Andrew Warrington

UK & Europe

Andy Warrington, CEng MICE is Associate Director Transportation at Atkins in the UK, a member of the ICE Transport Expert panel and State of the Nation steering group. Andy has over 20 years experience leading Local Highway Authority highway and transportation departments and divisions including procurement and contract management (including HMEP term maintenance contract), supporting collaboration through the Midland Highway Alliance and in his role as HMEP advocate, driving efficiency through business process optimisation/LEAN and shared services (HMEP case studies) and of course leading the delivery of a £70M/annum customer focused local highway service.

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Although some local authorities are facing funding challenges and concerns that the resilience of the network is reducing, they are also demonstrating flexibility and willingness to make best use of the funding that is available to drive improved efficiency. Effective asset management is one such approach that is being widely adopted as a response.

In 2013, Atkins wrote a revised asset management guidance document on behalf of HMEP and UKRLG to support asset management best practice. The guidance was published with lifecycle planning tools, to help authorities make the most of available funds. The development of digital data collection and analytical systems is one of these, and demonstrates performance of highway infrastructure assets and optimum planned interventions.

These tools are now well embedded in local authority practices and the DfT has supported it’s delivery by incentivising the adoption of good asset management with the introduction of its incentive fund.

A further challenge for local authorities lies in increased pressure to demonstrate organisational efficiency and achievement of outcomes. In some cases, this has led to the consolidation of teams whereby separate sub-cultures exist around the management of different assets such as carriageways, street lighting or structures.

The implementation of asset management provides a solution to this disconnect through an integrated approach to managing strategy, cross-asset priorities, data, analysis, planning and operational delivery. To be successful however, it must be incorporated into organisational transformations.

The Code of Practice supports this approach by setting out requirements for local authorities to review and improve their existing service delivery processes. This ensures the full efficiency benefits from a digital asset management approach are delivered whilst remaining aligned to the local organisational outcomes.

Equally importantly, the Code of Practice encourages greater integration between highway infrastructure asset management and each authority’s approach to risk management. This is critical to strengthen the resilience of the network, and if implemented, could transform the shape of UK roads.

Although funding and asset deterioration issues continue to test local authority commitment to road health, these authorities have displayed a demonstrable willingness to improve and find new ways of working. The maturity of the UK highway infrastructure asset management is enabling an increasingly robust approach to investment decisions to support this.

We have a clear direction to move forward and drive the delivery of efficiencies, through digital asset management and the integration of the powerful new tools the approach brings.

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Devolution provides a timely opportunity to strengthen our collaborative approach to systems management, focussed on the benefits to the users of our infrastructure.

Systems approaches should be central to regional infrastructure strategies to ensure infrastructure networks are integrated and resilient. Extreme weather events highlight the interdependencies in infrastructure as they are liable to lead to cascade failure where the breakdown of one aspect of infrastructure, such as flood defences, can lead to other failures, e.g. flooded power stations leading to power cuts, which affect telecommunications networks. 

The interdependencies in infrastructure need to be managed well, especially, as it is becoming more interconnected. Broadly, the resilience response to providing both mitigation and future prevention is more practical at the local-regional level and can be effectively realised through devolution. However, for resilience planning to succeed, it will also be critical to develop an understanding of the interdependencies of infrastructure systems between new economic geographies.

Managing regional infrastructure as a system requires effective collaboration, planning and sharing of information to provide a systems resilience as well as individual sector resilience. The devolution opportunity must be taken to encourage collaboration through shared regional infrastructure strategies and investment pipelines, connected financial opportunities and an integrated approach to the skills challenge to overcome boundaries between infrastructure operators and build a picture of the state of the entire infrastructure system.

The infrastructure system fundamentally requires joined up management, long-term planning, and a regulatory and policy framework which provides certainty for investors through devolved regional strategies. 

In this year’s State of the Nation report we review the risks and opportunities for infrastructure in an age of devolution to nations, cities and regions.

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