, I’ve seen social value work delivered that’s not just great, its sector and industry leading.

Our 21-mile upgrade of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntington is a fantastic example. This £1.5bn project has not only provided more capacity and better connectivity for quicker, safer and more reliable journeys, we’ve also invested in preserving areas of historical interest along the route and protecting the environment by boosting biodiversity.

We deliver value to society in more ways than you may imagine.

Working with the local communities around our projects and operational areas helps us to design schemes that meet the economic needs of the area and the communities living nearby.

We invested more than £4 billion into our road network last year, and we estimate that will produce a return to society of roughly twice that figure.

Of course, a lot of that is economic value.

Businesses rely on our roads to move goods around the country, and people rely on them for work journeys, holidays and visits to friends and family.

Spending money with suppliers local to our projects, or supporting smaller businesses by engaging with them and helping them better understand how they can work with us, also helps support economic growth.

We want to do more and spend more with diverse suppliers to generate the widest possible social impact.

But it’s more than just economic value.

Together with our supply chain partners, we employ over 40,000 people and provide thousands of opportunities for people through apprenticeships, graduate schemes and training to build skills. We’re also focused on helping people get back into work – whether they’re ex-offenders, people who classify as homeless, ex -army veterans or simply need support to re-enter the job market after a career break.

By making sure we provide more opportunities for under-represented groups, we – and the wider highways sector – will benefit from a more diverse and talented workforce.

We empower our people to build better relationships in the communities in which they live and work by volunteering their time and skills to support projects they feel passionately about.

Our roads also play an important role in relieving the pressure of traffic from towns and cities.

We remove the traffic travelling through towns and cities and reduce congestion, noise and pollution in densely populated urban areas. And we’re working hard to address health-related issues and improve amenities, education, and heritage programmes in these and wider communities.

It’s important that we take sustainable decisions.

We conserve natural resources and enhance ecosystems wherever we can to protect the environment. We’re supporting road users to transition to zero-emission vehicles, increasing biodiversity, creating wildlife corridors and preventing flooding. Our Lower Thames Crossing project is a great example of delivering more by setting ambitious targets for biodiversity gains and carbon reduction, as well as the creation of public spaces and cycle routes.

Delivering social value isn’t new to us.

We’ve always built value into every aspect of our network, specifically focusing on the needs of our customers. We know how important it is that we make a positive difference to the communities and environment in which we work. To some extent we’re mandated to deliver this, but we also do it because it’s the right thing to do.

Andrew Stephenson is National Highways’ Procurement Director and leads on Social Value as part of his portfolio. To find out more about how National Highways is working with suppliers to make a difference for customers and local communities, come to Andrew’s talk at Highways UK, which is running in the National Highways Theatre on 2 November, 14.10-14.30

Innovative and sustainable approaches to concrete road refurbishment – Martyn Sherwood, Metrail Construction

Innovative and sustainable approaches to concrete road refurbishment – Martyn Sherwood, Metrail Construction

Martyn Sherwood, managing director at Metrail Construction, talks through sustainable methods to road maintenance taken from Germany’s Autobahn now being used in the UK.

Innovation, sustainability and technology — three things that we at Metrail are proud to be at the forefront of. And I’m delighted to say that the technology we brought to our recent concrete road refurbishment on a stretch of the M180 exemplifies exactly this.

I’m talking, of course, about the highly specialised resin product from Germany

After being introduced to the system via a manufacturer, we went over to Germany to fully understand its benefits. Having been to Germany, having visited the German Autobahn and having seen the system in use, I was very excited to bring it to the UK. And during a concrete road refurbishment of a stretch of the eastbound carriageway of the M180 which commenced in October 2021, we got the chance to do just that.

With the technical support of our German partner, Otto Alte-Teigeler GmbH (OAT), I was very excited for Metrail to be the first to trial this technique on England’s strategic road network. It’s important to me to continue finding solutions that are both cost effective as well as better for the planet.

