Walsall Council in the UK’s west Midlands region, its highways partner Tarmac and software developer KaarbonTech have won a prestigious national award for an innovative tool that improves drainage maintenance and reduces roadway flood risk.
The partners have secured the annual Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) Asset Management Award. The new collaboratively-developed digital system allows the Council and other asset owners, including Severn Trent Water, to instantly share and communicate detailed information about the town’s network of drains and gulleys. This has resulted in maintenance teams being able to identify drainage faults before they become more serious, resolve issues faster, and reduce the chances of disruption on local roads due to flooding. The success of the innovation has meant the technology has since been shared with other councils and water utility companies across the country.
The partnership between Walsall Council and Tarmac to deliver an efficient highways maintenance program was founded in 2009 with the strategic objectives of reducing costs, failure rates and protracted timescales for repairs. As well as providing drainage maintenance, Tarmac is also responsible for services including pothole repairs, carriageway surfacing, winter maintenance and highways emergency support. Tarmac has been using KaarbonTech’s Gully Smart management software in Walsall with outstanding results. Before the software was implemented, were only 13% of the drainage network was touched by the gulley team. With managed data the crews were able to move from 55 visits to 130 a day, enabling them to visit 98% of the assets in the year.
“Gulleys aren’t known for glamour, but this award recognizes how our new technology is delivering significant and measurable improvements to the borough’s roads,” said Peter Hyde, highway services director at Tarmac. “For 10 years we have been responsible for over 500 miles of roads across Walsall, and the strength of our partnership with the Council has seen us achieve considerable savings by regularly introducing innovative techniques and modern processes.”
Adrian Andrew, deputy leader of Walsall Council, said, “This is a great example of how the highways maintenance team has been moving towards digital transformation and embracing emerging technologies to deliver an efficient and effective service and maximize the best use of resources.”