The UK market for velocity patching road repairs is maturing and suppliers are having to up their game. One company, however, remains ahead of the crowd.
No one has advanced the science and technology of velocity patching in the UK anything like as much as Richard Jackson, managing director of Velocity UK Ltd. It was he alone, virtually, who in the late 1990s created the market for what was then a highly innovative method of repairing road defects. The system uses high velocity air to clean potholes and then blast in asphalt. It is much more sophisticated than that now, and velocity patching has become accepted as a road maintenance technique of genuine value.
The only problem for Richard Jackson is that success has brought competition – he is now by no means alone in the market place. “I wouldn’t use the word problem myself,” he says. “I think concern expresses my feelings rather better, about what is becoming a more crowded market. The industry as a whole is working hard to improve standards in road surface treatments but it’s up to clients to gauge the appropriateness of specialist suppliers and make the right choices.” Not everyone is sufficiently qualified, he believes. “Public sector clients in particular need to be cautious about spending tax payers’ money on companies which cannot demonstrate adherence to the right codes and standards and may not be able to deliver the goods.”
In terms of codes and standards, velocity patching has come of age with a bang. The process is now regulated by BS 434-2: 2006 and also National Highway Sector Scheme 13. There is a code of practice for velocity patching issued by the Road Surface Treatment Association which has recently been endorsed by ADEPT; training courses are available with an NVQ in prospect; and there is a CSCS card for the process.
Richard Jackson has been an active promoter of enhanced technology and practice; and also of Velocity UK Ltd becoming as well qualified as possible, in terms of both the capabilities of its plant to do the work properly and those of its workforce to do the same. The company is effectively in two halves these days since its merger with the giant Pearson Engineering. Research and development plus the manufacture of Velocity machines for export takes place in Newcastle upon Tyne while road maintenance services consultancy and contracting is based in Sunderland.
“I believe we’ve got the best of velocity patching machines, particularly in respect of materials delivery and placement. Our latest generation machines are computer controlled, lighter and more efficient than before, with much neater compaction of asphalt and a far lower carbon footprint,” he says. Advanced vehicle tracking and monitoring systems enable the performance of each vehicle to be monitored and clients to see where exactly repairs have been carried out.
“Our crews are well trained, well motivated and highly experienced. Our knowledge of the materials we use – the aggregates and specialist emulsions – plus the right techniques to use to suit particular circumstances are second to none, meaning excellent repairs. We know what is appropriate and what is not,” he says. “I believe this sets us apart.”
And you do not have to take Richard Jackson’s word for it. Velocity patching falls within the scope of BS 434-2: 2006 and Velocity UK Ltd will soon be registered to NHSS 13, which embraces velocity patching.
The company adheres strictly to the RSTA’s code of practice; all its contracting personnel hold the appropriate CSCS card; and the team keeps winning contracts. “I think we can claim to be market leader,” Richard Jackson says.
Velocity patching coming of age
Velocity patching’ has developed into a generic phrase, the process itself having been formally recognised in recent times and increasingly controlled by officialdom. Velocity patching is now regulated by BS 434-2: 2006: ‘Code of practice for the use of cationic bitumen emulsions on roads and other paved areas’, which – in common with other standards published by the British Standards Institution – specifies recommended procedures, quality of output, terminology and so on.
It also comes under National Highway Sector Scheme 13, which defines minimum qualifications and competencies for various surface treatments, including velocity patching. (NHSSs have been developed to interpret the international management scheme ISO 9001:2000, as this applies to a particular activity within the UK.)
Perhaps more pragmatic is the Road Surface Treatment Association’s code of practice for velocity patching, a relatively new code that has been peer reviewed and endorsed by ADEPT (the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport).
This offers the definitive definition of velocity patching and sets out what constitutes industry best practice – providing practical guidance on how to achieve high quality repairs.
It recommends right off that clients should opt for competent contractors and states that the simplest way to achieve this is to select at tender stage only companies accredited to NHSS 13.
The RSTA runs regular training courses including ones for velocity patching. A CSCS card is available appropriate to the process; and an NVQ is being developed. Public sector clients have no excuse – through their tender selection and award processes – not to chose appropriately qualified firms to carry out their velocity patching work.
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