The government is trialling the use of data capturing as part of an £88.4m project to improve access to the port of Immingham by monitoring highway equipment on the A160.
Contractors working on the port’s access road are tagging assets owned by Highways England, such as street lights, signs, pavements and drains, through the use of RFID, QR codes and GPS tags.
The tags use a tool developed by Internet of Things firm RedBite which is based in Cambridge, one of the UK’s hotbeds of technology development and startups.
Data from tagged assets is then transmitted to a web page where it is recorded for future use.
Ben Ridgeon, a project manager for Highways England, explained that the technology can improve the way highway equipment is monitored and maintained.
“Managing and tagging assets using intelligent software has many benefits, not only in recording the location of that equipment but, more crucially, in monitoring that asset in the future,” he said.
“Wear and tear is inevitable with such heavy use on our assets. Using a system where we can record and maintain a large amount of data on a range of different equipment can improve accuracy on the condition of those assets.”
Highways England predicted that the project will improve safety on the A160 and see a reduction in traffic congestion and journey times.
The port of Immingham is the UK’s largest in terms of tonnage. It handles 55 million tonnes of goods a year, including 20 tonnes of oil and 10 million tonnes of coal, and improving access with smart technology will reap benefits in terms of efficiency and throughput.
Smart tags are hardly the most cutting-edge of data capturing and digital technologies, but their use by Highways England shows how digital technology can be used in a smart way to transform basic operations.
The project also demonstrates how approaching digital technology adoption with a business transformation strategy is a more intelligent way of putting modern systems and hardware to use than simply pursuing cost savings and IT estate reduction.
Examples of such approaches can be seen in Toyota's partnership with Microsoft and Peterborough City Council's IT operations transformation.
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