Having scooped the Innovation Award for Winter Maintenance at the APSE Highways Innovation Awards, Maureen Ward, Engineer - Highways Technical Services at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, reveals the secrets to her team’s success.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council are responsible for the maintenance of over 3500km of carriageway, of which 1955 km are on the winter treatment network. Treatments are provided by 17 spreaders based across 4 depots.
In recent years, there has been a continued drive to maintain the exemplary service standards which East Riding residents and businesses expect and rely on. For the 2022/23 season, Winter Services were tasked to enhance the level of treatment of the secondary network by changing the treatment trigger point from freezing conditions forecast beyond 12:00 to 08:00. Practically, this change would mean that, in an average season, the number of secondary network treatments likely would potentially rise from 8 to 40.
The changes required to facilitate the delivery of this service enhancement were wide reaching and would not normally be deliverable in the short time that we had available. Pragmatic solutions were devised to enable the required level of service to be delivered in the 2022/23 season. The project work was undertaken in-house by Winter Services, Highway Technical Services and our Vehicle Maintenance Unit.
Effective project management controls were operated throughout to ensure programme progression to a very tight 6-month deadline.
The approach agreed needed to consider increased delivery range, optimisation of existing treatment network, production of efficient, deliverable routes together with driver hours compliance.
Working with Aebi-Schmidt we ensured weight compliance of the spreaders. A maximum treatment range for the Concurrent Network was calculated at 105km at 21g/m2 maintaining the existing 17 route treatment network structure. This would be achieved by the addition of an 850l brine tank fitted where the front gantry was located; giving a total of 3860 litres of brine carried and an effective route treatment range of around 105km.
Extensive work was undertaken to rationalise the existing secondary network allowing for route optimisation by focusing more exclusively on inter community connective roads and routeing as extensions to the precautionary routes creating a concurrent network (total treatment length 1700km). The orecautionary routes have, in some cases, been redefined to provide more balanced treatment delivery but network coverage remained unchanged from last season.
It was known that the concurrent routes would take longer to deliver. However, it was intended that all routes would fall within a 4-hour treatment duration. In the initial stages of testing the treatment time, drivers were stood down from their regular duties for 2 hours to ensure appropriate compliance.
The project encountered some barriers to progression:
Further service benefits gained through this project:
Enhanced route-based forecasting procured with a view to reducing the possibility of unnecessary treatments over all networks in the future
Alternative sheeting rope system installed on each vehicle allowing the closing of load covers from ground level
Out of hours standby shifts were redefined with overlapping periods to allow for greater treatment delivery flexibility
The overall impact has seen improved public perception in the service and overall service efficiency savings in terms of labour, fuel consumption and salt usage. A further benefit of this innovation is in the project’s environmental credentials in reduced CO2 emissions by no longer separately treating the precautionary and secondary networks.
Many challenges were faced. However, we have very motivated staff within the Winter and Highways Technical Service teams and, together with the support of Fleet/VMU, we rose to and delivered this challenge with all the new routes loaded into the spreader Autologic units ready for the challenges of the winter season. We are now keen to benefit from driver comment and feedback as this can form the basis of future service delivery process planning.Feedback from Members and the general public has been tremendous, recognising the improvements in their local area.
• East Riding of Yorkshire Council received their Innovation Award in Winter Maintenance at the APSE Highways, Street Lighting and Winter Maintenance Seminar 2023. You can download presentations from the event here.