Scholarly article on topic 'Benchmarking of Expenditures and Practices of Maintenance and Operation (BEXPRAC)'

Benchmarking of Expenditures and Practices of Maintenance and Operation (BEXPRAC) Academic research paper on "Civil engineering"

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Abstract of research paper on Civil engineering, author of scientific article — Michel Egger

Abstract The National Road Authorities (NRAs) of 13 European launched the BEXPRAC survey in an effort to benchmark the performance of their maintenance and operation policies. The study was split into two modules: A The macroscopic or macro module with a top-down approach B The microscopic or micro module with a bottom-up approach CEDR now has at its disposal a significant international database of road M&O expenses and their main driving factors, as well as a set of common definitions for the main task blocks and templates to facilitate any future updates. The full report may be found at the following website: http://www.cedr.fr/home/fileadmin/user_upload/Publications/2010/e_BEXPRAC.pdf in English http://www.cedr.fr/home/fileadmin/user_upload/Publications/2010/f_BEXPRAC.pdf in French

Academic research paper on topic "Benchmarking of Expenditures and Practices of Maintenance and Operation (BEXPRAC)"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 48 (2012) 1733 - 1742

Transport Research Arena- Europe 2012

Benchmarking of expenditures and practices of maintenance

and operation (BEXPRAC)

Michel EGGER*

CEDR (Conference of European Directors of Roads) La Grand Arche, 92055 Paris-La Défense, France

Abstract

The National Road Authorities (NRAs) of 13 European launched the BEXPRAC survey in an effort to benchmark the performance of their maintenance and operation policies.

The study was split into two modules: A The macroscopic or macro module with a top-down approach B The microscopic or micro module with a bottom-up approach

CEDR now has at its disposal a significant international database of road M&O expenses and their main driving factors, as well as a set of common definitions for the main task blocks and templates to facilitate any future updates.

The full report may be found at the following website: http://www.cedr.fr/home/fileadmin/user_upload/Publications/2010/e_BEXPRAC.pdf in English http://www.cedr.fr/home/fileadmin/user_upload/Publications/2010/f_BEXPRAC.pdf in French

©2012Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer review under responsibility of the Programme Committee of the T ransport Research Arena 2012

Keywords: NRA; operation; maintenance; benchmark; costs; tasks; roads

* Corresponding author E-mail address: michel.egger@cedr.fr

1877-0428 © 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer review under responsibility of the Programme Committee of the Transport Research Arena 2012

doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.06.1148

1. Introduction - Definition of the issue

Two major factors lead to the launch of the project called Benchmark of Expenditures and Practices of maintenance and operation (BEXPRAC), the need for data and the need for benchmarking.

a) All over the world the decision makers dealing with infrastructure need data, information and analysis to develop their relevant and valuable transport policies and programs for their country. The data reveals how people, goods and vehicles move through the system and it measures the impact of social, economic and environmental factors on the system's performance. The data is at the heart of critical decisions that affect the way of life in each country. Growing pressure to optimise the maintenance and operation of road networks underlines the need for intense benchmarking.

b) The quest for greater economic performance in the construction, maintenance, and operation of road networks is a high priority in most European countries, particularly as governments are increasingly confronted with growing budget constraints.

For countries with relatively mature networks, the main issues are road maintenance and road operation, due to the fact that:

• these networks are rather old and require much more maintenance;

• growth of traffic and increase of congestion necessitate the constant optimisation of the networks' efficiency;

• social requirements and users' expectations regarding safety and quality of service are constantly rising.

For the political authorities, the National road Authorities (NRAs) are under increasing pressure to:

• justify the budgets required;

• strike a balance between high levels of service and the budgets available;

• optimise expenditure, while committing to increases in productivity.

