The UK Highways Agency (HA) has released a report to analyse and share leaning around the success of the M25 Smart Motorways works. The Smart Motorways Productivity Report – M25 Outputs was researched and written by RW director Andrew Moore and its findings are already beginning to inform practice on other schemes.

The report was commissioned as part of the HA’s Lean programme which aims to improve efficiency across the smart motorway construction programme by 20%. As well as an analysis of the success of the M25 programme, the report contains a number of recommendations relevant across the smart motorways programme and designed to support the development of a collaborative framework. Within the recommendations is a proposed common methodology for smart motorway schemes. Entitled ‘Production Train’, it’s based on three key principals:

• A shorter time-frame to get on site and mobilise.
• An increase in the output of critical activities – using more resource, over a longer time, in more locations.
• An earlier hand back of sections of motorway, as work on each section is completed.

The learning from the M25 scheme is already being successfully applied to a comparable scheme on the M1. Despite its being undertaken by a different team from a different organisation, the M25 team has actively supported improvement on the new project, visiting site to share their experience and learning. Using collaborative planning and following the principals of the production train methodology, the M1 team, supported by Rubicon Wigzell, have been able to reduce the planned programme of works from 40 weeks to 30, equating to a multi-million pound saving.
Andrew said:

“The HA’s drive to improve the performance of a whole industry by 20% is a remarkable undertaking and these are very positive first steps on that long journey. There is genuine excitement about the success of the M25 project, the learning we’ve gained from it and the impact it’s set to have across the smart motorway programme nationally. I’m really pleased and surprised by the levels of co-operation we’re already seeing between teams from different organisations, to me it shows the beginnings of a major shift in thinking from competition to collaboration, which is essential to the client’s ambition for successful industry-wide continuous improvement.”