So, how does it work and why do I prefer it over other solutions?

First a little background info about the resin: mixed on-site, the resin was designed for the stabilisation of concrete slabs on high-speed roads in Germany, where it has a credible history. With a product life of up to 30 years, the resin can survive under the road surface whilst subject to unbalanced loads, combinations of pressure, tension and shear as well as the dynamic effects of traffic much longer than brittle cement-based systems.

For this project on the M180, we drilled over 20,000 holes into the concrete slabs between Junction 1 and 3. Packers were mechanically fixed into the holes in the slab which allow the resin to be injected through the slab into the subsoil. The resin was then injected at a controlled pressure, and its job is twofold: one, unlike traditional cementitious products that are mixed with water, with the viscosity of the resin material being 1.4 times the density of water, the product is able to force any excess water out from under the slab. And two: it fills in all voids in the sub-formation.

Something else I really like about it: the fact that it’s a two-component silica resin with a ratio of 1:1 which is kept at a constant temperature means there’s no need to mess around with other chemicals. The advantage of this? Each mix is consistent and there’s very little waste. And compared with removal, this technique also has a smaller carbon footprint.

Another one of the reasons that I prefer this technique over other solutions is how quick it is. With a cure-time of 15 minutes, this is a customer-focused solution with a methodology that’s quicker than other approaches. The unique formula of the resin used and its rapid hardening capability, which allows carriageways to be opened much more quickly, is cost effective and a game changer for concrete road maintenance in the UK.

With a proven track record on the M180 — measurements taken by James Fisher Testing Services before and after each stabilisation shift suggest the pavement response significantly improved after the treatment, and the collected deflections for pavement evaluation purposes based on CD 227 mean that the overall stretch of pavement could be classified as Class A — I’m looking forward to a successful future with new innovation on concrete roads.




Hitting the bridge deck running as the new kid on the National Highways block – Rob Cook, Winvic

Hitting the bridge deck running as the new kid on the National Highways block – Rob Cook, Winvic

Rob Cook, Civils & Infrastructure Director at Winvic, talks about their delivery strategy and projects ahead of exhibiting at Highways UK this year.

Since I was appointed by Winvic in the brand-new role of Director for Civils and Infrastructure, it has been a whirlwind of strategic implementation and steady growth and two years has passed quicker than I ever thought possible. Capitalising on our expertise, experience and widely valued forward-thinking standards, our focus has been on winning contracts for infrastructure schemes and major rail freight interchanges, such as DIRFT III, SEGRO Logistics Park Northampton and West Midlands Interchange. Plus, we have also been appointed on large commercial and housing enabling projects as well as public sector highways frameworks. Having built excellent relationships with National Highways (NH) through numerous projects that have had Section 278, Section 38 and adjacent Smart Motorways programmes for almost 10 years, securing a place on the organisation’s new Scheme Delivery Framework (SDF) was the number one goal Winvic set its sights on.

The tender process was as robust as one would expect, and with our evidenced capabilities, innovative foresight and confidence in always doing the right thing – even if that means challenging the norm, on all areas from safety to materials used – we were successful. At the end of September 2021, we joined 49 other contractors on the Framework to deliver £3.6 billion of road renewal works on England’s motorways and trunk roads over the next six years. That was the easy bit! October was the start of a huge undertaking to plan, prepare and mobilise, from positioning team members to expanding on tender commitments and policies. As is in our DNA, there wasn’t a stone unturned between then and February 2022 to ensure the Framework requirements were met, and boy did we work hard. Nevertheless, it was also an exciting time as we waited to be given details and budget allocations for the circa 10 projects, in four geographical areas across two lots – Lot 8 Structures, Waterproofing and Expansion Joints and Lot 10 Structures, Structural Services and Concrete Repairs – that we were scheduled to deliver in the first year.

