Costain’s M6 team uses data to cut plant emissions

The M6 project in action: Costain team reduced plant emissions
The M6 project in action (Image courtesy of Machine Max)

A Costain-led team that delivered the M6 Junction 21a to 26 smart motorway project reduced CO2 emissions by taking a data-drive approach to reducing plant idling time.

A collaboration between Costain, WSP, Flannery Plant Hire and civil and ground engineering specialist Forkers delivered the Smart Motorway Programme (SMP) Alliance’s M6 project that stretches for 16km. Costain is one of three contractors awarded a position on the SMP by National Highways three years ago.

On similar projects, the absence of data quality and efficient analysis has led to significant idle times, resulting in substantial fuel wastage and increased emissions. To maximise the efficiency of machinery during the construction phase, the SMP Alliance called on equipment data and telematics specialist MachineMax. The latter’s platform focuses on key metrics – including idle time, emissions, location, and fuel use – and provides real-time data on equipment status, enabling immediate and actionable insights that lead to significant fuel savings and reduced emissions.

GPS integration enabled tracking of routes, distances, and stops, facilitating better operational planning. On the M6 project, MachineMax used 20 sensors to help gather the data.

Between the start of 2022 and July 2023, the data helped reduce idling from 56% to 19%. Furthermore, during the pilot phase, SMP Alliance managed to decrease fuel usage by 3,500 litres per month, saving 9,236kg of CO2 emissions.

Better data, more effective training

Eamonn Slevin, operations director for the SMP Alliance, said: “The use of fuel on our construction sites is the single largest contributory factor to carbon emissions during assembly. On the M6, by using MachineMax’s data solution, we were provided with better quality data, which has allowed targeted behavioural training. [As a result] plant idling has been reduced from 50% of operating time to 18%. The benefits of this are a reduction in carbon emissions, reduced impact on air quality and longevity of plant.”

Tom Grahamslaw, head of connected site for the SMP Alliance, added: “The MachineMax solution has created the insights we now need to understand and effectively manage plant across our projects, enabling us to drive a change in behaviours and deliver a step change in environmental performance.”

Amy Law, head of marketing & sales at MachineMax, said: “Working with Costain, Flannery, Forkers and WSP has enabled us to showcase the importance of timely, accurate data for project emission reductions.”

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