The top 7 challenges facing asphalt contractors
When it comes to laying and maintaining the surfaces of Britain’s roads, the UK’s asphalt contractors have their work cut out. There are more than 245 thousand miles of public roads, and the work doesn’t end there—cycle tracks, pedestrian paths, car parks, airport runways, private roads, ports and freight depots all need to be kept safe and driveable as well. That means a lot of maintenance and a lot of working in a particularly challenging environment.
The asphalt contractors’ top 7 challenges
- Employee safety—asphalt companies are often called upon to do emergency repairs in dangerous situations. Working at night, on motorways, in tunnels and on bridges calls for the strictest health and safety precautions to be maintained at all times.
- Staff training—today’s road surfacing best practices are becoming increasingly technical as surfaces are developed to provide safer and more durable pavements. Staff need to be appropriately skilled, calling for wider investment in training and CPD.
- Speed—closing a major road, even for a short spell of time, costs money, disrupts road users and can have a significant economic impact in the surrounding area. For this reason, asphalt companies are always under pressure to work as fast as they possibly can without cutting corners on quality and safety.
- Industry regulations—to work for Highways England and many local authorities, asphalt contractors need to gain National Highway Sector Schemes certification in all the areas in which they tender for work. This requires an assessment by the appropriate auditing body for each discipline as processes, activities and personnel are scrutinised.
- Sustainability—environmentally responsible asphalt contractors will take the issue of sustainability seriously, as well as considering the environmental impact of their work. This includes managing biodiversity, controlling embodied carbon and resource usage, and encouraging environmental best practice.
- Tendering—tendering for large government and local authority projects requires a skillset all of its own, and the process can be both costly and time-consuming. Failed tenders represent a cost to the business and even successful tenders can cause projects to be less profitable.
- Collaboration—laying, maintaining and repairing pavement surfaces is not down to asphalt contractors alone. Each project requires collaboration with a variable number of additional contractors with specialisms in other fields. This requires careful planning and good communication to keep a project running to schedule when multiple contractors are working together.
Asphalt contractors are working in a developing industry that is becoming increasingly regulated and sophisticated. Only those who can effectively address the challenges outlined above will continue to thrive and survive.
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