Better maintenance is on the Horizon for UK’s Warrington Council
First publishedon www.WorldHighways.com
Warrington Borough Council, in the north of England, has nearly 1,200km of roads valued at more than US$1 billion (£744 million)
Good, readable analysis of road surfaces to ensure sufficient maintenance funding is an essential part of asset management.
The technical side of ensuring a good road surface is integral to maintaining safe, superior highway infrastructure. But securing sufficient government funding for such work – repairs and new-build – based on the current road surface is also essential. To evaluate road conditions and structure for such a business case, one UK local council turned to software provider Yotta.
Warrington Borough Council, in the north of England, has nearly 1,200km of roads valued at more than US$1 billion (£744 million). The council is currently investing more in preventative maintenance. To achieve this, the council has implemented Yotta’s Horizons visualised asset management platform to prove the business case on the understanding that it was on an “invest to save” basis.
“We used it to provide impact analysis, identify optimum planned maintenance budgets; produce evidence-based reporting and develop forward programmes for approval,” explains Jim Turton, engineering and flood risk manager at Warrington. “This process played a key part in preparing a bid for extra government funding and proving the business case for the council to use prudential borrowing to maintain our most valuable asset, our road network,” he says.
Yotta was initially engaged to run a series of surveys for Warrington to gather key data on the condition of roads and footways across the borough as well as helping to document the council’s record of reactive maintenance. These included SCANNER (Surface Condition Assessment of the National Network of Roads), CVI (Coarse Visual Inspection) and FNS (Footway Network Survey) inspections.
The surveys generated robust data around which maintenance decisions together with strategic asset management planning were made. Once all the rich data about the status of the highways network had been generated, however, the next step was to interpret it and produce plans for maintenance works programmes.
“We now needed a solution capable of analysing a wide range of data including maintenance data, accident information and records of public complaints,” notes Turton.
In Horizon’s favour was its user-friendliness, “an intuitive system”. Data can quickly be accessed to check and identify road and footway condition whenever necessary. Data can also be accessed at different levels including network, local area or individual road and footway.
Easy to understand visuals are all-important in asset software
One of the first projects upon which Horizons was deployed was the council’s bid for extra government funding. The software clearly demonstrated how much the council could save by using the fund to enhance future management of the highways network.
By investing in preventative maintenance and reducing spend on reactive works such as pothole repairs, Warrington aims to cut the cost to the local economy of traffic accidents in order to show significant savings.
Yotta worked closely with the council to produce an initial appraisal of the Future Highway Funding Strategies report. The report, created using Horizons software with support from Yotta’s consultants, provided crucial evidence to support the funding bid. It included impact analysis for different investment strategies and the identification of optimum planned maintenance budgets to prevent further deterioration of the network.
The Prudential Borrowing Strategy Report actively leveraged the road survey data generated by Yotta. Working together, Yotta and Warrington integrated this data within Horizons to produce sample outputs for appraisal and acceptance prior to running the full analysis.
Using Horizons, several scenarios were considered based on Warrington’s priorities and budget options to identify the best approach to achieve the highest benefit-to-cost ratio. These included steady-state analysis and spend of existing budget, as well as the additional funding needed over three- and five-year terms. Horizons uses sophisticated algorithms when undertaking scenario analysis to produce the most cost-effective programme of works.
“This work helped to produce a clear, understandable and robust evidence based report and strategy to enable the asset management team to bid for extra government funding and to prove a business case for the council to use prudential borrowing to invest in infrastructure on a partial ‘invest to save’ basis,” says Turton.
The council, working with Yotta, demonstrated potential maintenance savings as well as the positive impact the requested funding would upon residents, businesses and visitors to Warrington. “Likewise, we could highlight the potential negative impact for citizens, businesses and the council that would arise without the additional funding.”
Know your network: Yotta's Horizon pinpoints assets
The data generated from Horizons is now being widely used - in conjunction with the council’s own engineering expertise – to inform long-term planning and prioritisation of maintenance. Thanks to the rich visualisation functionality of the solution, says Turton, Horizons also supports the need for further funding as and when required.
“Horizons’s high-quality visualisation capabilities make it a great presentation tool. We use it to engage closely with all our stakeholders and clearly show how different options for maintenance will impact on the future condition of the whole network.”
The council can also quickly drill down into the data to look at everything in detail - from one individual road to the entire highways network. This allows the team to answer queries from council members about strategic asset management plans or specific works programmes.
Importantly for the council, it allows Warrington’s officials to quickly and precisely to address complaints from the public. This helps council members and residents to understand the logic and complexity of road scheme selection.
Warrington is also using of Horizons to pull out key information it needs for a sound legal defence against insurance claims. This ability to pin-point data demonstrates that the council is delivering a sound asset management approach.
With the initial work completed, firm foundations have been put in place for the evolution of the Horizons approach over time. Warrington can readily upload new data to inform the decision-making process as and when surveys are completed, enabling them to re-run analysis and develop new programmes of work as needed.