What is an intelligent client?


I believe that highways maintenance - actually maintaining the road pavements of the network - is not that difficult if you know what you are doing.

It is a sad reflection that from my point of view not many people do know what they are doing, when it comes to creating and maintaining a safe durable highway network in a cost effective manner.

This means knowing the nature of the road pavement that you are looking to carry out maintenance work on, and the options of materials (bituminous mixtures) and procedures that you can employ to achieve a good, safe, durable standard of work.

A highways team/department that contains engineers and technicians with this knowledge is what I refer to as an 'intelligent client'.

I have constructed this short article because I have just found and read a presentation of what somebody else thinks is an 'intelligent client', all I can say is that this 'official' (it is sponsored by a body that reckons to be bringing efficiency to the industry) idea of a modern 'intelligent client' and my version are worlds apart. I really do not know who in this new interpretation will actually be doing the work.

Probably the supplier/contractor who has made the best presentation to this new version of an 'intelligent client', who probably has very little actual 'intelligence' on materials and highways construction/maintenance.

What I can surmise is that there will be many meetings and working parties before the work actually starts, all the while sucking money out of the budget that could be better spent on the road pavements.

It would be unfair on individuals to actually give examples of poor 'unintelligent' decisions, but they are quite clearly in evidence all around us. I know the argument of lack of funds, which I whole heartedly agree with on local highway networks, but even so with the considerable cost of some of these schemes, a real 'intelligent client' could have made a much better job and much better use of the funds available.

Chris Summers is a retired highways engineer and runs www.highwaysmaintenance.com

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