Highway Care, Kier and Highways England’s award entry for the Automated Cone laying Machine (ALCM) has been shortlisted for the Highways UK 2020 Civils and Materials Innovation Competition in the safety category. Highways UK will be a virtual event with the Civils and Materials Hub taking place on "Materials Monday" 2nd November.
The ultimate objective of the ACLM is to revolutionise TM across the highways network, remove the workforce from harm and make the task both quicker and more efficient, with a collaborative project team working for the benefit of end-users and road worker safety. In addition, the project team like many others, has dealt with the impact of Coronavirus in a crucial stage of project delivery. The impacts were felt widely across the team, with technical teams based across Europe, with technical meetings switching to remote settings and technology development and testing taking into account social distancing and shift working to ensure on-time delivery.
Along with their Innovation Partner, Innovate UK, Highways UK run two annual innovation competitions that in a normal year would culminate in live finals at Highways UK The Civils and Materials Innovation Hub, sponsored by AECOM, focuses on innovative solutions used in the construction and maintenance of highways including physical products, components, systems, processes and materials.
Using a computing analogy, think of the Intelligent Infrastructure Challenge to be about software and the Civils and Materials Innovation Hub to be the hardware.
In both competitions they are particularly looking for innovations that have the potential to be trialled on a UK road within the next 6-18 months.
The competitions offer an opportunity for organisations, to pitch ideas to senior highways sector clients and industry experts.
The category winners and overall winning organisation will be offered a high-level half day mentoring session led by Highways England and including other key industry organisations who will offer in depth advice on the processes involved in taking your innovation to the next level.
The ACLM is out on the road currently being trialled, on the strategic road network on both the A5 and M54 in Shropshire. Further testing is set to take place on the M4 in Berkshire later this month.
Speaking about the trials, which took place just a matter of weeks ago, Highways England Head of Lean and Continuous Improvement Martin Bolt, who oversees the project, said:
“The implications of these vehicles in protecting the safety of workers are immense and we are delighted that testing is progressing so well. By taking the human element out of laying cones we are eliminating one of the greatest risks for road workers.
“We have received a lot of support from the industry as a whole for the automated vehicle and we are now getting some very positive feedback from those workers who have been trialling the Highways Care prototype on the live roads network.
“If this testing proves as successful as we anticipate it will, motorists could be spotting more of these automated cone laying vehicles on the roads by the end of the year.”