Winvic’s dedicated SDF office in Wakefield, just down the road from National Highways’ regional office, opened at the beginning of April at the same time as more planned project information emerged and liaison intensified. We began to look in detail at the schemes with the National Highways project managers, assign design teams where Early Contractor Involvement was possible and talk execution dates. Little did we know that none of these projects would be the first Winvic undertaking under the Framework; within a month we were asked to turn our attention to an emergency.

During a routine investigation by National Highways on the M62 bridge over the River Ouse, it was discovered that increased vibration from traffic has started to damage the concrete under lane three and a bridge joint, which allows the carriageway to expand and contract with the weather. Therefore, a contraflow was put in place to reduce eastbound traffic to one lane and keep drivers safe.

National Highways selected Winvic to assist as the team had the utmost confidence in our investigative, creative thinking and safety-first approach, and knew we had the skills immediately on hand to tackle such a large and unforeseen job. With Framework processes well in place by May, we were in the very best position to act fast with the aim of minimising disruption for the thousands of people who use the bridge. So, we began a raft of specialist surveys on the 1.6 kilometre, 40-metre-high structure that sits between Junctions 36 and 37 on the Yorkshire motorway. However, after an under-bridge inspection by one of Winvic’s structural engineers, we brought it to National Highways’ attention that there was excessive deflection within the cantilever deck section within Lane 3. While roads users are a top priority, safety comes higher on the list, and we recommended all traffic should be removed from this lane. Nevertheless, we on July 8th we installed some bridging plates, which enabled a single lane to be opened on the eastbound carriageway to enable traffic to exit at J37, helping to minimise disruption to motorist’s journeys.

Alongside the temporary solution, our team was also working with the National Highways Designer Jacobs, on designing the permanent answers and other associated works, comprising concrete and steel repairs, replacement bridge joints and improved drainage on the structure. There were two sets of bridging plates at our disposal, but one was not suitable for the structure and the second was less than ideal, so we advocated further research and sourced a plate more apt for the Ouse Bridge’s movement ranges. We have now installed these bridging plates over the damaged bridge joints as a temporary mitigation measure, and a second set will be added this autumn. We are also currently working as one team with a number of National Highways project partners on the complex design process required to replace all eight joints across both carriageways and it’s critical the solution reduces the need for full closures in the future as much as possible. The permanent installation programme will be undertaken in 2023 and is expected to be completed by autumn 2023.

The network plate design has just been approved and is about to be manufactured and the aim is to have these installed by the end of the year. Also, we have now started two out of the 10 other scheduled SDF schemes, which are joints and waterproofing projects based in Tingley and Lofthouse, being undertaken with daytime lane closures and weekend overnight closures to negate as much interruption to road users as possible.

In less than 12-months, we’ve not only won a place on the SDF and successfully prepared for mobilisation, but we’ve also hit the ground – or bridge deck! – running, illustrating we were the right contractor for the Framework. We are committed to meticulous planning, but we’re also equipped to react whenever required, we have experience in abundance, but we also champion finding new ways of doing things and we’re proud that National Highways values those attributes. Whether it’s capitalising on the efficiencies, reducing operational and embodied carbon or delivering benefits to the local communities in which we work, we’re here to do the right thing and steer the future of modern contracting

Could 5G connectivity be the changemaker technology for road safety? – Dr Dimitrios Kaltakis, WSP

Could 5G connectivity be the changemaker technology for road safety? – Dr Dimitrios Kaltakis, WSP

Dr Dimitrios Kaltakis, 5G and connectivity lead at WSP, outlines how network operators, vehicle manufacturers, and road operators must work together to achieve Vision Zero. 

As digital connectivity becomes increasingly vital – not just for the smooth but for the safe operation of transport networks – access to 5G can benefit a huge range of stakeholders and end users.

Today transport is more than just travel – it connects people to each other, to jobs, to vital services and it’s essential for the logistics we all depend on every day. All this relies not just on physical assets such as roads, bridges, and train tracks, but on data and digital connectivity.

