Intelligent Compaction Innovation technology makes an impact on road building

Finning UK & Ireland, Galliford Try, National Highways, road construction, technolgy, UK,


New Intelligent Compaction Innovation technology trialled by the National Highways, Finning and Galliford Try partnership will speed up road construction and improve safety.

The first-of-a-kind technology takes the ‘guesswork’ out of compaction making sure the heavy plant gets the job done first time ensuring safe and durable foundations in road building.

As part of a commitment to developing and promoting Connected and Autonomous Plant, National Highways teamed up with partners Finning UK & Ireland and Galliford Try to trial the Intelligent Compaction innovation.

It was put to the test on a scheme in the South West being carried out by Galliford Try where National Highways is upgrading a stretch of the A303 between Sparkford and Ilchester to dual carriageway.

Compaction is one of the first activities to happen on site so any issues can impact the whole construction programme and increase costs. Intelligent Compaction provides reassurance that there is the required strength in the foundation and work can progress.

Using 3D mapping and a sophisticated sensor system, the technology ensures that the right level of compaction is achieved first time and spots any uneven areas which could cause settlement issues down the line.

“We are constantly exploring new innovative ways to design, build and maintain our roads and are committed to making connected and autonomous plant the norm in construction. We believe that embracing innovation is the path to more efficient and safer projects,” says National Highways Head of Innovation Claire Hamar.

“A huge positive that we discovered in the Intelligent Compaction trial was the improved efficiency and environmental benefits – as work did not need to be repeated so, thanks to the reduced fuel use, we had reduced carbon,” National Highways Head of Innovation Claire Hamar.

“Not only is the work completed more quickly saving resources and taxpayers’ money but, most importantly, it improves safety and reduces risk,” National Highways Head of Innovation Claire Hamar.

Finning is the world’s largest dealer of Cat equipment. The machines used in the trial are fitted with Cat machine drive power technology and Cat compaction meter value.

Using these features, the driver is able to set the target depth and compaction level required via a user-friendly interface in the cab. This enables the operator to pre-set the drive functions so the roller is automated and operates within the required parameters. This ensures the task is completed safely and eliminates the need for a worker to be out on site during the compaction process to check the levels.

“Technology increases performance and operational efficiency with the machine operating effectively with reduced fuel consumption. Cat soil compactors have two types of sensors that measure the ground stiffness as well as an accelerometer base system, which is common in the industry, and complemented by a proprietary rolling resistance system so it works particularly well in cohesive and clay like material which is common across the UK,” says Industrial, Waste and Paving at Finning UK & Ireland Industry Manager Jonathan Davies.

“Without the use of such technology, the only way to be sure of the compaction level across a site is through random testing, which can cause delays on site and safety issues,” says Industrial, Waste and Paving at Finning UK & Ireland Industry Manager Jonathan Davies.

“We were delighted to be able to demonstrate our commitment to innovation through the collaborative delivery of this research trial. We believe that connected and autonomous plant has the potential to transform construction over the coming years, improving safety and productivity while reducing carbon emissions,” says Galliford Innovation and Research Lead Jon de Souza.

“We look forward to continuing our work with National Highways to trial this technology across our infrastructure delivery,” says Galliford Innovation and Research Lead Jon de Souza.

Funding for the trial came from National Highway’s Innovation and Modernisation designated fund. This is one of four funds focused on making a positive difference for people, the economy and planet. From 2020 to 2025 we’re investing £936m from the four ring-fenced funds which are Innovation and Modernisation, Safety and Congestion, Environment and Wellbeing and Users and Communities.

Source: National Highways 2024

Image Source: National Highways 2024

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