Assessment, Costing and enHancement of long lIfe, Long Linear assEtS (ACHILLES)

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Sch of Engineering

Abstract

Infrastructure is fundamental to our economy and society, e.g. being one of the 10 pillars of the recently launched UK Industrial Strategy. Long linear (geotechnical) assets (LLAs) are a major component of this infrastructure and fundamental to the delivery of critical services over long distances (e.g. road & railway slopes, pipeline bedding, flood protection structures). Central government infrastructure investment will rise by almost 60% to £22 billion p.a. by 2022 (ONS). This will support both the development of new infrastructure, and the repair of existing infrastructure. At present, there are 10,200 km of flood defences in Great Britain; 80,000 km of highways; 15,800 km of railway). Failure of these assets is common-place (e.g. in 2015 there were 143 earthworks failures on Network Rail - >2 per week), the resulting cost of failure is high (e.g. for Network Rail, emergency repairs cost 10 times planned works, which cost 10 times maintenance), and vulnerability to these failures is significant (748,000 properties with at least a 1-in-100 annual chance of flooding; derailment from slope failure is the greatest infrastructure-related risk faced by our railways). However, the exact reasons for - and timing of - failure is, at present, poorly understood. This leads to unanticipated failures that cause severe disruption and damage to reputation. Current approaches to design and asset management perpetuate this situation as they are based on past experience, which cannot be extrapolated to future performance: the infrastructure is older, ever more intensively used and subject to increasingly extreme weather patterns. Together, these factors significantly increase the likelihood of failures in the future causing reduced performance and poorer service. Climate change has been identified as one of the factors driving this change.
There is an exciting opportunity to bring together new advances in research and technology with design and asset management practices from diferent LLAs to reduce the risks posed to infrastructure systems by deterioration and future change. Current techniques can estimate future rates of deterioration that might lead to failure in transport infrastructure slopes, but are difficult to scale up, do not capture all drivers of deterioration relevant to all LLAs, are poor at dealing with uncertainty and heterogeneity, and lack rigorous validation against representative field data. Different asset owners have access to vast quantities of failure and condition data from their networks (recently enabled by technological advances in data capture and storage) but use different approaches to address failure based on historical data. ACHILLES proposes a research programme that brings these approaches together, coupled with statistical advances to enable rigorous use of network data, and economics to assess the value of design, monitoring and mitigation options. Our long-term vision is for the UK's infrastructure to deliver consistent, affordable and safe services, underpinned by intelligent design, management and maintenance. ACHILLES proposes a Programme to address this challenge by combining laboratory/field experimentation, numerical modelling and simulation, statistical data and cost benefit analysis, and activities to enable its outcomes to be adopted by LLA owners/operators:
Deeper understanding of material and asset deterioration and how to model and predict
New design tools to account for deterioration; and assessment tools to characterise
Strategies to mitigate deterioration from material to asset scale
Decision-making framework to prioritise spending on design, monitoring and/or interventions that accounts for heterogeneity and uncertainty, and informs appropriate business cases
Better understanding of the importance of characterising heterogeneity and uncertainty for infrastructure decision making processes
Knowledge and tools to incorporate data analytics into asset assessment and monitoring

Planned Impact

£20 billion is invested annually by the UK Government in infrastructure (digital, energy, transport, water, flood defence). We must be certain that it delivers safe, resilient and affordable service that meets societal need. The functioning of infrastructure systems is dependent upon the ground beneath or around its assets (e.g. pylon, pipe or railtrack). Tools to assess, monitor, design and repair the performance of the ground are fundamental. ACHILLES will deliver these tools.

The knowledge and tools that arise from ACHILLES will transform LLA practice which currently relies heavily on empirical data derived from historical performance and professional judgement. We will engage with a vast network of potential beneficiaries to embed new knowledge into practice guidance, asset management standards, software tools, and policy associated with the investment, safety and resilience of assets. A summary of the major users/beneficiaries of the research is provided below. Primary benefits arise from direct collaboration with the research; secondary benefits are generated through the actions of others utilising our research outcomes (and thus may manifest sometime after completion of the programme).

1. Techniques and tools to assess asset performance - Primary beneficiaries : Asset Owners (Highways England, Network Rail, TfL, Canal and River Trust, Environment Agency, HS2 Engineering consultants. Secondary beneficiaries : Society and Service Users

2. Data on asset performance - Primary beneficiaries : as 1

3. Data interpretation methods - Primary beneficiaries : as 1. Secondary beneficiaries: sensor developers and data anaylsts.

4. Prioritised investment strategies (migration) - Primary beneficiaries: Asset Owners, IPA. Secondary beneficiaries : NIC and Government.

