We’re known for innovation here at Highway Care, but what does that word actually mean in terms of our company culture and the way we develop new products for the highways industry – here in the UK and around the world?
In this article, our Engineering and Manufacturing Director, Adrian Bullock, shares his thoughts on what innovation means to us and how the company’s drive to deliver positive change was at the heart of the design process for our #HighwayGuard portable steel barrier system currently used internationally.
Innovation is a much over-used word. It is often applied as a synonym for ‘new’ or ‘recently launched’. But genuine innovation is not an adjective; it is a way of thinking, a culture and a mission to make things better. That’s the kind of innovation that went into developing HighwayGuard™.
A significant part of that innovative thinking process was driven by real world, real time insights into the challenges installation teams were facing on site when installing portable steel barrier. Many product development projects involve a reverse engineering process to see where existing solutions can be tweaked or updated to improve safety or functionality, but our starting point was genuinely grass roots, on site with teams of installers.
One of the core principles that came out of that stakeholder engagement and site observation process was that simplification can deliver commercial, operational and product performance benefits, all while prioritising safety. It’s a fundamental of product design that should never be overlooked – no matter how complex the calculations, engineering and creative process may be to develop a product, reducing the number of components and focusing on simplicity makes it easier to manufacture, easier to use and significantly cuts the margin for error at every touchpoint.
In the case of HighwayGuard™, we were able to create a portable steel barrier with minimal components – the barrier and the T-connector – and they are universal and adaptable. This significantly simplifies everything about how the product is manufactured, procured, transported and deployed, delivering increased efficiencies throughout.
The HighwayGuard™ system can be loaded and stored in any convenient arrangement, it does not have to be stacked in any particular configuration. Of course, installation is faster and easier too, with the same two components used to install all classifications of HighwayGuard™ SDS, LDS and MDS (standard, low and minimum deflection), along with the correct level of anchoring for the selected installation according to the site specification.
The user-friendly simplicity of the HighwayGuard™ system belies the technical processes and expertise that went into delivering the design development. From an initial concept, the Highway Care team refined the design and used dynamic mathematical modelling systems to understand the consequences of a vehicle impact on both the barrier and the vehicle, so that the full scale crash testing process was largely a verification of the data already gathered.
We also ensured that HighwayGuard™ can be used in combination with BG800, our pioneering portable steel barrier, as well as other products used throughout the sector, enabling specifiers to make an informed choice and use existing assets alongside their new investment in HighwayGuard™.
HighwayGuard™ is one of the latest in a long tradition of innovation at Highway Care, dating back over five decades. Levels of traffic and the frequency of road maintenance have increased during that time, and the assessment requirements for portable steel barrier are becoming more rigorous, so bringing new products into the sector to meet those evolving challenges remains a key priority.
Learn more about HighwayGuard here.