Knowledge Compendium

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Increased efficiency in the use of materials to deliver future investment

Increased effi­ciency in the use of mate­ri­als to deliver future investment

The 2013 National Infra­struc­ture Plan iden­ti­fies a poten­tial spend of £309 bil­lion to £375 bil­lion on infra­struc­ture.  This expen­di­ture increases the poten­tial for exac­er­bat­ing con­straints in the sup­ply of mate­ri­als that some High­ways Agency schemes cur­rently expe­ri­ence.  There is a risk to the deliv­ery and cost of High­ways Agency where sup­ply con­straints increased costs or delay as infra­struc­ture providers com­plete to secure con­struc­tion materials.

This report has estab­lished that mate­ri­als effi­ciency has the poten­tial to save between 1–3% of the cap­i­tal cost of projects.  To realise these sav­ings neces­si­tates a pro­gramme level perspective.

In antic­i­pa­tion of risks to the deliv­ery of the Government’s invest­ment pro­gramme, the High­ways Agency has been inves­ti­gat­ing its future demand on con­struc­tion mate­ri­als and has iden­ti­fied that some mate­ri­als may well give rise to chal­lenges such as the avail­abil­ity of bitu­men and high qual­ity aggre­gate for road pave­ments.  In response, the High­ways Agency has under­taken work on iden­ti­fy­ing mate­ri­als crit­i­cal to the deliv­ery of its invest­ment pro­gramme.  It has also recog­nised that there is a need to secure increased effi­cien­cies in the use of con­struc­tion materials.

Research into mate­ri­als effi­ciency has inves­ti­gated the dri­vers affect­ing the use of mate­ri­als.  It has high­lighted that scheme design and pro­gram­ming are key ele­ments in increas­ing the trans­fer of sur­plus mate­ri­als between schemes. This acts to reduce demand but also lessen the envi­ron­men­tal and green­house gas impact asso­ci­ated with vir­gin materials.

Fun­da­men­tally, as trans­port costs are crit­i­cal to the effi­cient use of mate­ri­als, the research sug­gests that increased coor­di­na­tion across the pub­lic sec­tor infra­struc­ture projects could enhance oppor­tu­ni­ties to trans­fer mate­ri­als across projects within a defined geo­graph­i­cal area.

Through a pilot exam­in­ing at High­ways Agency projects in the East Mid­lands, oppor­tu­ni­ties to save between one and three per­cent of scheme cap­i­tal cost were iden­ti­fied.  To realise such sav­ings, an abil­ity to eco­nom­i­cally trans­fer mate­ri­als poten­tially through local mate­r­ial banks, where con­struc­tion mate­ri­als are tem­porar­ily stored for an iden­ti­fied future use is required.  By pro­vid­ing a plat­form to exchange sur­plus mate­ri­als across all pub­lic sec­tor projects, con­sid­er­able sav­ings result to the pub­lic purse, not just from the cost of vir­gin mate­ri­als, but also from the land­fill dis­posal costs.

The report iden­ti­fied actions for the High­ways Agency to achieve pro­gramme level man­age­ment of the risks to deliv­ery and achieve­ment of the cost sav­ings.  These actions focus on:

  • The future by iden­ti­fy­ing poten­tial threats;
  • Engag­ing with the mar­ket to min­imise the threat; and
  • Deliv­er­ing busi­ness improve­ment to enhance resilience and max­imise savings.

The actions comprise:

  • Estab­lish­ing the mate­r­ial needs of the Smart Motor­ways Programme;
  • Iden­ti­fy­ing syn­er­gies between the Smart Motor­ways Pro­gramme, tra­di­tional schemes and NDD interventions;
  • Iden­ti­fy­ing the demand for mate­ri­als from other infra­struc­ture providers and abil­ity of the sup­ply chain to meet demand;
  • Putting in place mea­sures to max­imise cost savings;
  • Com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the sup­ply chain to enable and encour­age invest­ment to enhance supplies;
  • Engag­ing with Pro­cure­ment, Com­mer­cial, Geot­ech­nics, Plan­ning, Major Projects, Net­work Deliv­ery Direc­torate, Design Agents and Deliv­ery Partners.

This report rep­re­sents the out­put from phase 1 of this project and phase 2 is cur­rently under­way pick­ing up the actions iden­ti­fied in the report.

For fur­ther infor­ma­tion please con­tact Simon Bal­drey in the Envi­ron­ment Group.