Paul Thompson 16 March 2018

Carriageway ironwork should be seen and not heard

The sight and sound of failed ironwork installations is all too common within our busy road network. It’s an issue that plagues local authorities and contractors alike and stems from how the installation of each access cover is planned.

In my experience there are four key steps that should be considered for each individual access cover and built into the overall road maintenance planning.

The first step is to focus on the road type, frequency and speed of vehicles using it, whilst also understanding the traffic based issues the road will have to contend with. For example, it may be a heavily trafficked route with a lot of HGV use. Consideration should then be given to the location of each access cover in relation to the wheel track and how forces from different vehicle types act upon it.

Having this information will then give you everything you need to determine the base specification of the product, onto which you can add any additional client or operator requirements. This then leads onto the final most critical step, which is often the one that causes the most problems and that is installation.

Why aren’t we making more noise about collaborating on product installation?

There is no point in going through a rigorous inspection and specification process without then paying equal care and attention to the selected products installation. Our experts are often called in to assist with advice on this approach, as there are numerous factors that can impact individual locations or stretches of road.

This is especially the case when it comes to heavily trafficked carriageways, as we found out from contractor Amey in 2017, when it was faced with repairing failed noisy access covers every 3 months, following numerous complaints. Working for Kent County Council, Highways, Transportation & Waste, Amey was responsible for maintaining a busy route that served as part of the dedicated Fastrack bus network.

Highlighting the issue the council faced, John Reynolds, Highways Engineer for Kent County Council, Highways, Transportation & Waste said: “We were having continual issues with access covers failing, particularly where there was heavy loading and turning in one particular location.”

Having been contacted by John, our Saint-Gobain PAM technical team investigated the issue and suggested both a new access cover, which incorporates an elastomer gasket to help absorb pressure from traffic travelling over it and addressing the actual installation of product.

Collaboration leads to cost savings

The new approach was initially trialled at the location where it had the most issues with a failing installation. The chosen product has now been in situ for 18 months and it has had no noise complaints in that time from residents. By working collaboratively in this way, not only has Kent County Council, Highways, Transportation & Waste got a new proven solution, they have also recognised the importance of trained installers.

John Reynolds: “As a result of this collaboration, we now replace any failed access cover with the Saint-Gobain PAM Pamrex cover on our A and B roads, or those carriageways which have particular issues. We also insist that we only use Amey trained contractors for its installation. To date there have been no failures on the 30 plus new covers that we have since installed on our roads.”

The payback for Kent County Council, Highways, Transportation & Waste by taking a total cost of ownership solution approach is significant, with savings of almost 60 percent over five years using the new solution, when compared to the previous installations. It is this type of saving for the tax payer that we should really all make a noise about.

For further information about Saint-Gobain PAM Pamrex and other access cover and gratings solutions contact: Saint-Gobain PAM, Lows Lane, Stanton-by-Dale, Ilkeston, Derbyshire. DE7 4QU. Email or visit

Paul Thompson Marketing Manager, Saint-Gobain PAM

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