1.1. Benchmarking

Any benchmarking between networks concerns complex topics. In order to be relevant, it has to be conducted thoroughly and to a relatively deep level in order to:

• take into account the distinctive profile of each operated network;

• cover the real-world experience implemented at operational level;

• guarantee the homogeneity and exhaustiveness of scopes for external and internal costs related to maintenance and operation;

• consider that accounting rules and practices can differ significantly from one network to another. To optimise road network maintenance and operation, the participating NRAs sought to:

• obtain references in order to betterjustiiy budget allowances;

• ascertain maintainable levels of service and prioritise rules within a given budget;

• obtain references in order to define performance targets;

• improve performance levels by sharing best practices, especially regarding:

- the best split between in-house work and outsourcing;

- better value for money for outsourced work through appropriate public procurement policies;

- better value for money for in-house work through modern management and supervision methods.

1.2. Scope of the study

The following tasks were considered:

• road operation (patrolling, rescue/emergency actions, temporary marking out for road works);

• traffic management and information to road users;

• winter service;

• routine maintenance of roadways and structures (tunnels, bridges, and walls);

• maintenance of equipment (road markings, road signs and traffic lights, road lighting and ITS devices, drainage appliances etc.) and of roadside fittings (service areas, rest areas, shoulders etc.) as well as vegetation maintenance;

• large repairs, preventive or periodic maintenance, and rehabilitation of roadways and structures;

• improvements (regarding safety, environment, and services).

1.3. Methodology

This benchmark study included two main modules: A A macroscopic or macro module (top-down approach), which sought to:

• compare the overall costs of operation and maintenance in the participating NRAs for each considered network as a whole, including (depending on data availability) a breakdown of charges per large task blocks (e.g. routine maintenance, routine operation, winter service, traffic management, large repairs, and improvement works);

• explain some of the differences by comparing the distinctive profiles of the networks (by applying the same pertinent segmentation for each network and analysing cost sensitivity to network profiles) and the overall levels of service provided.

B A microscopic or micro module (bottom-up approach), which sought to:

• compare actual performance levels on a limited range of small-scale subsets in some of the countries;

• identify the best field practices in road maintenance and operation on the basis of the same observations.

For each country this module was based on:

• a special 'roads selection', which means an arbitrary selection of road subsets (either a choice of specific itineraries, or the networks administered by a choice of field units, or a choice of contractor-managed local networks);

• a pertinent segmentation of each country's selection based on network profiles in order to compare comparable entities.

Both modules complemented each other: through a refined comparison of practices, the micro module provided a clarification and explanation of the differences revealed at macro level. The macro module provided a comprehensive and structured reference framework (ground rules and lessons learnt, self-evident facts and proven statements) which could help each NRA to draw up its own strategy or policy and possibly facilitate budget negotiations.

1.4. Referenceyear

Although otherwise specified for some exceptions, all statistics and accounting data to be collected and processed related to the fiscal year 2007 only. 'Only some items, whose costs fluctuated widely, required an average value over the last five years (2003-2007). This value was then calculated and used as the value for 2007.

2. Macro module

2.1. Main steps

The main steps involved in this study were:

i) Data collection

• network characteristics (length, cross-sections, bridges, tunnels, ramps, climate zone);

• network condition (pavements and structures);

• network use (traffic, proportion of HGVs, possible indicators of level of service);

• expenses and costs for maintenance and operation (where necessary, converted into €) and their breakdown by task block.

ii) Calculation of normative expenditure ratios, globally and by task block

• per network kilometer

• per 2x2 lane-equivalent kilometer (4Leqkm) Dno better weight was found;

• per weighted driven kilometer (WDKm), i.e. 1 truck (over 3.5 metric tons) = 2.5 light vehicles; no better weight was available;

• in addition to these ratios, others could be calculated if relevant

iii) Comparison and discussion of explaining factors for the differences between countries and networks

2.2. The networks in the macro survey

The networks of the following countries or parts thereof were included in the survey: Austria (AT), Belgium-Flanders (FL), Denmark (DK), England (UK), France (FR), Hungary (HU), Ireland (IE), Italy (IT), the Netherlands (NL), Portugal (PT), Spain (ES), Sweden (SE), and Switzerland (CH). These thirteen countries defined all or part of their trunk road networks for this survey.

