UK Highways Agency chose AMG Systems for their smart motorways project

UK Highways Agency chose AMG Systems for their smart motorways project
The Strategic Road Network in England covers over 2,200 miles (3,500Km) and facilitates more than 63 billion vehicle miles per year. The responsibility for this enormous road network lies with the UK Highways Agency (HA). Keeping traffic flowing at all times 24/7- 365 days per year, is key to the economy, both for individuals and for industries, as well as the country as a whole.

Therefore, maintenance and construction work on this vital transport artery network necessitates a comprehensive schedule of maintenance works, across hundreds of miles of infrastructure. During roadwork programmes, as part of the HA’s safety policy, temporary cameras are deployed to monitor and record vehicle traffic and workers. P&D Specialist Services (P&DSS) has been contracted to design and implement video surveillance monitoring systems for a number of large maintenance and construction programmes on the English Motorways. In this interview, Group Managing Director Pat Musgrave and Project Manager Frank Gearon, give us insight into the video surveillance solution requirements which form an integral part of road construction and maintenance projects, and tell us why they have chosen AMG Systems’ transmission technology for their projects.

P&D Specialist Services are experts in the design and installation of video surveillance systems for the Highways Industry. The company has undertaken a series of projects to supply temporary cameras to motorways with road works across the UK, with the most recent implementations as follows: 
  • The M1 – Junction 15-19, a 33 km stretch with 78 cameras
  • The M3 – Junctions 2-4a, a 31 km stretch with 109 cameras
  • The M60/M62 – Part of the Manchester ‘Smart Motorways Scheme’ - a 35 km stretch with 142 cameras

A new project on the M1 - Junctions 32-35a, a stretch of 23km, will commence April 2015. The M1 project will introduce a stretch of ‘managed motorway’ between Junction 32 and Junction 35a. This will help relieve congestion by using the hard shoulder as a running lane, and using technology to vary the mandatory speed limits. Starting with 30 cameras, the M1 video surveillance roadworks solution will grow to 60 cameras over the project period.

“Before any construction work can be conducted, Free Recovery cameras must be positioned along the Motorway at regular intervals for the entire length of the works. These will be monitored for breakdowns, accidents or incidents. The video from each camera is transmitted back to a 24 hour temporary monitoring station where it is recorded. As construction work cannot be started on the Motorway unless the cameras are operational, speed of deployment and system reliability, are paramount to minimize travel disruption and engineering costs.” Group Managing Director of P&DSS, Pat Musgrave explains.

“When a stretch of motorway undergoes roadworks, it often means that there are no emergency telephones as the hard shoulder is often being used as a ’running lane’. The result is that motorists have nowhere to stop safely and summon assistance in event of a breakdown or accident. That’s where the video surveillance solutions we deliver come in. The aim is to deliver a real-time overview of the entire stretch of works and link all the images from the cameras back to the 24/7 manned control room. We use fibre optic cables to cope with the long distances involved, and this is where AMG’s transmission technology plays a vital part. We have been working with AMG since 2009 so they’re a proven supply chain partner when it comes to fibre optic transmission equipment.” According to Frank Gearon, Project Manager at P&DSS.

One of the key advantages of using AMG’s transmission equipment is that they require a smaller number of fibers, which again means quicker fibre splicing during installation and that saves time. We have huge experience of doing these projects, and they all run with strict project deadlines.

The M1 project took 8 weeks, M3 took 10 weeks, and M60/M62 took 12 weeks. So saving time during installation is really important to us, and I am happy to report that all projects were completed on time,” Frank says with a smile.

Pat Musgrave adds, “Historically we used the acclaimed AMG 3700 series on some of the earlier projects, one of which was a Managed Motorway project on the M4/M5 Almondsbury Interchange at Bristol. But since 2013, we’ve decided to implement the AMG 9024– Multi-Service Ethernet Switch series (M-SES) affectionately known as the ‘Wonderbox’.”

