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Innovate or stagnate

By David Capon

The Industry is reaching a cross road, budget cuts, increase in infrastructure demands, traffic and population growth and political machinations are all driving change, but which way will we head? Do we maintain the status quo or be brave enough to embrace innovation and drive change?

JAG(UK) is clear in its view, innovation will drive change and move us all forward.

The current SROH national review group has identified weaknesses across the UK in the sharing, promoting and development of innovative methods to improve delivery of street works. It is also clear that the current A9 Trial process is not fit for purpose and needs to be reviewed in line with the current SROH Review. That gives us an opportunity to promote and work with those developing innovative solutions and for the community to develop an innovations forum to give a national focus and provide a central contact/information point.

It is generally agreed, subject to the correct process, that the SROH should drive and support innovation and development and that the SROH should not unreasonably prohibit or restrict such development.

As part of the evolving review of certain aspects of the specification it was felt that it would be beneficial to establish a HAUC(UK) Innovations Forum that would both assist in the current SROH review process but that might also exist into the future to assist in ensuring continuous improvement and maintaining the relevance of the SROH. In essence HAUC(UK) needs to embrace innovation and development in a positive manner.

To me, innovation can be best described by this simple diagram:

Innovate or stagnate


There are a number of key roles the group could perform which has the potential to help drive innovation and help deliver change in line with industry needs.

1. Framework: The idea is to develop a framework by which new innovative approaches to compliance and delivery can be linked to the innovations forum who will support the development in terms of guidance on the SROH, communicate its progress and trial data round to the industry, and provide a focal point for questions etc from the industry which will give consistent information to help deliver confidence in the new product.

2. Central Point: The forum needs to link to all national and regional HAUC’s/Rauc’s as well as other stakeholders within the industry, and build a central information portal to help with communications and give a central focus to questions and answers.

3. Review A9: It is clear that the current A9 trial process is not fit for purpose and a key role for the forum is to review that and recommend changes.

4. Advice Notes: Working with those organisations in developing an innovative product would also mean the development of advice notes to help any trial process and therefore see those notes move seamlessly into the body of the document within a simpler revision process.

5. Champion: To drive sustainability by encouraging and supporting innovated initiatives related to excavation, backfill and reinstatement for street and road works and to ensure all innovative products and methods are developed and used against a recognised framework of quality assurance that assures compliance with the SROH and other relevant legislation

6. SROH: To ensure that the SROH is suitably worded to encourage innovation and development whilst at the same time to ensure there are robust and effective controls in place to assure against unacceptable levels of risk

Constitution of the Group

It was suggested that the forum should consist of no more than 8 people, 4 utilities and 4 HA with links to all four national HAUC’s. The four who attended this first meeting would be part of this group, therefore we would need to find additional 4 from HAUC(UK). Dave Regan and David Capon would act as Co-Chairs of the forum. In addition, the forum would use industry experts which would be co-opted onto the group as and when required.

The forum will to report into and out of HAUC(UK),

Future Tasks

The forum now needs to undertake a number of tasks in order to establish itself.

  • Additional Membership The group needs to identify 4 more members
  • The Current SROH. An initial piece of work needs to be undertaken to fully understand what the SROH actually says to either encourage or discourage innovation. That could then result in some simple recommendations in terms of alternative wording.
  • Develop Terms of reference
  • To promote best practice across the HAUC community within innovative solutions and to improve communications between all stakeholders
  • To produce HAUC advice notes associated with innovative solutions
  • To develop an innovations portal to act as a central communications hub for innovation within the UK. To become a recognised initial contact point for advice related to innovative proposals including maintaining an FAQ type facility
  • To assist in evolving the current SROH A9 framework to become fit for purpose for both bound and unbound materials?

Regional HAUC Materials Groups – should be encouraged to work closely together and should have meetings with similar agendas and contents.

If you’re interested in joining the group, you are the regional JAG rep or just want to be a correspondence member then please contact me: [email protected]

David Capon is the JAG(UK) Manager

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