Four of the five local authorities in the Tyne & Wear region: (Gateshead, Newcastle, Sunderland and South Tyneside) source highways asset management services from Causeway. All four are operationally independent but also work collaboratively as part of the Tyne & Wear group; the North East Combined Authority group (NECA) and the Tyneside and Teesside group.
This collaboration makes sense, not just because of the councils’ geographical proximity but also because their road network lengths and usage levels are similar.
Causeway has a longstanding relationship of between ten-to-fifteen years with these councils. In each case, it began with UKPMS highway surveys Causeway conducted, either manually, or through hi-tech road surface scanners, as part of a term contract arranged by the North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO). These surveys focused on collecting information on everything from road condition to street furniture, highway drainage and street lighting.
Customer Name: Tyne & Wear County Council (Gateshead, Newcastle, Sunderland and South Tyneside)
Industry: Local authority group
Analysing data more flexibly
Achieving asset management best practice
Reduce energy costs and carbon emissions
Recently, as the volume of data the councils can access has escalated, the relationship with Causeway has evolved. To help to manage, maintain and analyse the road condition data gathered in its surveys, Causeway has provided three of the authorities: (Gateshead; Sunderland and South Tyneside) with the Causeway Asset Management System, here comprising its flagship visualised asset management solution, Causeway Horizons, together with, in the case of Gateshead, key modules from its complementary asset management suite.
The drivers for implementing the Causeway Asset Management System were different for each council. Sunderland wanted to use Causeway Horizons as a visualised repository for their data – effectively as a tool for viewing asset inventory information collected from Causeway surveys. Gateshead tendered for a full Causeway Asset Management System suite incorporating three Causeway Horizons modules: Highways; Street Lighting and Street Works. For South Tyneside, the main driver was the need to overhaul asset management best practice together with forward-looking investment scenario planning. Just as in Sunderland, Causeway Horizons was the only element of the Asset Management System implemented.
Strategic highways asset management
Overall, the installation of the Causeway Asset Management System has run smoothly across all three councils. At Sunderland, with the focus on building data sets, the process was quick and easy. At South Tyneside, also, it was relatively seamless. Causeway support was key in quickly enabling the council to start working with Causeway Horizons and, in particular, allowing them to begin actively using the software’s analysis function. At Gateshead, the process has taken longer because of the need to replace the pre-existing street works and street lighting software with new modules. This local authority implementation, however, is now completed with all systems being implemented within the required timeline.
Like most local authorities, all four councils are actively focused on achieving asset management best practice and then using that enhanced capability and approach to maximise government funding. The survey work Causeway carries out provides a critical foundation to this process. It enables the councils to gather key data. Typically, Causeway will then analyse that data and produce a road condition index rating for each council which has to be submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT) annually. The combination of the data Causeway collects coupled with the experience and expertise it has built up by working with the Tyne & Wear authorities over the past decade enables them to offer additional services and this has been a great benefit to Gateshead Council.
As Jimmy Young, the council’s Highway & Flood, Risk Management, Team Leader, explains:
“They do the survey and then they analyse the results. The years of experience Causeway has enable them to offer an accurate explanation of any anomalies and to clearly outline the reasons why results differ from expectations. On top of this, they can offer additional services on a one-off basis to supplement the work in the term contract. This might be a comparison of this year’s survey with years gone by; it might be bringing enhanced GIS capability to enable us to analyse the data ourselves more flexibly, or it might simply be additional consultancy and professional services provision.”
Optimised asset management processes
“Over the last decade, we have developed a close, trust-based working relationship with Causeway. The extensive experience and far-reaching expertise they have built up on our highways network is invaluable to us. The key benefit is fast time to insight. Causeway has already demonstrated their ability to deliver this by plotting different road investment scenarios and analysing their likely impact. We have confidence in their knowledge of our data; the agility of their software and their ability to analyse market trends and deliver accurate, well-informed advice. Thanks to Causeway, we have made great strides towards achieving asset management best practice and to maximising our share of the Government’s Incentive Fund.” Young stated.
