Manufacturing giant JCB has hosted a Highways Management Day at its world headquarters in Staffordshire, attended by a range of highways authorities and contractors.
On the table for discussion was a range of key issues, including scarce capacity and the best use of equipment.
The JCB Hydradig
In attendance was Highways England’s supply chain team leader, Paul Whitehead, who heads up a committee bringing together key players in the construction equipment sector to look at emerging machines and technology and also to identify how highways clients can get the best out of what’s available.
Mr Whitehead said: ‘We’re delivering the biggest investment in our roads in a generation and need to ensure that we need are doing so efficiently. We are required to make efficiency savings of £1.2bn over this roads period – up to 2020 – and we need to challenge ourselves and our supply chain to deliver these savings.
‘What needs to be done in the demand area is to make sure that existing plant is utilised efficiently. Utilisation is a really important issue. We need to consider how we use resources that are available to drive productivity, and we also want to focus on innovation, and how we can adopt new and more efficient ways of working.’
Mr Whitehead stressed the need for the sector to work as one, stating ‘we can’t solve the industry’s challenges alone – we do need to work together, and we need to work in closer collaboration with one another’.
The event was also a first chance for many highways managers to see JCB’s new Hydradig wheeled excavator, launched earlier this year and developed for urban construction and highway maintenance through consultation with local authorities, highways contractors and plant hire companies.
JCB said the product has been very popular with both highways authorities and utilities, and put its success down to a number of factors including ‘excellent visibility around the machine and a low centre of gravity - enabling stable lifting and excellent travel speeds of up to 40 km/h between jobs sites’.
It also features all wheel steer system, which allows it to operate within a single carriageway.
Also on display were two versions of JCB’s Pothole Master – the standard model based on a 3CX backhoe loader, and the 3CX Compact version launched last year and designed specifically for work in busy urban environments or tight country lanes.
The news comes after Powys County Council invested almost £450,000 in JCB compact equipment, including JCB mini excavators, skid steer loaders and tandem vibratory rollers.