5. Design tools and techniques - Primary beneficiaries : HS2, Engineering Consultants. Secondary beneficiaries : Industry and society.

6. Outcomes to inform guidance and standards (including adaptatin to climate change) - Primary beneficiaries : John Dora Consulting, CIRIA. Secondary beneficiaries : Industry and society.

7. Cost savings, reduced disruption, improved safety, improved services - Secondary beneficiaries : IPA, NIC, Society.

8. New technologies, new markets for products - Primary beneficiaries : Sensor and software developers (Model Center).

9. Awareness of the role of infrastructure, impact of climate change, role of science and engineering - Primary beneficiaries : Students and the public.

A stakeholder-led Impact Advisory Group will be constituted in order to provide the routes to these impacts: Standards development and dissemination via specialist consultant (John Dora Consulting), embedding advances in modelling and data handling into commercial software via specialist software developer Model Center; changing industry practice via asset owners and their consultants; influencing industry more broadly via CIRIA; policy influence via the Infrastructure and Projects Authority. Impact milestones will be set by the Impact Advisory Group. Short-term secondments of ECA and RAs to these stakeholder organisations are planned. Additional translation to practice will be gained through regular attendance at the meetings of multi-partner groups (e.g. GAOF who represent the LLA owners, Natural Hazards Partnership), sensor and software developers and data specialists via, e.g. the National Innovation Centre for Data in Newcastle and relevant CATAPULTs (Transport Systems & Future Cities). We will showcase impacts on society via e.g. the Great Exhibition of the North (2018) and Global Grand Challenge Summits. Academic impact will be made via TCs, conferences, workshops, direct academic engagement and training ECAs.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Our programme grant is still ongoing, but in the first 9 months we have made significant steps forward in our capability to model long-term performance of long linear assets as these are affected by weather events. We are now much better able to replicate historical deterioration of these assets using sophisticated computer models (validated against field observations) and are therefore confident that we can develop methods to reliably model future performance of long-linear geotechnical infrastructure assets. We have also been able to develop methods to assess the impacts of geotechnical interventions on the performance of long linear assets (both historical and future planned interventions). We are progressing this in collaboration with national infrastructure network asset managers who have shown great interest in our work and need this to better plan for the future.
Exploitation Route Our research findings will influence design practice (through a more robust underpinning of design parameters with quantifiable, long term assessments of rates of deterioration and deformation of geotechnical assets); the construction of earthworks (including the implementation (type and timing) of remediation interventions); the monitoring and management of earthworks (what to look out for, how to work with heterogeneity and what/when to plan interventions); and investment strategies (planning the timelines of financial implications of managing the assets).
Sectors Construction,Transport

 
Description Our achievements in pushing the envelope of modelling earthworks deterioration has sparked considerable interest from major national infrastructure stakeholders. This has resulted in increasingly detailed discussions with Network Rail about influencing earthworks management not just with their geotechnical staff, but also with staff involved in business planning. Our research outcomes on quantification of deterioration rates and cost implications for early interventions is being used to assist with clarification of the need for a better share of funds for remediation works and financial planning for the current and next control periods. Our research has influenced the project portfolio of Highways England and it is steering discussions on the design of earthworks for HS2.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Transport
Impact Types Economic

 
Description EPSRC RISE (Recognising Inspirational Scientists and Engineers) Connector award
Amount £500 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2018 
End 11/2019
 
Description ARUP 
Organisation Arup Group
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Provision of research results relevant to infrastructure projects.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of facilities for meetings. Support with dissemination.
Impact Outputs still to be determined - on-going activity.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Amey iSMART 
Organisation Amey PLC
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution contributions to iSMART expert advisory board
Collaborator Contribution critical evaluation of project progress and relevance to stakeholders
Impact active involvement in expert advisory board
Start Year 2014
 
Description Atkins iSMART 
Organisation WS Atkins
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution contributions to iSMART expert advisory board
Collaborator Contribution critical evaluation of project progress and relevance to stakeholders
Impact active involvement in expert advisory board
Start Year 2014
 
Description Environment Agency 
Organisation Environment Agency
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Access to research results relevant to water and flood protection infrastructure.
Collaborator Contribution Access to field data and sites. Attendance at meetings and access to staff.
Impact On-going discussions about access to test sites for research projects.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Geotechnics iSMART 
Organisation Geotechnics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution contributions to iSMART expert advisory board
Collaborator Contribution critical evaluation of project progress and relevance to stakeholders
Impact active involvement in expert advisory board
Start Year 2014
 