AMG decided to design and develop the ‘Wonderbox’ series of M-SES, as the company spotted a decided need in the market for a product which could bridge legacy video surveillance systems with n ew IP cameras, without having to involve a third party products. The Wonderbox series was launched in January 2013 and was an instant hit with systems integrators grappling with the transition from analogue to digital technology in large critical video surveillance solutions which required either upgrading or expansion. This revolutionary product series not only provides Layer 2 Managed Ethernet functionality, but ‘bridges the gap’ between analogue and ‘IP’ technologies by supporting easy integration of low-speed serial data channels and alarm contacts, alongside analogue video, onto an Ethernet backbone. This approach dramatically reduces hardware and infrastructure requirements.

Pat Musgrave continues, “On all the projects we have worked closely with the AMG technology team. We had specific requirements for the M60/M62 project and requested a proprietary redundancy feature which AMG implemented – known as the ‘X-ring’. The X-ring protocol allows an unlimited number M-SES units on each fibre loop, and sub-loops can be added seamlessly, whilst delivering redundancy protection in the case of switch or fibre failure. Failure is a real risk in a construction environment, where major engineering work frequently damages cables and roadside equipment. By integrating the dedicated video codec and RS232/RS485 into the MSES switch, video lag and control data is minimal. We also found that it was necessary to get upgrades of the firmware, and they were issued so quickly by AMG that we were able to complete the project on time.”

Asked on the process for training, Frank Gearon says, “In terms of training, one of our lead engineers was trained by AMG and has ongoing liaison with the company. He, in turn, passed on knowledge to other engineers on site. This approach has saved time and money as the training process has worked very efficiently.” 

Unfortunately for motorists, construction work on motorways often takes a long time to complete. Projects can run up to 18-24 months. This is mostly due to the fact that it’s necessary to keep the roads open for traffic, with fewer lanes, and enforced speed limits throughout the project. Although the construction companies obviously try their very best to take advantage of the hours in the night where traffic flows are much reduced, the weather conditions can also play a part in disrupting work schedules. It is therefore necessary, not only for the video surveillance systems to have longevity, but also to be seriously ruggedized to sustain the dust and weather conditions which can be very unpredictable.

Pat Musgrave concludes, “We consider AMG to be a very good technology partner. They’re extremely knowledgeable about their products and the projects they’re involved in. They always accommodate our requirements and when there are problems, they work to solve them with us. The staff are very open and friendly and our relationship with the company is such that we deal with all levels of staff from the MD down.” 

The roadwork projects with video surveillance have now been in operation for several months for each stretch. M1 – 6 months, M3- 4 months and M60/62 - 3 months. The managed motorway’ project on the M1 between Junction 32 and 35a is commencing April 2015.

Serving the highways industry since 1986, P&D Specialist Services have a proven reputation for high quality work, providing a broad range of services that can be adapted to meet the needs of any project.

Operating in the vicinity of high speed roads demands the highest standards in safe systems of work, which P&D implement in partnership with their clients. As NICEIC contractors, they also possess the mandatory Highways Agency Sector Scheme Approval to carry out electrical works on the HA motorway network, along with ISO 9001 - 2008 UKAS Quality Management Systems and ISO 14001 Environmental accreditations.

Their expertise in electrical and civil engineering is reinforced by a commitment to building stable, long lasting relationships with main contractors and suppliers, ensuring that they can always provide the flexibility, expertise, reliability and quality that their customers demand. 

AMG is a global provider of video and communication transmission solutions designed for video surveillance operations in transport, public, government and military sector. AMG also manufactures a range of IP Cameras under the AMG-Panogenics brand.

AMG Transmission Solutions offers a full range of transmission technologies including multimode and singlemode video, data and audio fiber optic transmission systems; single & multi-channel unshielded twisted pair (UTP) links for video, data & audio; multi-port Ethernet switches for the transmission of IP based solutions over fiber, and both analogue and digital wireless products for the transmission of video & data. As a result AMG transmission solutions have been successfully implemented in many high profile projects throughout the world. Projects include supplying the transmission system for the UK’s NRTS project and the security and surveillance of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar. AMG Transmission Solutions and AMG-Panogenics are brand names of AMG Systems. 


Product Adopted:
Fiber-Optic Transmission
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