Article Infrastructure asset management

A measurement contract in France opens new doors to Europe

For a good two years, Destia has been part of the international Colas Group, which operates in over 50 different countries around the world. One of the most significant benefits offered by the diverse and international group is the opportunity to expand operations to new areas – over the last year, Destia’s equipment could be spotted in Finland, Norway and Sweden, as well as around France, such as in Seine-et-Marne, east of Paris.

In a contract which began last autumn, Destia has carried out approximately 2,000 kilometres of road measurements for the French company Technologies Nouvelles, a subsidiary of Aximum, which is itself a subsidiary of Colas.

“The project was the first of its kind for Destia’s Infrastructure Asset Management unit. During the project, we produced measurement data to support the inventory made by Technologies Nouvelles, which they report onward to their customer,” says Destia’s Infrastructure Asset Management Service Manager, Eleftheria Bountouri.

Tools must be developed for the needs of the customer and environment

The road and street network is valuable infrastructure that is worn down by intensive use and has a major impact on the safety of road users. Studies about the condition of roads provide important information with which the party responsible for the road maintenance can plan the improvement of the network, maintain the condition of the surfacing materials and decide on where to allocate funding.

Destia offers a diverse selection of road and traffic environment measurement, research and quality management services. We use the latest technology, such as imaging technology, machine vision and artificial intelligence, to quickly and efficiently obtain reliable data on the current state and future needs of the road network.

Destia is very familiar with the measurement work itself – what made the project carried out in Seine-et-Marne special was the completely new implementation method, environment and customer, for which a completely unique inventory tool was also needed. The software used for projects in Finland is not suitable for the French environment or the local customers’ requirements as-it-is, so the first order of business for the Destia employees who travelled to France was to develop the software to provide the different types of data required by the customer.

“The needs for the data collected in measurement projects vary between locations and customers, so the software we previously used did not work for this project. The schedule was tight, and the software was developed alongside the actual inventory work, which, naturally, creates challenges and extra work. Now that the software has been completed, we have a good foundation for carrying out other similar projects in France – seeing as we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, and, going forward, we will have the necessary tools already optimised for use,” says Bountouri.

Developing Destia’s software for the French environment has enabled the development of operations for Technologies Nouvelles as well.

“Destia has a lot of technological know-how and resources needed for measurement work and data analysis, which have now been developed to also meet French needs. Together with Destia, we are part of the same group and our successful cooperation has enabled us to develop our measurement services to meet the needs of our customers even better,” says Bruno Joly, Technical Manager at Technologies Nouvelles.

Europe’s climate more favourable for road measurements

Now, the inventory is complete and, after a review and summary, it will be ready to be reported to the customer. During the project, data was collected on the condition of the road surfaces, road markings, traffic signs and other elements relating to the road network, such as thresholds, kilometre posts, railings and other safety equipment.

Although the project is on the home stretch, there will be much to be gained from it for a long time to come.

“The pilot has been a good opportunity for everyone to share their knowledge and experience. We have succeeded in solving many unforeseen challenges and have worked hard to develop the correct operating methods and the software needed for processing the data. However, there is still a lot we can learn from each other and do together with Destia, and I believe that the pilot was just the beginning. Now, the suitable tools and background information have been developed and are ready – we have a good basis for planning the future,” says Joly.

The project was educational for many Destia employees as well – the measurements were carried out by five people, with an additional ten people participating in the inventory from the office. The new environment has offered the experts of Destia’s Infrastructure Asset Management unit the opportunity to develop their skills and gain new experience, which will help them going forward as well.

“The project has been one of the most challenging in my career – in a positive way too. It has offered the entire unit the opportunity to develop and expand our expertise. Due to its location, France offers us more extensive working opportunities in terms of time as well. Here in Finland, the measuring season is very short, roughly April to September, but further south in Europe, the weather is favourable for measuring and the season is clearly longer,” Bountouri says, happily.