Highway Care, pioneers of innovative solutions for a safer future

Is automation the answer for a safer highways industry?

At Highway Care, we are pioneers of innovative solutions for a safer future, investing in new product development and curating proven systems from around the world to keep people safer.

Best practice health and safety processes and behaviours, along with proper use of PPE, help to mitigate risk, but with advances in technology, we must now consider whether engineering risk out of road maintenance and improvements is possible with the use of automation.

How can automation reduce risk in roadworks projects?

By automating processes and activities required to carry out road maintenance projects, the need for operatives to work in hazardous roadside locations, close to live lanes of traffic and machinery can be avoided during essential activities, to making their work inherently safer.

Advantages of automation:

Provides opportunities for data collection and productivity tracking
Allows programming for varying requirements
Reduces contractors’ vulnerability to staff absences and recruitment issues
Keeps operatives away from hazards
Enables consistency

What does automation for roadworks projects look like?

At Highway Care, our process for product development of safety systems using automation begins by identifying hazards and considering how automation can be used to avoid or reduce risk. This has led to industry-leading projects.

Falcon Automated Cone Laying Machine

Developed to meet a first generation specification from National Highways, the Falcon ACLM uses automation to bypass the hazards of manual cone laying operations, including:

  • Working adjacent to live lanes of traffic
  • Walking cones in to remove lane closures
  • Musculoskeletal injury due to repetitive lifting, twisting and bending
  • Working close to traffic fumes
  • Hearing damage associated with close proximity to travelling/high-speed vehicles
  • Distracting other road users

After undergoing extensive off- and on-road tests the Falcon ACLM has now been deployed on Balfour Beatty’s M25 improvement programme through Connect Plus Services (CPS) and has been found to also deliver operational benefits too, including:

  • Consistency of cone intervals
  • Longer cone deployments delivered in a single shift
  • Cone drop or collection in less than 10 seconds per cone


SwiftGate is a brand new automation solution that is still at trial stage. It is designed to make lane closures faster, safer and more responsive to real time road safety and road maintenance requirements.

SwiftGate will provide a range of safety advantages including:

  • Avoiding the need for manual lane closures
  • Preventing the need for operatives to work close to live lanes of traffic
  • Improved visibility of lane closures

It will also provide a variety of operational advantages including:

  • Local and remote monitoring and sequencing
  • Rapid deployment in response to live traffic conditions
  • Rapid removal to free up lanes and enable traffic flows when no work is taking place
  • Flexibility to activate modules individually, in sequence or in groups
  • Suitability for use with other road safety devices and strategies
  • Versatility for a wide range of applications

Making automation happen in the highways industry

For automation to deliver its full potential for the highways industry, the sector needs to come together to support new ways of thinking and new ways of working, with a commitment to collaboration and embracing the potential of automation technology.

The innovation Highway Care has pioneered so far has been driven and supported by a collaborative approach across the delivery chain. Our partners have been just as critical as our expertise, and the investment needed to carry forward what has been achieved to date relies on all elements of the highways industry making safety a high priority.

It is clear that the safety benefits of automation will be supported by efficiency and productivity gains, helping to keep traffic moving, as well as ensuring that operatives return home safely.

To find out more or work with us on your highways safety projects, get in touch.