Kier Highways has designed and built a machine that it says offers a safer, more sustainable and more efficient method for removing waterproof membranes from road assets.
It said the Deck Scraper vehicle uses unique blade-technology to quietly shave membrane from structures such as bridges and underpasses without damaging the road surface underneath.
Waterproof membranes are routinely used to help protect structures against corrosive damage from salt spread as part of winter maintenance but have to be removed to undertake concrete repairs, re-waterproofing and resurfacing.
This is traditionally done with an excavator that digs into the road’s surface but Kier said its Deck Scraper offers a better alternative and significantly reduces vibration, dust and noise pollution.
The machine is also smaller than excavators and diggers and does not need an arm or a bucket, giving the operator 360-degree visibility.
It was developed with partners CLM construction and US-based National Flooring Equipment, with the first prototype unveiled to industry representatives earlier this month.
Kier Highways senior project manager Mark Sheppard said: ‘This was an interesting opportunity to develop a prototype specifically designed to make the task of waterproof membrane removal techniques more efficient, cost effective and better for the environment.
‘By working with our design partners, the project has culminated in the production of a method far removed from the existing techniques, which are quite brutal and can often introduce additional damage to bridge decks as well as being extremely noisy and dusty.
‘And with the creation of the Deck Scraper, we have been able to do that without compromising quality, output or negatively impacting on road users.’
The vehicle was developed following a successful bid for cash from Highways England’s Designated Fund for innovation.
Lisa Maric, innovations lead for the Midlands at Highways England, said: ‘Current methods to remove the waterproof layer are quite antiquated with environmental issues and some risk to the workforce. We wanted to develop a unique machine that would be more efficient and improve the safety of road workers while easing the impact on the environment and communities.
‘Instead of essentially using a steel bucket with teeth to remove the membrane, we can use a blade to simply peel it off – quietly, effectively and without damaging the road which will also save time and money.
‘It is anticipated that thanks to the Deck Scraper, this method will now set the benchmark expected for membrane removal throughout the country.’
After two years of development and having undergone testing in the US, final trials were carried out at the Kier depot in Telford and the machine can now be taken to the market by National Flooring Equipment.