One of the key uses for the Causeway Asset Management System since implementation has been in helping the councils to align themselves more closely with the Highway Infrastructure Asset Management (HIAM) Guidance, issued by the Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) with an end objective of moving up the bands stipulated in the Government’s Incentive Fund. With limited resources at their disposal and revenue budgets reducing, many local authorities struggle to do this on their own. Working with other councils brings benefits in this context. The other key advantage they have is being able to draw on the expertise that Causeway has gleaned over a decade of delivering road condition surveys for the councils.
In line with the HMEP guidance, Causeway began the process by undertaking a full Highway Asset Management Plan (HAMP) review with three of the four authorities. This enabled the councils to satisfy key areas of the Government’s Incentive Fund stipulations to successfully achieve a Level 2 banding. Causeway ensured that the HAMP review included the production of a policy and strategy, which was signed off at senior level – a primary requirement within the Incentive Fund. Added to that, the HMEP guidance review addressed most of the questions within the Incentive Fund questionnaire. Causeway and the councils together met the requirements for some of these questions simply by supplying additional documentation, others required extra work and analysis.
Causeway also helped to manage the formation of a benchmarking group between the authorities.
This started by focusing on performance measures, already collected by all four councils that could be easily compared including national road condition indicators and claim defence records, with a view to sharing best practice and to demonstrate tangible economic efficiencies. The benchmarking process is ongoing and the move towards Band 3 in the Incentive Fund will include dissemination of best practices across the four authorities.
In contrast to the collaborative approach employed for benchmarking, Causeway advised each authority to work independently of the other councils on lifecycle planning. They each have different treatments and working practices and lifecycle plans needed to be modified accordingly.
Causeway therefore focused on defining the predicted lifecycle of each carriageway sub asset group for each council. This involves defining how treatments are applied, then projecting the anticipated lifespan of each prior to creating deterioration profiles to be applied to each carriageway sub asset group. Once intervention triggers are defined for each treatment, Causeway and the authorities can together apply a budget profile against the highways assets and project likely outcomes for different investment scenarios. The final step is visualisation, and, in particular, enabling engineers to see and interrogate the results.
In practice, South Tyneside has fulfilled its original plans for the Causeway Asset Management System by using Causeway Horizons primarily to support the case for making investments in its highways network and showing the impact that reductions and increases in funding might have. South Tyneside is also using the solution for incentive fund development and through the use of Causeway Horizons. Causeway is focused on supporting the council’s bid to move from Band 2 to Band 3 in time for the 2017/18 submission.
Sunderland and Gateshead councils are also using Causeway Horizons for Incentive Fund development and to support asset management best practice – although Gateshead has to date used the viewing capability of the visualised asset management software, only.
All three councils have now achieved Band 2. All three also are now actively using Causeway Horizons to support their separate bids for Band 3 status under the Incentive Fund as well as the development of complementary highway asset management plans in support of that. Sunderland Council has also reaped significant rewards from Causeway Horizons since implementation by using it to interrogate and visualise information that they otherwise would not have had access to. It has also helped them from a collaborative working perspective. Having all the information they need within the same software package makes that more intuitive in itself. Having data within the same repository also makes it easier to run relevant benchmarking tests.
The ongoing process of working with the Tyne & Wear authorities has enabled Causeway to gather large volumes of data on the councils’ behalf, including details of national indicators and information about condition analysis. This has helped to inform not just the prioritisation of works on the network but also Causeway push to align the councils with Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) best practice and support their bids for funding.
Causeway professional services offering has been key in helping each authority to achieve a best practice position tailored to its own specific needs.
The councils are looking to adapt the regular condition surveys that Causeway runs for them and advance the way they are using the software in order to achieve even greater levels of insight that can then feed into asset management best practice and lifecycle planning. They are also planning to increase the number of assets that they analyse in order to better understand the impact of different funding scenarios on the different asset groups. Causeway is likely to play a key role once again in helping the councils to achieve their key goals. Its ten years of experience of learning from the councils will continue to enable Causeway to rapidly adapt its survey, software and professional services to meet their evolving needs.
By working closely with the councils and listening to their specific requirements, Causeway has been able to evolve and adapt its surveys, software and professional services to ensure it is consistently meeting their needs. This partnership-based approach has been key in enabling Causeway and the councils together to actively work towards achieving strategic asset management best practice and to optimise funding in an environment where budgets and other resources are coming under increasing pressure.
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