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Heijmans & TMC cooperating in glowing lines project

A few weeks ago it was revealed that the so-called ‘Road of the Future’ (N329) in Oss (The Netherlands) has got its Glowing Lines back. After some months of product development, we, the innovation team, have taken a big step towards a fully-developed product.

In cooperation with Studio Roosegaarde, Heijmans has developed a vision, called Smart Highway, on leading the conservative world of road construction towards using new products. At the beginning of the year I was asked to help Heijmans with developing a range of innovative ideas into a real product. In order to speed up and empower the existing innovation team, people from other companies were attracted to support them in industrializing this process, and, more specifically, the product called Glowing Lines. I am proud of the faith Heijmans has in me. To me, it was a great chance to get to know the world of road construction.

As the concept of the Glowing Lines Project needs a large number of innovations in order to mature, we immediately chose a step-by-step approach. After launching the product, moist turned out to be the main spoilsport of the product design. A thorough problem analysis and, finally, an FMEA, led to a surprising amount of points for improvement of the design: all things that we could solve as a team. Next to that, we designed a production process in which a reel is the product bearer. Doing so, a product platform came into being. The platform is going to develop innovations and product varieties that are necessary to meet future customers’ needs and wishes.

Road construction has an approach to work that can be compared with that of the construction of buildings. When it comes to innovation, the pilot usually becomes the final product. This requires craftmanship and organization skills. Furthermore, ‘the road’ is a really unkind product environment in which varying dynamic loads and changeable weather conditions ‘attack’ the product. This is the second reason as to why we chose, in an early stage, for a practice test the like of which we have now delivered in Oss. Without learning from the experience offered by these guided practice tests, one cannot arrive at a product certificate issued by, for example, Rijkswaterstaat.

For the realization of the Smart Highway ideas, Heijmans has chosen a specific innovation team consisting of three disciplines: product development, realization and marketing. I am responsible for the product development team. Herewith we ensure a fast interaction between the client’s needs and wishes on the one hand, and the highway mechanic on the other hand: an interaction that enables taking big and fast steps in product development. To me, this adds value. At other organizations, this is often less well-organized.

Traditionally, knowledge of products at Heijmans was always related to asphalt. In the Smart Highway project new areas of knowledge, populated with cooperate partners, are necessary, such as glow-in-the-dark materials, sensors, interactive control devices et cetera. Therefore, Heijmans’ Smart Highway is also a platform for the cooperation with innovative parties that help Heijmans thinking of an application in road construction. A nice example is another Smart Highway project, the van Gogh/Roosegaarde cycle path.

All in all, it is a very challenging assignment with an enthusiastic team. Both the team and the confidence the management has in me make it very rewarding to work for Heijmans.

Bert Stohr

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