VolkerHighways drives process automation to help traffic flow more smoothly

Published on 09-Aug-2013

"The Maximo solution provides the client-focused reporting and operational efficiencies that VolkerHighways needs to succeed in the rapidly changing and very competitive public tender environment, and we are very satisfied with its capabilities and results." - Gareth Simms, Commercial Director, VolkerHighways


Construction / Architecture / Engineering

Deployment country:
United Kingdom

Asset Management, Enabling Business Flexibility, Information Integration

IBM Business Partner:
Peacock Engineering Limited


VolkerHighways specialises in public and private sector highways maintenance and civil engineering, street lighting, and hard and soft landscaping projects. Formed from the merger of specialist highways companies, VolkerHighways is part of VolkerWessels UK, which employs more than 2,100 people and ranks as one of the top ten civil engineering companies in the UK.

Business need:
Paper-based processes made it difficult for VolkerHighways to manage thousands of complex work orders, and the company wanted to improve and automate its processes to help win new public contracts.

Deployed IBM® Maximo® Asset Management to provide comprehensive work order management, integrated with workforce scheduling, job control, on-site mobile devices, imaging and Bing mapping.

Enables advanced monitoring, management and completion of work orders, benefiting VolkerHighways and its clients.

Case Study

In industries traditionally relying on paper-based records, managing workflow and gaining insight into operations can be expensive. How could roadway specialists VolkerHighways manage thousands of complex work orders efficiently and effectively?

The company deployed IBM® Maximo® Asset Management to provide comprehensive work order management, integrated with workforce scheduling, job control, on-site mobile devices, imaging and Bing mapping.

The result is advanced monitoring, management and completion of work orders, including compliance with new regulations and even contributing to a successful bid for a new Transport for London contract.

Challenges of managing growth

VolkerHighways specialises in public and private sector highways maintenance and civil engineering, street lighting, and hard and soft landscaping projects. Formed from the merger of specialist highways companies, VolkerHighways is part of VolkerWessels UK, which employs more than 2,100 people and ranks as one of the top ten civil engineering companies in the UK.

Growth by merger resulted in VolkerHighways using a variety of different work management systems, such as spreadsheets, proprietary databases and paper records. Thousands of complex work orders (detailing client requirements for each of the company’s maintenance jobs) depended on these manual processes. As the workload grew, management expense increased, and there was no easy way to improve operational efficiency.

Gareth Simms, Commercial Director, elaborates: “VolkerHighways serves public authorities and private companies throughout the UK. Each client tends to have its own way of presenting work orders, and internally we had multiple methods to handle the workload.

“With the introduction of the Traffic Management Act, which requires co-ordination between highways operators to minimise the impact of works, we realised that based on our existing manual processes, the burden of compliance would be too great in terms of time, effort and cost.

“Additionally, public authorities are asking for greater information transparency. Based on the contracted scheduled rates and specified work, clients want proof of the work completed, a comparison of actual work against the original specification, and a host of quality-related data. The existing manual systems were simply not capable of meeting these demands, and it was clear that we needed to review our work order and scheduling strategy.”

Managing work orders

Work orders vary from the simple (“replace this broken kerbstone”) to comprehensive, detailed and complex specifications for complete project works – such as major road improvement schemes. Formerly, paper-based work orders were allocated by managers who analysed and allocated equipment, vehicles, materials and people, and set out the sequence of work based on estimated job requirements and travel time. The sequence of work depended on the availability of specialist expertise, the location of the job, and even on whether the required materials – such as tarmac, paving and concrete – could be carried by the available trucks.

VolkerHighways’ aim was to replace this manual approach with a more automated solution that could keep a single record of equipment, vehicles, materials and people, and match them against work orders in the most efficient manner possible. Working with Peacock Engineering, an IBM Premier Business Partner, VolkerHighways chose to introduce a solution based on IBM Maximo Asset Management, fully integrated with mobile workforce solutions from ClickSoftware and SAP, to provide end-to-end work order management.

“Many vendors offered work order management solutions where the functionality we needed was ‘on the roadmap’,” says Gareth Simms. “IBM Maximo Asset Management was the only option that seemed capable of delivering tried and trusted technology, and was clearly ahead of the field. Peacock Engineering offered VolkerHighways a complete solution, with Maximo at its core, integrated with specialist mobile workforce management software from ClickSoftware and SAP, at a commercially attractive price point that was hard to beat.”