The role of data in improving transport is well established. For example, on the roads, monitoring the highways network using cameras helps operators respond quickly to incidents, provide information, and keep traffic flowing. On the railways, CCTV helps keep passengers safe, while smart card readers at station barriers make ticketing seamless. All these systems and others work by getting data from A to B, and that requires a whole ecosystem of connectivity which includes 5G networks.

On-site safety and efficiency

5G networks can enable Vision Zero and pave the way for increased efficiencies and optimised construction times. Imagine having ubiquitous access to complex 3D models on-site or being able to stream a live feed of as-built information directly into BIM systems. A 5G network can enable this, increasing collaboration, reducing time spent on site and driving efficiencies.

An advanced 5G network can improve site safety too through the use of real-time video analytics and highly accurate asset and personnel tracking – raising the alarm if someone is in a dangerous situation. The ultra-low latency of 5G also makes it possible to operate machinery remotely, paving the way for site automation.

Once construction is finished, all or part of the 5G network could be used during the operational phase. This is where the neutral-host network model comes in. The UK is leading the way in adopting this approach, which involves a third-party wholesale carrier setting up infrastructure and selling access to mobile operators and other partners. With 5G connectivity in place, people get internet access, new data-driven use cases open-up, and transport operators can generate a revenue stream which would enable them to reinvest into improving the quality and safety of the network.

Ultra-fast data processing/Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM)

To deliver the 5G benefits at scale, operators need to deploy Mobile Edge solutions which bring the end-user closer to the mobile core, thus realising ultra-low latency, ultra-fast data processing and hence the full potential of 5G.

Private networks, either 4G or 5G, can achieve this but with 5G, network slicing will make it even easier to prioritise certain users or uses, with operators able to assign guaranteed slices of the network. Even if a network goes down for everyone else, emergency services – for example, would still be able to use it. This provides economies of scale and opens up even more safety-critical use cases.

Cellular Vehicle to everything services (C-V2X) could for example be one network “slice” enabling:

  • Emergency hazard warning between autonomous and connected vehicles,
  • Improved adaptive and emergency breaking
  • Rapid download of HD mapping data
  • Realisation of Vehicle to Pedestrian safety services
  • Improved vehicle to infrastructure service performance for connected, semi and fully autonomous vehicles

Network of networks

Realising these benefits while at the same time meeting people’s need to be always connected, to have constant access to fast internet for work, information, and entertainment not only at home and but also on the move requires connectivity everywhere – even at hard-to-reach areas. Indeed, the UK Government aspires to deliver nationwide gigabit-capable broadband as soon as possible and is aiming for most of the population to have 5G coverage by 2030.

The advent of 5G is certainly an opportunity to connect both people and the systems on which our transport networks rely, wherever they are. But while there are no insurmountable technical barriers to doing so, making the most of the opportunity will require a new mindset.

Instead of relying solely on the traditional mobile network operators to bring coverage to an area, network operators/service providers, vehicle manufacturers, and road operators need to work together.

Ubiquitous connectivity enabled by 5G is the real changemaker here. For example, one can have low earth orbit (LEO) satellites complementing terrestrial public or private 5G networks providing secure and resilient PNT (Positioning, Navigation and Timing) for advanced CAM services, such as collision avoidance, that require ultra-precise timing and location of vehicles.

A network of networks that allows anyone to be connected anywhere with a quality of service that meets their needs is the future. The first steps to realising this future have already begun with the rollout of 5G-SA core networks, trials involving the use of satellite 5G-technology and the acceleration of the delivery of nationwide gigabit-capable connectivity.

Investing in digitisation offers great added value – Thomas Leopoldseder, Q Point

Investing in digitisation offers great added value – Thomas Leopoldseder, Q Point

Thomas Leopoldseder, CEO of Q Point, unpacks the potential of digital solutions within the road construction process.

Through the digitalization of business processes, internally or together with business partners, decisive competitive advantages can be achieved – construction projects can be completed on time and with the highest quality and at the same time economically. There is additional potential for resource-saving road construction in the optimization of the overall process.

