Balfour looks to cut safety risk with cone-laying highway tech

Balfour Beatty has rolled out a set of automated cone-laying machines (ACLM), which it says will reduce the dangers faced by construction workers.

The vehicles will be able to collect or lay out traffic cones in under ten seconds per cone, replacing the need for workers to handle the cones on the road. Only those operating the machines will be needed.

A Balfour Beatty spokesperson said the technology would reduce accident by “minimising the time that traffic management operatives spend physically on the road network”.

Using the ACLMs will also see workers avoid lifting the equivalent of five tonnes of equipment per shift, which will also improve safety.

The system has received regulatory approval and will be distributed across Balfour Beatty’s Connect Plus Consortium, which it formed with Egis Investment Partners and Edge Orbital Holdings.

The ACLMs can be seen in action here:

Balfour Beatty managing director for highways Phil Clifton said his firm is the first construction company in the UK to roll out the ACLMs.

“We hope the machines will radically improve the lives of Highways workers by reducing their direct exposure to a live road environment – demonstrating our commitment to achieving Zero Harm and to sending our people home safe and well every day,” he said.

Balfour Beatty developed the machines via an investment package from National Highways’ innovation designated funds programme. Swiss tech firm SENN Engineering and Kent-based tech firm Highway Care worked with the contractor on the project.

Connect Plus was awarded the contract to manage and operate the M25 and nearby routes, on behalf of National Highways.

National Highways’ head of lean and continuous improvement Martin Bolt said: “The ACLM takes out the human element in the laborious task of putting out cones, as well as eliminating an element of potential risk.

“It also frees up workers who can be redeployed to other traffic management duties.”

Earlier this year, National Highways funded a trial of automated-gate systems which automatically filter traffic to alternative lanes, allowing cones to be laid on those that are closed.

Kier is currently trialing the system at the A3 Hindhead Tunnel in Surrey.

Read More