“I have been involved with the pilot of RedBite’s technology since the beginning and have seen the potential it has to revolutionise the process of managing our wide variety of highway assets. Innovative technology such as RedBite Asset will benefit road users, as well as current and future maintenance contractors”
What are Smart Highways?
You’ve probably heard of just about Smart-everything by now, from Smart Fridges and Smart Meters to Smart Parking, Smart Cities and, ultimately, a Smart World. The ubiquitous expression has become widely used within the context of the Internet of Things (IoT). Smart (insert any word here), essentially refers to the Internet, sensors and other auto identification (Auto-ID) technologies being utilised so that everyday objects can finally ‘speak’ to us and ‘intelligence’, of varying degrees, is enabled in and is extractable from the everyday things around us.
The useful applications of Smart technologies are seemingly endless. Our intelligent software is currently being used to allow airports to track and manage their airside vehicles and assets more efficiently, assisting facilities managers in keeping on top of all assets and their maintenance schedules and more recently on a stretch of the A160 highway in the UK to allow for more convenient and efficient management and maintenance of highway assets.
As part of an £88.4 million A160 Port of Immingham Improvement Scheme project, Costain, Highways England and A-one+ sought a solution that would:
- Provide access to BIM information on-site
- Reduce unnecessary on-site visits
- Increase efficiency of the maintenance process
- Improve the accuracy of the assessment of the condition of the assets
- Assist with locating and deploying equipment during the construction process
- Allow for better monitoring of assets in the future – particularly once an asset has been handed over to the maintainers.
The Port of Immingham is one of the largest ports in the UK by tonnage, handling some 10% of the UK’s cargo market. “With such heavy usage on the assets, wear and tear is inevitable. By utilising and refining a system where we can record and maintain a large amount of data on a range of assets, we can potentially deliver huge benefits through increased accessibility to and accuracy of the state of those assets,” said Graham Starkey, Costain BIM Coordinator on the project.
RedBite Asset, a smartphone centred asset management solution, is helping Costain to achieve this. The system involves ‘tagging’ each asset, providing them with an asset page and a whole bunch of features that provide a framework for more efficient asset management. The tagging aspect is simple enough. In most cases, we use a robust, physical tag and attach it to the asset. For this project, a combination of RFID tags and QR codes have been used. For some assets, a non-physical tag is more suitable, such as using an asset’s GPS coordinates to create a virtual tag. Each tag links to a URL where the asset’s profile page can be accessed remotely and it is here that all data relating to the asset is stored and contributed to.
Q. What assets are there to tag on a highway? A. Surprisingly, a large amount and variety of assets that range from the road itself and the sections which have been resurfaced, as well as street lights, signposts, gullies and culverts. All of these assets have been tagged as part of this project.
The deployment, which began in May 2015, is being led by Graham Starkey, the Costain Building Information Modelling (BIM) Coordinator on the project.
“BIM is so crucial to what we do and its deployment is now a prerequisite to winning work. The more information we can gather about a particular asset in the field will ultimately help the customer manage those assets,” said Graham.
RedBite Asset provides operators with access to a broad range of information and BIM data while onsite and even while working offline in more remote locations. The initial pilot will also help to establish what data is necessary and useful to operators.
In addition to BIM data, Asset provides access to full historical maintenance records while onsite and the ability to instantly add new information to create accurate, real-time records. In addition, asset owners can be alerted when faults are reported against their assets and records can be viewed and edited by different parties in collaboration.
RedBite is a member of the HyperCat Consortium which is driving secure and interoperable Internet of Things (IoT) for industry and cities. We are leading the Smart Highways use case and are partnering with Costain in order to develop a practical understanding of the challenges and benefits of tagging assets on a busy highway.