Many studies still show that the construction industry has a low level of digitization compared to other branches of industry. At the same time, the construction industry is characterized by an extreme price war and digitization would help to design processes in a cost-optimal manner, improve work results and increase quality. Diversified value-added areas, heterogeneous devices and system landscapes as well as area and project thinking that has been shaped over decades, coupled with a low willingness to change based on past successes, present the greatest challenges for the industry today. Digital solutions and the networking of data create a level of transparency in individual processes that is not always desirable. This transparency or, in other words, the project-wide and sometimes cross-project availability of data and information, is the basis for the new form of cooperation and thus the basis for relevant effects on resources, costs and emissions.

Today, processes, requirements and use of resources based on their specification, availability and costs are optimally calculated using intelligent process systems during the calculation and planning. The relevant information is available to all executors and those involved in a role-specific manner. Updates on the status and a comparison with the original plan are made available to all those involved in the implementation, regardless of location. This increases the planning and execution security for everyone and supports the resource-optimal use of people, machines, and materials.

Some examples of resource-saving work through digital process support:

  • Digital implementation planning leads to the optimal deployment and utilization of personnel, machines and materials.
  • Digital order management creates higher commitments and the basis for more efficient production and logistics planning
  • Optimized number and types of trucks for asphalt logistics reduce costs, cycles and emissions.
  • Dynamic adjustments during implementation always ensure the best possible project success.
  • Digital assistance systems for comprehensive compaction control (CCC) reduce the operating times of machines and personnel and lead to the highest quality.

The reduction of waste of resources and the simultaneous fight against the lack of skilled workers is made possible by the networking of people, systems and processes. With its solutions, Q Point creates the necessary connections for the intelligent road construction of the future. Achieving more together through effectively used transparency of the relevant data. This promotes trust and cooperation as the basis for more successful, less waste on the construction from which everyone benefits. This includes the entire value chain, from the client to contractors and subcontractors, as well as suppliers and consumers. Efficiency and sustainability through transparency lead to WIN-WIN-WIN.

You can find more information about the digital solutions from Q Point here: https://q-point.com/en/

Dr. Thomas Leopoldseder, Managing Director | CEO Q Point Group will present the digital solutions for road construction at Highways UK. Get in touch and visit Q Point at booth H28

Do standards stifle innovation? – Andy Fish, 3M

Do standards stifle innovation? – Andy Fish, 3M

Andy Fish, technical specialist for 3M’s Transportation Safety Division, looks at how to encourage innovation in a regulated market. 

As someone who has sat on many standard setting committees and industry bodies, across several industries, I have often pondered why things are the way they are.

Standards play an important role in many industries; and in a market that is primarily focused on safety, they are critical. As such, standards set out to do many things, including providing a common description of product types, set minimum levels of performance, describe classes of useful performance, identify testing methods, and provide tools for the certification of products.

All the above are intended to ensure that the supplied product is suitable for purpose and enable the purchaser to make an informed decision based on a true comparison.

However, like all things, there are negative aspects to standards. While some of these are easily solved, others are not so straightforward.

Arguably the most challenging aspect is time. Standards take a long time to come to fruition, they are often many years in the making – and even small amendments can take an extraordinary length of time to be published. Meanwhile, many product manufacturers are improving their designs and finding new ways to improve performance with technology that did not exist when the underlying standard was first drafted. This lag ultimately means that the end user does not benefit for years, sometimes decades.

Sometimes standards are worded in such a way that they actively exclude new innovations by calling out a specific technology rather than a performance characteristic. As an example, the current standard for permanent traffic signs contains tables for the performance of retroreflective sheeting, one of which specifically refers to materials constructed with glass beaded reflectors. Specifying a technology in this way prevents new technologies being used. After all it should not matter how the material is constructed the end user probably does not care if it is made with glass beads or fairy dust. What matters is how it performs. Does it do the job it is supposed to do?

