Construction Talk Podcast: Breaking down the priorities for National Highways innovation

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National Highways innovation

In this episode of Construction Talk, Peter Haddock and Annette Pass, Head of National Highways Innovation, talks about innovation priorities, digital rehearsal, and intelligent machine control

Annette begins the podcast by discussing her role in the business, and what her sector does at National Highways. Annette explains how the role is split into three categories: thought leadership, innovation guidance, and connecting ideas to the right people through the innovation hub.

The changing landscape of the future

Annette explains how the ‘silver lining’ of the Covid-19 pandemic, has encouraged acceptance of technology within the construction landscape proved how easily and quickly it can be picked up.

The Connected and Autonomous Plants Roadmap, launched by National Highways at the start of the pandemic, looks at how people can be removed from difficult, unpleasant, and dangerous jobs.

Innovation with the digital rehearsal

Next Annette and Peter discuss how the business is utilizing innovation technology through the digital rehearsal process.

“A lot of schemes are being built on or next to live roads, so that’s an area where it’s difficult to go out and really see the sites and get the gist of what it’s like”, explains Annette.

“To be able to actually do some of that work digitally, to be able to visualise and plan things better without actually going out to the physical site, means that not only are you able to do things without being disruptive but you’re also able to do it more quickly as well.”

How is the digital rehearsal process improving productivity and efficiency?

“A lot of what we do is about planning and logistics and thinking about what order things need to happen in, whilst in constrained sites”, states Annette.

Therefore, the digital rehearsal process enables the ability to plan and look at different scenarios without having to try them in real life, whilst avoiding mistakes and maximising time on-site in the process.

National Highways is also using the concept of real-time digital twins to see how a project evolves over time, and modelling scenarios about how networks, road, and traffic is operating.

People, skills, and investment

Annette and Peter talk about the ways that she is actively promoting the sector to women, and promoting the sector as a creative industry to work in.

“It’s not the most glamorous industry. It’s not something that people immediately think of as being an exciting place to work because people often think about the building and operating aspect of the industry or roads and railways, which are long-term things”, Annette explains.

“The reason I have stayed there is that is a really vital sector. We keep the economic lifeblood of the country going, and we connect people with places. There is a real sense of social value and purpose to what we do. I also think the culture of the industry is very welcoming, friendly, and pragmatic. I found that culture very positive to work with”.

Annette and Peter close the podcast by talking about new and exciting things coming up for National Highways, including their Connecting Autonomous Plant journey, and predictive analytics.

Listen to the full episode of the Construction Talk Podcast.

Learn more about Causeway.

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