FALCON Automated Cone Laying Machine completes on-road trials

Highway Care’s FALCON Automated Cone Laying Machine (ACLM) has successfully completed both off and on-road trials.

The firm said the FALCON is the first of its kind to reach this stage. It is one of two being trialled as part of Highways England’s Innovation project and is now endorsed for use on the strategic road network (SRN).

It was tested on Kier’s Area 9 contract - with Kier also acting as the project management lead - as well as on the M4 smart motorway scheme through support from Balfour Beatty Vinci JV and Chevron Traffic Management.

Highways England’s minimum performance criteria for an ACLM are that it must be able to lay and collect at least 400 cones at a rate of one cone every 10 seconds, offer a safer method for highways workers and be safe for all road users, and pose no further risk to traffic.

Martin Bolt, Highways England head of lean and continuous improvement, said: ‘The completion of the on-road performance and reliability testing is another significant step in the transition from manual cone laying to an automated process. The reduction in risk of injury to two crew members over that distance and with that volume of cones is the reason why this project is so important.

‘To see the vehicle complete the testing against the minimum requirements is a proud moment for us all and allows Highway Care to move into a first production run. I look forward to seeing the first batch on the Highways England network later in the year.’

Ben Duncker, Highway Care’s business development director, said: ‘We’re immensely proud of what has been achieved over the last 12 months and since the conception of the project over two years ago.

‘To go from concept, to prototype, then into testing and finally achieve a successful review by Highways England’s NSCRG allowing the system to be deployed on the SRN, whilst overcoming various challenges, all during COVID, and within 24 months has been a massive effort. But one we have met head-on with the clear objective to succeed in improving safety for road workers for many years to come.’

FALCON ACLM numbers

  • Successfully completed 220km of live lane trials
  • Over 50 solo-operator shifts completed, and total of 69 live lane closures
  • Over 210 tonnes of cones handled during live-lane trials
  • Average 176 cones per closure/shift, equating to approximately 3.18km per shift at a spacing of 18 metres

Overall FALCON ACLM total numbers

  • Over 57,000 cones deployed
  • Over 756km of lane closed
  • Over 744 tonne of cones deployed

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