These things happen because people tend to think about what they know, the current state-of-the-art solution. To paraphrase Henry Ford, if you asked people what they wanted 100 or so years ago they would not have said “a car” they would have said “a faster horse that eats less hay” as this is what they knew at the time. The underlying need was to get from A to B, cheaply and quickly.

When authoring standards, we need to be focused on the purpose of the product and, most importantly, what that means to the end user, NOT what is currently possible with today’s technology, and NOT what the majority of manufacturers can make.

Of course, there are ways to accelerate the implementation of new technologies by conducting trials and creating test beds, for example, but this requires more cooperation from all parties.

Manufacturers need to clearly identify the benefits of their nascent technology and purchasers need to be clear on their needs alongside being more open to try something different that might just be more effective.

While we cannot predict the future, we can do much more to ensure that the consumer gets the best possible product by focusing on what the customer needs, not the industry’s current capability.


Inclusive Infrastructure Solutions – Mathew Haslam, Hardscapes

Inclusive Infrastructure Solutions – Mathew Haslam, Hardscapes

Mathew Haslam, managing director at Hardscape outlines their extensive product range with the UK’s largest selection of Connectivity Solutions Products.

Proudly independent and with over 25 years of expertise in pushing the boundaries of hard landscaping, Hardscape is driven by innovation and the ambition of providing environmentally conscious hard landscaping. Its latest range is integrated infrastructure design solutions which are used to create an improved health and wellbeing environment safe for cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles.

Our kerb range is available with different slopes, end styles, widths, depths, gradients, and radii which provide a practical purpose in both form and function, in a variety of colours in standard concrete, natural stone and Kellen Lavaro finishes.

Renowned for leading the way, bringing inspiration and innovation from around the globe, Hardscape provide Landscape Architects and Specifiers with unrivalled quality and function in a range of natural and man-made materials.

The Future of Inclusive Infrastructure Solutions.

2020 saw an unprecedented change in public behaviour in the UK, and throughout the world; in particular, during lockdown, the levels of walking and cycling increased and have remained high following the lifting of these restrictions. As a result, the UK government, influenced by the success of Dutch cycling, have fast tracked the statutory guidance, indicating local authorities should reallocate road space to accommodate significantly increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians, providing a safe way for all age groups to use healthier methods of transportation.

The extensive research, detailed specification, and implementation of Hardscape’s new range of ‘Inclusive Infrastructure Solutions’ is reflective of Hardscape’s DNA and its commitment to environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG). Hardscape also see this as the natural next step in how external space designers, engineers and planners redesign landscapes with cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles in mind, creating an urban environment that all users can share space equitably and safely.

Paving the way with Dutch inspired policy and design.

Since the 1970s the Dutch have mastered creating a safer environment, inviting cycling and people to safely share existing travel infrastructure. For the Dutch to achieve this environmentally friendly connectivity strategy they have developed intelligent, logical, coherent kerb systems for actively segregating transport modes and methods.

Working with Dutch product solutions for over 20 years, Hardscape have the knowledge and distribution networks to now bring this innovative product range to the UK market.

Offering extensive options for every conceivable project, Hardscape’s new range bridges the gap between optimum design and attractive infrastructure spaces making them accessible for all.

“We are introducing these products to the UK with the support and impetus of the UK government’s wellbeing principles and directives. We hope to inspire the next generation of connected towns and cities that are brave in specification and designed to bring a long-lasting benefit for us all.” – Mathew Haslam- Managing Director, Hardscape.  

Discover more about Hardscape’s Inclusive Infrastructure Solutions.

The breadth of material types, from natural stone, traditional concrete, and natural stone aggregate finishes strengthens Hardscape’s position as the principal paving provider for every application. Hardscape also offers a reduced carbon range of green paving solutions, with its CERO brand; CERO uses a geo-polymer material to replace concrete reducing carbon impact by up to 50%.

To discuss this dynamic and ever-expanding range of Inclusive Infrastructure Solutions products visit: