Blog: SECBE Awards 2021 finalist - Polymer Rubber Emergency Areas

20 May 2021

sponsored by RIFT R&D

Polymer Rubber Emergency Areas (Morgan Sindall)

Innovation SECBE Award 2021 Winner

Morgan Sindall Infrastructure, in partnership with Rosehill Polymers, has developed an innovative product to enhance safety for road workers and the travelling public, reduce works programme durations and deliver significant whole-life cost benefits. Their modular polymer (rubber) Emergency Area (EA) units are manufactured off-site in factory conditions, ensuring a consistent, high-quality and standardised product that can be deployed across Highways England’s network of EAs. 

They have installed the first rubber EA on their M27 Junction 4 to 11 Smart Motorway scheme. Their solution won the Highways UK Civils & Materials Innovation Award for 2020, with judges praising its development in directly supporting the achievement of Highways England’s Safety, Customer Service and Delivery imperatives as detailed below:

  • Safety – provides a safer, standardised solution that promotes customer familiarity and reduces safety risks for the workforce.
  • Customer Service – supports the development of a standard operating model approach and consistent ‘look and feel’ for customers, while minimising disruption on the network through reduced need for traffic management.
  • Delivery – enables quicker installation times through lean methodology and offers better whole-life value through a 40-year design life.

Their EA units have a high component of recycled rubber vehicle tyres which is used to create a lightweight, polymer-based and orange-topped unit. This off-site manufactured product has been developed in line with ‘Design for Manufacture and Assembly’ (DFMA) principles. It is quick and safe to install, and can be deployed as a modular system that enables delivery and assembly on-site in a single day. Their rubber EA units have a lower whole-life cost than traditional EAs, and require smaller construction plant for installation whilst guaranteeing a high-quality finish to tight tolerances. This solution has the potential to significantly improve safety, reduce customer disruption and generate delivery efficiencies. 

The rubber EA unit also offers numerous sustainability benefits, as it uses a recycled product (i.e. vehicle tyres) that would otherwise go to landfill and the panels themselves can be recycled – allowing whole lifecycle usage. As the recycled tyres are ‘cold pressed’ during the production process, this saves 20 tonnes of carbon for every EA unit made (45 tonnes better than the traditional equivalent).

This is the first use of a polymer rubber product, bonded by polyurethane, anywhere on Highways England’s network. The innovative composition of the material aligns with Highways England’s aspiration to increase the use of standard products in transforming the efficiency of the scheme’s delivery across its Smart Motorway portfolio. By moving away from traditional EAs constructed with bituminous materials, their rubber EA solution improves product quality and design standardisation, reduces waste and embeds sustainability into asset delivery. Its rapid deployment across the Strategic Road Network will maximise operational efficiencies and workforce productivity, whilst improving customer and worker safety and whole-life cost performance by significantly reducing maintenance and traffic management requirements. Their product is versatile, suitable for new build construction sites and any retrofit programmes to reduce the distance between existing EAs.

Key facts:

  • The net emissions saving associated with one modular EA produced is 20 tonnes of CO2.
  • Their modular solution offers multiple safety benefits in terms of quicker installation and replacement using smaller plant, and reduced maintenance requirements over the 40+ year design life.
  • The panels to install a full EA can be completed in just one day.

  • Client: Highways England
  • Project Partners: Morgan Sindall Infrastructure, Rosehill Polymer Group and WSP

About the Innovation Award: 

Innovation is widely recognised as the critical factor for increased and sustained productivity and growth. It demonstrates an organisation’s confidence, capacity and appetite for improved performance and productivity gains. Innovation is most effective as a holistic approach that identifies both demand and ideas and is most successful when supported by collaboration between customers and the supply chain. More info.

Find out who wins at the Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2021 Summit & Awards Ceremony on Thurs 1st July 2021. Free attendance.

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