Potholes are an infuriating and costly hazard faced by many Welsh motorists on a daily basis, but the problem has placed one Welsh technology company on the road to export success.
Swansea-based GPC Systems has signed an international distribution contract that will see its 3D modelling solution deployed on the famous Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a venue for NASCAR.
A five-year distribution agreement with American concrete and asphalt maintenance company, ART Concrete Solutions, will see the Welsh software-house’s 3D pothole technology utilised to identify and repair damage at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a venue for adrenaline fuelled stock car racing, where elite NASCAR drivers reach speeds of near 200 miles per hour on an oval track.
Anyone who has encountered a pothole at safe speeds on a Welsh road will understand potentially catastrophic consequences they’d present at race speeds. And, with over 131,000* potholes being filled in Wales last year, that’s likely to have been most of us.
The Welsh pothole software solution created by GPC Systems isn’t limited to the race track, it’s designed to be used across highway and road maintenance markets to identify and measure the depth of potholes, providing the potential to save local authorities and motorists tens of thousands in repairing needless damages to vehicles.
Commenting on the deal, John Miller CEO of GPC Systems, said: “It’s a thrilling prospect to have a product developed in Wales become an essential part of NASCAR races at one of the most well-known motorsport raceways in the United States. It’s equally exciting to know that our partnership with ART Concrete Solutions will see our system utilised on highways, forecourts and many other venues across North America, in addition to countries the world over who became the first adopters of the solution we created in Swansea.”
GPC’s successes in multiple industry sectors has also secured the company the support of the Welsh Government’s Accelerated Growth Programme (AGP), which supports high growth businesses in Wales.
This recent partnership between GPC System’s and ART Concrete Solutions will see the U.S. company become the exclusive distributor of the Welsh 3D pothole software for national infrastructure and construction clients.
Joshua Halford, Senior Vice President of Business Development at ART, said: “We decided to go with GPC because of the stability of their software, their knowledgeable team and their longstanding relationship with some of the bigger players in the industry. GPC was simply the best option by far.
“ART will use GPC’s software for accuracy of volumetric measurement in the process of concrete repair, broaden the level of employees who can accurately repair concrete and service infrastructure maintenance easily and efficiently like never before. This is the infrastructure repair of the future.”
Currently, the process of identifying and rectifying damaged stretches of Welsh roads relies on potholes being reported by motorists and highway authorities. In many cases, a time-consuming manual inspection must then be conducted to assess the required level of repair work before maintenance work can be scheduled and conducted.
GPC’s bespoke 3D imaging and modelling software is designed to fast-track that process by allowing inspectors to quickly take a photo of the pothole on a mobile device, at which point the innovative measurement software instantly analyses the width and depth of the hole and calculates the volume and type of materials needed for repair.
In April, the Department of Transport announced £201 million funding for the UK’s local road network and £50 million allocated to councils for pothole resilience and £23 million for trials of new technologies for pothole repair.
John Miller, commented: “It is our hope that further companies and local authorities here in the UK will share ART’s willingness to embrace the new technology available to them to save motorists, tax payers and authorities from needless expense caused by a problem that no longer has to exist in today’s modern world.”
In Wales, some forward thinking local authorities are already exploring innovative solutions to solve their infrastructure challenges. Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council is currently piloting GPC’s 3D camera technology as part of a competitive trial funded by the GovTech Catalyst project, which focuses on testing several different locally-sourced tech solutions to wider-county facing issues.
Richard Crook, Corporate Director, Regeneration and Community Services from Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, said: “Today, public sector services are facing increasing financial pressures to do more with reducing resources and projects like this present us with the opportunities to do so without impacting upon other services.
“As a forward-looking local authority, we are proud of our track record of participating in such research and demonstration projects. Through this GovTech Catalyst Project, we see significant opportunities to test the solutions being developed and to work alongside suppliers to identify the potential scalability and replicability of the solutions.
“Additionally, we are a partner in two European Commission Funded projects, PENTAGON and DRIvE, via the Horizon2020 Programme. The Council is keen to progress in this area and welcomes opportunities to further research and transform the way in which public services are delivered in the future.”