National Underground Asset Register: the contractor’s view

Photo of Esh Construction, working for Northumbrian Water Group, using the National Underground Asset Register
Esh Construction, working for Northumbrian Water Group, is among the first contractors to use the National Underground Asset Register

Greater clarity, quicker access and safer operations: that’s Esh Construction’s feedback on the National Underground Asset Register (NUAR).

Esh Construction is a North East-based civils contractor and housebuilder. Via its client, Northumbrian Water Group, Esh Construction was the initial contractor to trial the NUAR system.

NUAR was created by the Geospatial Commission to digitally map data on underground power cables and utility services across much of the UK. Clive Surman-Wells, innovation partnerships manager at Northumbrian Water Group, initiated the concept during the firm’s Innovation Festival in 2018. Esh Construction has worked with the water company to develop the technology since then.

Norman Barnett, framework director at Esh Construction, said: “NUAR will be a game changer for health and safety in the construction industry. All those that have been involved with it so far within Esh are in agreement. Being able to access this information around the clock, and to also capture uncharted service information, is a huge step forward. We are proud to be one of the first contractors nationally to have been involved with the development of NUAR, from conception, through the trials and now at the go-live stage.”

Health and safety benefits

Ash Dunn, health, safety, environment and quality adviser at Esh Construction, said: “The health and safety benefits are huge. The team on the ground can see more than they’ve ever been able to see regarding restrictions and hazards, and the clarity of the system beats anything available before it. When you can easily understand the hazards that are there, it eliminates one element of danger, which is immensely important within a construction environment and in line with our ‘Everyone Safely Home’ campaign.”

Dunn has been heavily involved in rolling out the system among the Esh Construction team. He says the change to NUAR’s instant access upon inputting coordinates is a monumental shift from cross-referencing and plotting out multiple maps in back-end administration prior to starting on site.

Esh Construction will gradually implement the system through the Runway 1 Repairs and Maintenance Framework with Northumbrian Water. It expects the rest of the business to adopt NUAR when it becomes available to all contractors.

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