Large public infrastructure projects increasingly comprise design, construction and maintenance. Dutch construction company Heijmans called upon MaxGrip to adapt to this new long-term perspective in road contracting. The company needed to gain the ability to predict road conditions, anticipate damage development, and substantiate postponements of preventive replacements.
Heijmans is active in property development, housing, utilities and infrastructure. Well known in the Netherlands as a roads contractor, the company’s Infrastructure division also builds bridges, flyovers and tunnels. Heijmans’ road and asphalt expertise is deployed in major construction and maintenance works on the Dutch motorway network.
Heijmans manager Edwin van Osch: ‘MaxGrip has helped us with predictive maintenance analytics. This project has yielded expected and unexpected results. We will be sharing them within Asphalt-Impulse. This national program brings major road contractors and clients, including Rijkswaterstaat – the Dutch Department of Public Works – together in a knowledge-sharing effort to extend the lifespan of roads and lower maintenance costs.’
In the changing landscape of public tenders, Heijmans is focusing on projects with healthy margins and manageable risks. Contracts are becoming ever more complex as a result of developments in the procurement of road design, construction and maintenance. ‘De-risking Infra’ has become the theme of the acquisition strategy. Structural improvement of risk management and a tightened commercial focus should result in a more selective approach to new contracts. As part of this strategy, Heijmans wants to expand its role as contractor and develop long-term client relationships through services, maintenance and management.
If the handover or commissioning is not the end of the project, the risk profile changes dramatically. The long-term perspective requires innovative and integrated solutions, and therefore intensive interaction between all departments and project teams. Heijmans Integrated Projects was founded to ensure that all relevant in-house expertise is mobilised, and that all disciplines work together efficiently. Tender Management, Design & Consultancy, Road Construction, Geodesy, and Project Support are the five departments that closely coordinate all efforts to ensure smooth execution without any unwanted surprises throughout the project lifecycle.
‘The total road lifespan and the time between overhauls take on new significance when maintenance is included in construction and repair contracts’, says MaxGrip project manager Harry Bleiburgh. ‘To Heijmans, already a road knowledge center, it is now crucial to learn everything there is to know about road longevity. The expected traffic volumes, tonnages, and speeds are traditional variables to consider in the design phase. The challenge is to further reduce risks and increase long-term cost-effectiveness by making the right choices from an early stage onward. Heijmans counted on MaxGrip to help devise a strategy for sound decision management.’
The project aimed to create an algorithm that provides insight into how road surface damage develops, in order to apply predictive analytics to maintenance. Achieving this rather ambitious goal started off with existing data from visual inspections of the motorway network in the western part of the province of North Brabant. The project resulted in a workable methodology for assessing different types of asphalt pavement and the causes and severity of different types of damage, including raveling, fatigue cracking, longitudinal and transverse cracks, unevenness, and skid resistance.
The analysis confirmed some expectations, for example about the relationship between surface age and current road condition. Edwin van Osch: ‘Other results were surprising, such as the extent of the damage caused by the wrenching effects of traffic in bends, merging lanes and deceleration lanes. This study also revealed that more uniformity and structure is desirable in future data collection. We have started to enhance this process and we plan to develop a company-wide model to make optimum use of all available data.’
MaxGrip combines knowledge about Asset Performance Management (APM), IT, and analytics. As a process of categorising and interpreting, data analysis typically enriches existing information and provides new insights. This project is no exception. All relevant data and new information is being gathered in a knowledge library that will enable Heijmans Integrated Projects to greatly improve decision-making with regard to design, construction and maintenance, as well as preventive replacements and the acquisition of new projects.