16 November 2023 | Collaboration | Our Work
The Local Council Roads Innovation Group (LCRIG) recently caught up with Russell Smallridge, Head of Decarbonisation Strategy at LCRIG Associate Member Meon to talk about some of the challenges facing the highways sector.
Read Russell’s full interview below.
Q. What are the biggest challenges facing the highways sector?
A. I think one of the biggest challenges facing the highways sector currently is the balancing of demands against budget.
Budgets are being restricted and demands are increasing because we have an aging network asset. It is becoming increasingly difficult for Local Authorities to decide where they should invest. But first, when looking at a road network you have to understand what’s underneath the road.
Different areas have different geology, meaning the movement in the sub-soil could be causing pothole issues in one area, whereas it could be a completely different issue in another area. It’s easy to find innovation, but it’s not always easy to understand where it fits in resolving an outstanding issue. Different networks have different demands.
One local authority could discover an innovation that is working in a particular area due to geological factors, but that innovation might not be the right fit for their own needs. There are lots of variables to consider with innovation, but what we do is work with Local Authorities and if the solution doesn’t already exist, we work alongside them to develop what will work for them.
Q How much importance is put on innovation within your business and in what ways can it enable change?
A Innovation is absolutely critical for Meon as a business. Meon has developed and grown by providing solutions for problems that have been shared by our clients, that in itself requires innovation to deliver.
Innovation for Meon is not just about a new product – Innovation can be a different way of applying a solution, transporting it, packaging, training and the list goes on. It is all about constantly evolving to help simplify the decision-making process for the customer. Helping them make the right choice in real time.
Q. How does Meon work with councils to help them deliver highways services?
A. Meon as an organisation has been working with Councils & Local Authorities now for nearly 20 years. We have identified there are some practises within the industry that have scope for improvement in safety, new materials and solutions that increase durability and lastly, the opportunity for improved sustainability.
Meon work with Local Authorities to develop solutions that offer benefits and then help to deploy road marking and surface repair solutions onto their network. Specifically, we reference the problems and pain points whilst working proactively to develop solutions that will remove that remove the pain and deliver benefits.
We strive to build personal relationship with Councils, we are willing to innovate alongside them, and look for ways that what we do will directly benefit them. What Meon does is provides a value-add service for our clients, it’s not just about winning an order on price. We can’t over emphasise the importance of positioning ourselves as problem solvers, working with our client to fix things and always provide solutions that will deliver improvement in safety, durability and sustainability.
Q. How will utilising MAGMA PermaFyx L273 help local authorities reduce their cost and carbon footprint?
A. PermaFyx L273 offers a permanent cold applied alternative to traditional hot lay asphalt repair methods of practise.
One of the biggest issues Local Authorities face currently on their road network is repeat defects, with an area of large-scale problem being Ironworks. What we’ve done is looked at the root cause of a failing ironwork, what is currently being used on the network and how can we provide a solution that mitigates and removes the risk of early defects.
Using PermaFyx L273, we can demonstrate to clients that this will significantly reduce the risk of highway defects, subject to it being installed correctly. Therefore, reducing early defects has a significant saving on cost, carbon, network disruption, traffic management and waste processing.
The product itself is cold applied, which is an initial win for carbon reduction, but the biggest impact in terms of carbon saving is found by reducing the need for repeat works and all the resources that utilised to do so.
Q. In what ways do you collaborate with local authorities and the wider supply chain?
A. Collaboration has been at the forefront of what Meon has been doing. Connecting our clients, or highway engineers, local authorities, the list goes on.
We visit multiple factories across the UK, Europe and into North America, identifying which factory is the best fit for certain different types of materials and products. We are connecting that technology, bringing it into Meon, developing it, making it work and suitable for the UK market and finally supplying it to the client.
The collaboration primarily is between Meon and the client, with us acting like a filter system for selecting the correct source of raw material going forward. This helps to remove the risk for Local Authorities, whether self-delivering or contracting out work
Q. How important is the role of LCRIG in driving change within the sector?
A. We see LCRIG as a key partner for Meon moving forward. Promoting change within the sector, providing a network for us to present our solutions and providing events for us to collaborate with Local Authorities is critical for the Meon journey.
LCRIG have a captive audience, the way the organisation has been set-up to assist in the advancement of technology within the industry is fantastic. It is great for local authorities to be getting involved with LCRIG, we definitely encourage further collaboration.
Meon offer products and service solutions that cater to a wide range of industries, across the UK & Ireland.
Image source: Meon Ltd