Existing methods of pre-marking for road markings has not changed since its inception, it is a slow and labour-intensive activity. The process involves operatives or the client’s engineers, calculating where the road markings should be, then walking the route with a measuring wheel and marking with aerosol paint. This process has several downsides; for safety, especially people plant interface issues with operatives or engineers on the carriageway, potential back injuries from bending over to spray for many hours and also using a potentially hazardous substance in a windy environment. On delivery, there is potential for human error, risks of changing weather conditions affecting the task and because it’s a slow process the time spent will take engineers away from another activity, decreasing productivity.
To eliminate these risks, improve productivity and save on cost, WJ has explored if a ROBOT could be adapted for the road marking sector. Collaborating through one of their European partners WJ identified robotic technology which has proved to be the fastest pre-marking robot in the world and was ideal for the task. It is easily transportable to the site weighing only 18kg and fits in the boot of a car/van. It’s completely autonomous using GNSS for its navigation and can mark out centre lines, and car park bays, and via a USB can mark out any other shape such as arrows, lettering, hatching, numbers and even logos.
The robot has been used on several projects so far to great effect, vastly increasing productivity. On the M4 for Colas/Balfour Beatty the robot was tasked to mark out the back of the hard shoulder line along a 5km section on both sides of the carriageway. The robot completed the task ‘safely’ in five hours, a job that would normally take an engineer four shifts.
Balfour Beatty asked us for 8km of setting out for surface works on the M6 J4-J2. The robot marked out the job at one-metre centres in about three hours.
Site agent Maciej Kozlowski commented, “My engineers were absolutely astonished by the robot, setting that out would have taken both of them a week.”
However, the robot isn’t only fast, it’s also accurate. It marked out 3km of outside lane edge along the M1 for Costain & Galliford Try JV and when the engineers went to check the marking, they found using Geomax Zenith GPS/GNSS system that over the 3km the robot averaged a 5mm tolerance, which is well within the 25mm tolerance engineers normally work to.
Also, on the M60 Manchester Smart Motorway, the robot was used to mark out the slip road and the tigers tail detail. This is a task that is notoriously difficult to complete by hand, whereas the robot completed it with ease, more than halving the time it took to carry out the activity.
In conclusion, the robot is revolutionising the way this process is carried out making it safer, faster and more accurately than it has ever been before. Wayne Johnston WJ Group Managing Director commented “It is all part of our aim to automate outdated methods and a determination to develop better and safer ways if working”
Robotic PreMarking is provided by WJ Group as a contracting service and delivers a much-needed innovation for the road marking sector.