Meeting the challenges of past, present and future routes

According to the Asphalt Industry Alliance’s Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance Survey (ALARM), 1.7 million potholes were filled in 2021, which equates to one every 19 seconds. With 18% of the UK road network now defined as structurally poor, the monumental task is not only to restore it, but also to ensure that future additions go the distance. Here, Nick White, EMEA Sales Manager at National Flooring Equipment, surface preparation experts, explains how using state-of-the-art equipment could be the solution.

Contractors are under pressure to deliver new road structures while simultaneously repairing existing roads to meet the same standards. This is a timely problem because the more time passes, the more roads need to be repaired, adding to the backlog that already exists. While it’s important to deal with the backlog, rushing the job with quick fixes, such as surface dressing, creates more problems than it solves. If the job is not completed efficiently, problems like potholes will quickly reappear, which means contractors have wasted time on the renovation and the road needs more maintenance.

Current Terms

To reduce traffic disruption, contractors typically carry out roadwork at night, with limited visibility. Contractors may also need to consider how they work in difficult weather conditions, such as heat, rain or storms, to ensure there is no delay in the project. Dust and particles such as airborne silica to which workers are exposed are a hazard and another source of disturbance. These conditions often mean that contractors are under more pressure to complete projects quickly and may choose to take shortcuts to get the project completed on time.

The ALARM report also says the backlog of damaged roads has already reached £12billion. With twelve major new road construction projects announced in 2020, it is crucial that these roads are built to last in the first place. Effective surface preparation is essential to the longevity of a new or upgraded road. When this is not done correctly, contractors can damage the substrate or create an uneven surface by not removing all of the existing material, which means that any new surface will also be uneven. So how can contractors perform surface preparation safely and efficiently under these conditions?

Choice of equipment

Before beginning a surface preparation job, contractors should take the time to choose the right tools for the application. For example, large scale problems require large scale solutions, so a larger scraper will be more effective than a smaller portable scraper. Also, the cords will limit machine operators on large scale applications such as roads, so a fuel machine might be better suited.

Safety is always an important consideration in surface preparation. As contractors work the roads later at night and are exposed to the elements, they should consider using a machine that keeps them covered and protected to increase uptime. The Viking Ride-On Scraper, for example, is designed for outdoor applications. It includes an enclosed cab with heating and air conditioning to protect the operator from dust, noise and weather, as well as headlights and windscreen wipers to improve visibility. The machine is also equipped with three blade holders to ensure that operators have a powerful machine capable of removing tough materials with ease.

Solving the current backlog of road repairs in the UK effectively could be a daunting task. However, with the right surface preparation equipment for harsh outdoor conditions, operators will be able to work safely and quickly to ensure effective repairs.

For more tips on effective floor preparation and to find the right equipment for your next surface preparation job, visit