The survey includes nearly 100,000 route km of trunk roads, with an average AADT of over 25,000 vehicles and an average proportion of 13% HGV. Almost half of the survey network is situated in two countries: Spain (ES) and Italy (IT).

18000 16000 14000 12000 10000 8000 6000 4000 2000 0

n_ —n .1

r 1,40

- 1,20 .O

- 1,00 ro

- 0,80 01 u

- 0,60 at

- 0,40 ro

- 0,20 - 0,00 U" LU

□ single

Dual equivalent length (4Leq)

Figure 1 - Network Characteristics

The ratios between the network lengths in terms of route km and dual 41eqkm reflect the differences in network configuration. The ratio is high (above 0.9) forthe survey networks of FL, UK, AT, NL, CH, and PT, indicating that these survey networks predominantly contain roads with 4 or more lanes (i.e. 2x2 or wider). The ratio is low (up to 0.6) for HU, IE, and IT, indicating that these survey networks predominantly consist of two lane roads.

2.3. Use ofthe networks

The highest intensities of network use in terms of average AADT are found in FL, NL, UK, AT, and CH (35,000 to 65,000 vehicles per day), while lowest network use intensities are found in IT and SE (below 10,000 vehicles per day), followed by DK, ES, HU, IE, and PT (10,000 to 15,000 vehicles per day); FR (22,000) is close to the average (26,000).

When traffic intensities are expressed in weighted vehicle km (on the standard basis of 1 HGV = 2.5 light vehicles), the difference in the level of use between networks is even clearer: traffic on the survey network in FL, NL, UK, CH, and AT is on average significantly heavier than in the other counties included in this survey.

Interchanges, parallel roads, ramps etc. add another 18% to the network in the case of AT, 16% in UK and 6-10% in most other countries. This has, of course, a direct impact on operating expenses.

2.4. Complexity ofthe networks

There are significant differences in terms of the complexity of the survey networks. The most obvious difference is in the existence of bridges and tunnels on the network. In the case of AT and CH, bridges and tunnels make up 17% and 27% respectively of the network length, whilst in HU and IE the share is only 1%.

□ bridges (%)

I tunnels (%)

□ add length ramps (%)

Figure 2 - Network complexity

2.5. Road maintenance and operations expenses by task block Table 1 - Expenses by task blocks per 41eqkm, in €1,000

Task block AT CH DK ES FL FR HU IE IT NL PT SE UK

Traffic management 4 12 3 - 6 4 5 0 1 36 4 3 1

Routine operation 36 46 5 7 7 * 18 2 21 34 14 3 16

Winter service 17 10 12 3 4 3 11 3 3 7 0 12 3

Routine maintenance of roadways, structures, and roadside fittings 21 30 27 6 35 36 18 8 9 40 11 5 38

Maintenance of road signs and marking 9 3 3 3 19 * 2 5 3 9 3 1 1

Maintenance of restraints and safety equipment 2 11 1 1 3 * 2 1 2 5 1 1 1

Preventive maintenance 1 17 24 38 18 21 C 27 120 ■7 22 33

and rehabilitation 151 ZUi O !

Grand Total 239 319 67 43 112 61 77 25 67 251 39 48 94

*: included in routine maintenance

2.6. Conclusions from the macro module

The following conclusions can be drawn from the macro module of the BEXPRAC survey:

• It was difficult to collect information on road maintenance and operation expenses in a way that allowed for comparisons between countries. Despite the application of strict definitions of expenses and road maintenance and operation tasks, the differences in the data collected prohibit clear conclusions on efficiency levels. Nevertheless, the survey gives some indications of the reasons for differences between the countries participating in the survey.

• Expenses for road maintenance and operation of the trunk road network differ considerably between the 13 countries; the same is true when differences in network configuration are taken into account. As countries with a high level of motorway on the survey network (AT, CH, FL, NL, and UK) show highest expense levels per 41eqkm, maintenance and operation expenses may increase more than proportionally with the road width.