VolkerHighways uses Maximo Asset Management to record every aspect of a work order. As a first step, this allows managers to understand the total volume of work and the equipment, vehicles, and work gangs necessary. Entering data from work orders of all shapes and sizes into a standard template helps the company identify where orders are missing details or specifications, which can be rectified immediately. Completed work order data is used to generate estimates of time, materials, equipment and personnel requirements, and in turn the completed estimate is used to create daily schedules in the most efficient manner possible.

On site, the work performed, materials used, time taken and additional details such as “before and after” images are captured on mobile devices and transmitted to the central Maximo Asset Management solution. The complete work report is subsequently available for VolkerHighways to use for accurate invoicing and client reporting.

Gareth Simms explains, “Maximo Asset Management provides a single overview of all our work orders. We have eliminated our reliance on people thumbing through stacks of paper, and we can depend on Maximo to show us what work, equipment, materials, transport and people are required when, where and for how long.

“The system presents us with ‘shopping lists’ of the day’s jobs and predictions of future work. Each vehicle has a specific load capacity that we factor into the schedule. Rather than sending gangs out with 90 percent of what they need for all the day’s jobs, we can shuffle the sequence to ensure gangs have everything they need for each job in turn, and plan a visit to the depot to re-stock as necessary. The gangs enter data into the SAP Work Manager for Maximo solution on their handheld devices to update the quantities used in real-time, while the ClickSoftware solutions handle job scheduling.

“Additional integration with Bing Maps and route-planning software allows us to ensure work gangs reach locations quickly, with the right equipment available in the right sequence, and travel by the most efficient route. The result is greatly increased scheduling performance, which of course translates directly into better client service.

“Peacock Engineering delivered a complete solution, founded on their in-house expertise of the three core software components. We see Peacock as a focused partner that learns quickly, and understands the importance of creating a process-driven solution, enabled by great software.”

Easy compliance and greater competitiveness

Since the introduction of the Traffic Management Act in 2004, local traffic authorities have a duty to manage the road network and secure the “expeditious movement of traffic”. The Act has placed a requirement on VolkerHighways’ clients to co-ordinate highways operations with other interested parties, such as gas and electricity companies; this is achieved through “notices” or “permits”.

For VolkerHighways, the Maximo Asset Management solution, combined with a traffic management application from Bentley Exor, provides full capability for compliance with the Traffic Management Act (including the Department for Transport’s technical messaging standards). Permit numbers and associated data are recorded automatically in the solution, allowing VolkerHighways to report on job status, progress and completion in a way that matches the clients’ demands, even while the practical business of maintaining highways continues.

Many clients additionally want to understand the histories of their work programs. For example, it may be more cost-effective to repair a stretch of road surface in a single visit rather than fix a series of smaller defects over multiple visits. VolkerHighways is now able to use the Maximo Asset Management solution to analyse complete work histories by location, repair type and more. This data can be used to help local authorities make maintenance decisions and provide the evidence behind those decisions.

“This information analysis capability greatly strengthens VolkerHighways’ ability to respond to clients’ needs,” comments Gareth Simms. “Based on actual costs, specifications and validated matching of the schedule of rates against time, labour, materials and work completed – not to mention images of projects and customer testimonials – the Maximo solution helps VolkerHighways to present hard evidence of its industry leadership and capabilities.”

Demonstrating the benefits of Maximo

“VolkerHighways has started on a journey, based on advanced monitoring and management, that will ultimately lead to paper-free transactions,” says Gareth Simms. “Work orders will arrive electronically, and we will capture and process them automatically. Clients will benefit from near real-time reporting on job progress, status and their budget spend, and will even be able to see where gangs are working with estimated times to completion. For example, the solution provides the ability for client officers to have photos transmitted to them in real-time, eliminating delays and unnecessary journeys, helping achieve greater productivity for our public sector clients and reducing the wait times for on-location gangs.”

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Maximo Asset Management

IBM-SAP Alliance

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013. IBM United Kingdom Limited, PO Box 41, North Harbour, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO6 3AU. Produced in the United Kingdom. August 2013. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, and Maximo are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at: www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. IBM and Peacock Engineering are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor Peacock Engineering makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. The client is responsible for ensuring compliance with laws and regulations applicable to it. IBM does not provide legal advice or represent or warrant that its services or products will ensure that the client is in compliance with any law or regulation. Statements regarding IBM’s future direction and intent are subject to change or withdrawal without notice, and represent goals and objectives only.