Description HS2 
Organisation Geotechnics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Provision of research results relevant to rail new build.
Collaborator Contribution Facilities for steering group meetings, HS2 experts attending steering group meetings. Dissemination through supply chain.
Impact Active involvement in stakeholder events.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Highways England 
Organisation Department of Transport
Department Highways Agency
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Access to research results relevant to road infrastructure.
Collaborator Contribution Attendance at project meetings. Access to data and R&D initiatives.
Impact Meeting at stakeholder event on 4 Feb 2019, with follow on discussions on suitable test sites.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Mott Macdonald UK Ltd 
Organisation Mott Macdonald UK Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2007
 
Description MottMac iSMART 
Organisation Mott Macdonald UK Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Contributions to iSMART expert advisory board
Collaborator Contribution Critical evaluation of project progress and relevance to stakeholders
Impact Active involvement in expert advisory board
Start Year 2014
 
Description Network Rail iSMART 
Organisation Network Rail Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Contributions to iSMART expert advisory board
Collaborator Contribution Critical evaluation of project progress and relevance to stakeholders
Impact active involvement in expert advisory board
Start Year 2014
 
Description Severn Trent 
Organisation Severn Trent Water
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Access to research results relevant to water industry infrastructure.
Collaborator Contribution Access to infrastructure network and data. Attendance at stakeholder events. Dissemination of research outputs.
Impact Awaiting results from research activities.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Discussion with Highways England 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Discussion about future collaborations and involvement in impact advisory group
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Discussion with Network Rail 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Discussion of data sharing and pathways to impact
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Expert Advisory Board and Impact advsory group attendance at workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Discussions about future directions of Programme
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description India Landslide Workshop: Keynote presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presented invited opening keynote at the Mastermind Session on Landslide Hazards in India Workshop, January 2019. The event was organised by the National Centre for Earth Science Studies, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India. Workshop participants comprised India Government policy makers and India leading academic researchers. The aim of the workshop was to develop a national landslide programme for India.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Interview for Ministerial Review: "Network Rail vegetation management review: valuing nature, a railway for people and wildlife" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Rail Minister Jo Johnson announced the appointment of John Varley OBE TD to chair the review of Network Rail's approach to vegetation management in England and Wales.
The review was launched by the Rail Minister on 10 May 2018 to consider how Network Rail can best ensure the safety of our railways, while also protecting wildlife and preserving trees.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/network-rail-vegetation-management-review-valuing-nature-...
 
Description Joint meeting of Impact Advisory Board and Expert Advisory Panel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact presentation to industry, government and academics to discuss pathways to impact and international engagement and partnership opportunities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation at Nanyang Technological University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Presentation and discussion with Academics, researchers and practitioners in Singapore
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation to CARe2018 in Hong Kong 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation and discussion around climate impacts on geotechnical infrastructure and how to create increased resilience in the face of climate change
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://care2018.ust.hk/index.php/report01/
 
Description Presentation to Geotechnical Asset Owners Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Discussion around involvement on stakeholder group and development of National Geotechnical Infrastructure Observatory
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Published a blog article with Institute for Policy Research (IPR). Title: How do we maintain invisible transport infrastructure? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The blog post was for the Institute for Policy Research (IPR) who are based in Bath. The blog has 3000 monthly readers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://blogs.bath.ac.uk/iprblog/2018/10/30/how-do-we-maintain-invisible-transport-infrastructure/
 
Description Stakeholder Engagement - London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A series of presentations to industry and academic members (48 attendees) of the External Advisory Board and other Stakeholders, of research activities planned for the ACHILLES series of projects. The purpose was to explain the aims of the research programme and to obtain feed-back from the stakeholders on how they could assist, and what would be their preferred priorities. A key outcome is the follow on discussions with key stakeholders (Environment Agency and Network Rail) for future activities - new meetings scheduled in April 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Virtual meeting with Simon Abbott via Teams 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Detailed discussion of pathways to impact
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description discussion with Environment Agency on collaboration and field sites 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact progressed discussion on collaborations and field site development
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description iSMART/ACHILLES presentation at tradeshow 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact presentation of the outcomes from iSMART and the plans for ACHILLES to a broad audience. It resulted in in-depth discussions and reached people outside out normal network.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description invited lecture to East Midlands Geological Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact 30+ people attended the invited lecture that reported on previous work of iSMART project and current research conducted by ACHILLES programme grant. Attendees were from a range of backgrounds. Several travelled from beyond midlands to attend. Following the lecture there was lively debate. It has resulted in broadening actively engaged stakeholder network and intensification of links with key consultants who attended subsequent events organised by ACHILLES
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description meeting with Environment Agency to discuss potential field sites 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of research plans followed by discussion of potential collaboration and development of field sites
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description presentation at CIRIA event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Present findings from iSMART and seek engagement with newly funded Programme Grant - sparked questions and willingness to engage
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018