Contractor Colas has called on highways clients to be bolder and relax specifications to allow greater innovation and new technologies to be used.
Colas chief executive Lee Rushbrooke said technologies currently being used on mainland Europe could be brought to bear in the UK.
“There is definitely still a reluctance to embrace innovative ways of working,” he said. “And it’s frustrating because some of it is not new – our Colas Group has used numerous innovations throughout Europe and yet we have difficulties proving to UK clients that technologies from abroad will work on their networks.”
Rushbrooke added new techniques such have been used by its booming airfields business, yet are still not approved for highways use.
Rushbrooke was speaking ahead of a rebrand for the £283M turnover contractor aimed at highlighting its skills beyond its highways maintenance tradition. The rebrand was unveiled to the industry at last week’s Chartered Institution of Hihghways and Transportation annual lunch.
Colas has decided to stop being shy about its skills and abilities and re-launch itself to the market as a top of the range provider of technically engineered contracting, network solutions and products and processes.
“We are an intelligent service provider; we do the blackstuff but that is far from all,” he said. “We can help our customers solve problems in areas like asset management, value management and project management. And we offer a technical engineering ability backed by systems technology that helps our clients work out the best answer for their assets.”
Colas can do this through its own strengths in the UK including a dedicated value management team and because it has access to the resources of its parent and extended family.
The £ 283M turnover Colas UK business is part of a high tech French operation Colas SA which is itself owned by the giant blue chip Bouygues business. Colas SA turns over £11.7bn and has one of the largest private research and development pavement facilities in Europe - the Campus of Science and Techniques. This is constantly coming up with refinements to existing products and new innovations to improve the quality, cost efficiency and practicality of pavement techniques.
“We want to use the strength of the Colas Group and the R&D facility to offer customers better products, processes and services. And in a climate where clients are demanding more for less we should be shouting about this,” said Rushbrooke.
“We are not reinventing ourselves,” he added. “We are just telling people what we do. We’ve been too modest and shy in the past.”