AgileAssets Provides New Road Management Tool for M25 London Motorway

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AgileAssets, a thought leading software company, rooted in Texas, now enters the European market with the deliverance of asset management tools to the caretakers of one of the world's most important traffic arteries. Mr. Stuart Hudson, CEO of AgileAssets and Mr. Brian Johns, MD of the Connect Plus Services, explain how the software tool helps ensure the best value for their infrastructure investments.

Stuart Hudson, President of AgileAssets

The European market is very interesting and I am confident that we can assist the decision makers to provide the best possible infrastructure for the budgets available.

Millions of pounds are spent annually on providing safety and mobility to users of road assets. The task of providing the right level of service without interrupting traffic flow, while keeping costs under control is not simple. In fact, asset management is a complex discipline that requires both engineering know-how and financial skills. To meet this challenge, Connect Plus Services, responsible for the management of the M25, its key arterial link roads, and the A282 Dartford-Thurrock River Crossing, has recently acquired a new software tool from the American company AgileAssets Inc.

In 2009, the Highways Agency awarded Connect Plus a 30-year contract to design, build, finance and operate the M25. Connect Plus is a consortium including Balfour Beatty, Skanska, Atkins and Egis. The operations and maintenance of the network are carried out by Connect Plus Services. One contractual consideration was the deployment of a fully functional asset management system to assist secure deliverance of the best possible structural conditions within budgets. With more than £6 billion invested in the DBFO contract, including the widening of several stretches of the M25, return on investments is a key topic for all parties.

“Our Trade-Off Analyst software is a decision optimisation tool for more effective funding allocations across programs and asset types. It enables managers of large road and bridge infrastructures to foresee and plan for necessary investments many years ahead to achieve higher performance and investment return. Properly used it can maximise the road operator’s performance by analyzing different periods and project constraints and point them towards the best decision,” says CEO of AgileAssets, Stuart Hudson. “In the US we supply 40% of the States with our software, which currently manages 57% of the US National Highway System and the feedback is very positive. We have seen multiple examples of US state road administrations that have saved hundreds of millions of dollars by deploying AgileAssets’ analysis tools to their business methods and decision processes.”

Brian Johns, Managing Director at Connect Plus Services says “I am excited about incorporating the new decision support tools into our management procedures. The value bound in the infrastructure we manage is immense and huge investments are needed to achieve the best possible results. The consortium has the ability and specialisation to perform all aspects of infrastructure operations but we can always get smarter and more efficient, to the benefit of our stakeholders and to the benefit of the daily commuter.”

“We try to collate financial, practical and strategic issues into one systematic approach. The long-term contract we have with Highways England provides us with an opportunity to plan ahead and make vital decisions on when and where to replace assets. A significant investment into this new system by Connect Plus Services enables our expert team to perform advanced analysis, produce work plans and visualisations of the road condition, years before wear and tear calls for the repair teams to go into action. This allows us to keep the roads open and to meet our customers’ expectations.”

For Stuart Hudson the collaboration with Connect Plus Services is very fascinating: “The European market is very interesting in terms of diverse infrastructure and a high level of public transport and co-modality. I am confident that we can assist the decision makers here in their effort to provide the best possible infrastructure for the budgets available.”

The tool, which is really a piece of software, works by collecting thousands of data from the assets (roads, bridges, signs, culverts, etc) into a custom-made dashboard, from where engineers and managers can perform advanced calculations of the consequences of different approaches – the so-called “what-if scenarios.” Budgets are always an issue in terms of prioritizing actions, but so are traffic intensity, environmental impact and the safety of road workers and users. Highways England has set standards for these and many other issues, known as service conditions, which have to be met within the contract. The scenarios allow the road managers to invest wisely and deploy the right work plans at the right time. And as new and more data come pouring in – even from the cars themselves – new perspectives open up to predict the needs and strategies of the infrastructure. This is called Big Data and the DST is one way of handling this.

Connect Plus Services is a partnership of Balfour Beatty, Atkins and Egis Road Operation UK and brings together the maintenance and operations capabilities of Balfour Beatty and Atkins combined with the international maintenance and operations expertise of Egis Road Operation UK. Connect Plus Services carries out routine maintenance, as well as managing the whole life requirement of the asset. We also manage the operation of the network, including the Dartford River Crossing and identify ways of reducing delays and improving journey time reliability. Our unique Network Operations Centre delivers real-time coordinated control of on-road resources, monitoring and capturing all aspects of network performance.

AgileAssets is the leading global provider of infrastructure asset management software solutions for public agencies. AgileAssets’ comprehensive, integrated software suite helps agencies throughout the world maximize asset condition, maintenance budgets and long-term lifecycles. With more than 28 years of experience, research and education expertise, AgileAssets is a recognised leader in helping overcome ever-present budget constraints to make you more effective and your agency more successful. For additional information, please visit: http://www.agileassets.com.

The Highways Agency became Highways England on 1 April 2015 and is a government company.

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Barry Raskin

Kelly Regan-Mears
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