• In some cases (in FL, NL, UK, and, to a lesser extent in AT and CH) high traffic levels may contribute to the level of expenses. In most other countries, the level of expenses shows little or no relation to traffic, indicating that expenses tend to be more related to the availability of the network rather than to traffic.

The difference in overall expenses is particularly due to differences in expenses for preventive maintenance and rehabilitation and routine operations. Countries with high overall expenses generally show high expense levels for these two task blocks, while countries with low overall expenses show low expense levels for these task blocks.

Expenses for traffic management, winter maintenance, maintenance of signs and markings, and maintenance of safety devices are generally low and at comparable levels in the 13 countries. At the overall level of all task block expenses, the differences can (partly) be attributed to:

• Differences in the network configuration;

• The difference in traffic levels on the network (highest in AT, CH, FL, NL and UK, low in most other countries)

• differences in the complexity of the network, reflected by the percentage of structures such as tunnels and bridges on the network (many in AT, CH; few in HU, IE, SE);

• the complexity of the network, reflected by the high number of interchanges in some countries (AT, UK) and the low number of interchanges in others (IE, IT, SE);

• a need for maintenance of aging bridges and tunnels (in NL);

• the service level provided to users, in particular in CH (high level) and IE, PT (low level);

• the difference in the cost of living from country to country, with above-average price levels in AT, CH, and NL and a lower-than-average price level in HU.

3. Macro module

3.1. Main steps

The main steps involved in this study were:

• to compare task blocks in each of the considered cases;

• to collect data through questionnaires and clarify questions in meetings with the field managers in particular regarding:

> network characteristics of the subsets under review

> available elements on the levels of service;

> available data necessary to compute maintenance and operation charges of the subset

> complementary information on organisation and practices (performance targets, asset management systems, organisation, out-contracting etc.);

• to calculate ratios and to perform a comparative analysis across the selected subsets and across the different countries;

• to outline good practices in maintenance and operation as highlighted by the countries.

3.2. The roads in the micro survey

The seven cases chosen relate to different types of roads, or cross-sections, ranging from a heavily used urban road (6 lanes or more) to a quiet two-lane rural road.

The study covers 36 road sections, distributed over the seven cases. With the exception of cases 2 and 7 (three sections each), the cases contain four or more road sections, distributed according to the following table.

Table 2 - The cases chosen for the micro module

Case Site Lanes ADT Main- AT CH DK ES FL FR HU IE IT NL PT SE UK ALL

1 U 6 >60.000 8

2 R 4 >30.000 Night 3

3 R 4 >30.000 Day 5

4 R 4 <30.000 6

5 M 4 All 4

6 R 2 >7.000 7

7 R 2 <7.000 3

3 2 - 6 3 3 4 - 3 3 - 4 5 36

■ Preventive maintenance and rehabilitation

■Maintenance of road signs, markings, and safety equipment

n Routine maintenance of roadways, structures, and

roadside fittings n Winter service

□ Routine operations and traffic management

case 1 case 2 case 3 case 4 case 5 case 6 case 7

Figure 3 - Average expenses per 4-lane equivalent km in selected cases (in € thousand)

€/4lekmperweig hted AADT (x1,000)

S ■ I " H

■ Preventive maintenance and rehabilitation

■ Maintenance of road signs, markings, and safety equipment

n Routine maintenance of roadways, structures, and

roadside fittings n Winter service

n Routine operations and traffic management

case 1 case 2 case 3 case 4 case 5 case 6 case 7

Figure 4 - Average expenses per 41eqkm corrected by weighted traffic intensity in selected cases (in euro and 1,000 weighted vehicles)

3.1. Conclusions from the micro-module

The following conclusions can be drawn from the micro module:

• Expenses for a busy urban road with 6 lanes (or more) are substantially higher per kilometre than those for a 2-lane or 4-lane road, even if the difference in the number of lanes is taken into account. Expenses for a quiet 2-lane road, again corrected for the number of lanes, are lower per kilometre. This indicates that the expenses increase more than proportionally with the number of lanes.

