A Collaborative Culture Delivers Easier Maintenance and Greater Value for Highways
One of the clearest illustrations of what we mean by value engineering in highways projects comes when you examine the balance between project delivery and future maintenance costs.
Simply put, the quickest and cheapest way to deliver a highways improvement, new bridge or other project may create the biggest headaches for those who will be responsible for future maintenance. In the modern world this isn’t good enough.
Too often in the past, questions about future maintenance just haven’t been asked. Issues such as the effectiveness of drainage systems and whether they are likely to become blocked by erosion of embankments or surrounding land didn’t get enough consideration.
Where services are installed within or alongside structures, not enough thought has gone into how these could be accessed more easily in future.
Long term value and cost reduction demands that these and other maintenance issues are considered in the way projects are designed and executed.
Collaboration throughout the highways community is essential. The people responsible for maintenance need to be included in the planning wherever possible so their needs can be identified and met. Contractors also need the flexibility to design projects to meet the broader needs of maintenance teams and asset users.
Reducing maintenance needs means making full use of technology. BIM provides the environment in which collaboration can happen efficiently based around detailed 3D models of the proposed project. Potential maintenance issues and clashes can be identified and addressed early, using the expertise of all partners.
BIM also supports the handover of accurate and detailed as-built data, which is an invaluable resource for planning future works and maintenance. Greater awareness in project delivery teams is also essential. The goals of site teams need to be aligned with the customer’s goals of value and reduced long-term costs. They then have a better frame of reference for making decisions and resolving practical issues on site.
With the right tools, culture and approach to procurement there’s every reason to be optimistic that greater value and reduced disruption for road users will follow. It’s just a question of thinking, planning and working differently with the right goals in mind.