Essex Highways (a strategic partnership between Ringway Jacobs and Essex County Council) moved to the XA© Asset Management System from XAIS in February 2020 with an ambition to truly embrace the many features of the state-of-the-art platform and enable a step change in asset management capability.
By understanding the intricacies of XA©, the team at Essex Highways would be ideally positioned to maximise the potential of the powerful asset management solution and identify any process changes it needed to make outside of the system to further improve data quality within it.
With these objectives agreed at the outset, the project teams at Essex Highways and XAIS quickly developed an excellent working relationship.
Thanks to consistent and open dialogue, the teams were perfectly aligned on initial transition requirements and identified opportunities to keep enhancing the system to work in the best way possible for Essex Highways.
A seamless start
When the transition period began, Essex Highways had bundles of existing data and schemes across a range of assets that it needed to keep for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the end of one financial year and the beginning of another was approaching so it was an extremely busy period with numerous schemes to manage and plan for.
The move also coincided with the start of COVID restrictions across the United Kingdom which created huge uncertainty. There were sudden changes to both budget and scheme prioritisation as well as physical restrictions on the ability of engineers to get out to sites for validation purposes.
Kieran Doo, Asset Management Engineer at Essex Highways, explains: “Given the surrounding circumstances, we needed a solution to get all of our existing data into XA© in a way that would allow our team to continue working in line with current practices but also start an effective transition to a new way of working. I raised this with the XAIS team and they worked their magic.”
Using the Scheme Assembler module in XA©, the XAIS team created a solution that allowed live programmes of work to be managed immediately without losing data already entered in Essex Highways’ previous system.
Kieran continues: “We started with carriageways and footways as the main assets. The XAIS team then used outputs from the previous system to configure treatments in XA© and to create all of the initial scheme data. Through clever use of the Scheme Assembler module, this was done in a way that was easy for us to pick up quickly but still left scope to develop a more powerful framework for future activity that maximised the asset management potential of XA©.”
A tailor-made solution
As part of the initial phase of the project, the Essex Highways team requested some specific adaptations to the Scheme Assembler module to support its use of XA©.
One of these was the creation of a Scheme Investigation Report. These reports provide an overview of each scheme on a common pdf template, including key information such as the scheme name, location details and treatments plus a snapshot of the scheme geometry.
These reports are then issued to delivery teams to highlight the exact area of works – helping to keep everything on budget and ensure that all required elements are completed. The reports also provide useful reference points for discussing and tracking any changes to the original plans following site visits or as the schemes evolve.
The report template developed in XA© by the project team covered all of these areas with additional space for validation comments and bill of quantities information. Further development will see the introduction of OS mapping to provide users with the exact road geometry, the exact footways and any building references.
A powerful visual tool
Following the uploading of the existing data into the XA© system, Essex Highways also requested the development of a new map view in the Scheme Assembler module to provide a useful visual aid to handling schemes and collating schemes for programmes.
Kieran explains: “At Essex we are a very visual team and we like using maps. This will evolve as we immerse ourselves more into the data elements but, from the start, we needed the ability to easily share visual representations of schemes with key stakeholders and delivery teams. The XAIS team delivered yet again and ticked all the boxes with the new map view.”
Alongside the map view implementation, another development included setting up a manual process in Scheme Assembler to accommodate the creation of new schemes for those assets not held in XA© – with access for different teams to update and manage each of the schemes once created in the system.
Maximising the full potential of the XA© Asset Management System
With all existing data safely transitioned across and usable in XA©, the Essex Highways team is now using the asset management system how it was intended to be used – including taking condition data, using it to generate schemes and then progressing those schemes through the system into Scheme Assembler.
Kieran concludes: “We’re delighted with our move to XA© – both in terms of the solution but also the support we continue to receive from the XAIS team. Even with the unprecedented challenges we faced at the outset, the team helped us to achieve our original objectives. We understand the true potential of XA© and know how to use it correctly. We can also make refinements aligned with our processes to harness the potential of our data. As a result, we have a powerful tool at our fingertips that will help us maximise the long-term value and sustainability of our assets.”