• Expense levels for a 4-lane road do not appear to be affected by the level of traffic. For some countries, a comparison of the cases shows that the roads with night-time maintenance have higher expense levels than those with day-time maintenance; this difference does not appear at case level because of the selected sections. Similarly, at country level, mountain roads show higher expense levels than roads in flat terrain, whereas this difference does not appear at case level.

• The breakdown of annual expenses for road M&O differs between the road types. Expenses for routine operation and traffic management clearly increase with traffic levels; expenses for preventive maintenance and rehabilitation clearly increase with the complexity of the road, in particular with the percentage of tunnels and bridges. The latter types of expenses are, in all cases, the largest component of the total expenses with the exception of mountain roads.

• Despite the higher expense levels per network kilometre, complex and busy roads are clearly more efficient in terms of cost per driven vehicle km. The higher expenses per network km can be amply justified by the economic benefits to the users.

• It appears difficult to relate differences in expense levels between countries to differences in the levels of service provided. While such differences appeared relevant to expense levels for traffic management & operation (coverage of network by traffic management centres, type of information provided, service level in incident management, frequency of patrols, inspections etc.), for other task blocks, such relations between level of service and expenses appear less pronounced.

• It is difficult to assess the impact of differences in the organisation of maintenance and operation tasks on expense levels. As most countries have outsourced most of the work, differences in such practices may influence cost levels less than anticipated when setting up the benchmark.

• The differences in definitions and accounting systems maintained by NRAs appear difficult to overcome. This affects the comparisons made between countries. A more uniform way of recording data across countries would increase the insight provided by future benchmark studies.

4. Overall conclusions

BEXPRAC was the first ever benchmark of road maintenance and operation costs undertaken at European level. Many at the time felt that it was impossible to compare costs for the networks and listed a number of reasons to underline their point of view.

Nevertheless, it can now be said that despite all the difficulties encountered, the BEXPRAC study has met nearly all of its objectives which were:

1 to obtain references in order to betterjustify budget allowances;

2 to ascertain maintainable levels of service and prioritise rules within a given budget;

3 to obtain references in order to define performance targets;

4 to improve performance levels by sharing best practices.

Even though most of the BEXPRAC objectives have been met, some questions could not be answered completely due to the methodology used and insurmountable differences in task definitions, practices, and accounting methods in the participating countries.

The collection of data in the countries and their synthesis constituted the backbone of the BEXPRAC work. The results are now available to all CEDR members in the form of a wealth of figures and procedures from which each country can choose.

The conclusion of the BEXPRAC study constitutes a first step in the benchmarking process at European level. To ensure that the work done and the results obtained are not forgotten in the near future and to ensure that a return on investment is guaranteed, the members of WG BEXPRAC analysed the best way to bring BEXPRAC forward. They analysed three different scenarios and concluded that the best solution would be to integrate the results and lessons learnt during BEXPRAC into the more general framework of CEDR's strategic plan for the years 2009-2013. This ensures that the definition of tasks and the system of allocating expenses to relevant stretches of roads are performed in such a way that they remain easily comparable.

To conclude, BEXPRAC collected data from the participating NRAs and synthesised this data in such a way as to make M&O expenses comparable. However, the output data can never be more precise than the input data. All figures mentioned in this report must therefore be considered with caution, as comparisons may not always be based on the same assumptions. This is the main reason why the BEXPRAC members recommend the harmonisation of the definition of tasks and accounting systems before any further efforts are put into a second BEXPRAC study.

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the Directors of Roads for having initiated this first-ever comparative study of maintenance and operation expenditure and practices. It was a great adventure for all participants, who overcame many obstacles on both the technical and the accounting side. Thanks to their commitment and enthusiasm, BEXPRAC proved that maintenance and operation expenditure is comparable.