Behind the Industry Challenge: What is Muck & Mess, where did the challenge begin, and how could you get involved?

Behind the Industry Challenge: What is Muck & Mess, where did the challenge begin, and how could you get involved?

Gas networks, as well as other utilities, are often required to carry out repair and maintenance works on their assets, which can include street works. Although a lot of improvements have been made in the preparation of these works and how they are carried out, one area that still remains a concern is ‘Muck & Mess’. 

What exactly is Muck & Mess?

‘Muck & Mess’ refers to the overall mess created during and left after works are carried out on a site. This includes but not limited to:

  • Damage to verges and pavements 
  • General disruption to local area 
  • The spread of mud 
  • Improper reinstatement of the site

Muck & Mess can cause significant disruption to residents and prolong the length of time that works take. At bigger sites, the overall mess left behind can be significant. With a view to mitigating these challenges, networks need to employ proactive, effective and innovative processes and solutions. 

What has been done so far to tackle this challenge?

The EIC ran a series of five Innovation Labs with three of their gas network partners- Northern Gas Networks, SGN and Wales & West Utilities. These labs highlighted the main challenges presented by Muck & Mess and identified both mutual and individual problem areas. 

Innovation Labs are one of the EIC’s support services that assist their network partners to address the root cause of problems they are facing. Subject matter experts are invited to attend these sessions, where they have an opportunity to share their technical knowledge and experience. 

Some of the mutual themes and issues identified by the networks were:

  • The need to encourage better communication between networks and reinstatement companies when dealing with the reinstatement of excavations, in order to ensure consistency in the quality of craftmanship and the materials used.
  • The need for a more collaborative approach with the Local Authorities and Highways Agencies.
  • The need to attempt to reduce the overall weight of vehicles transporting kit between sites.

The EIC also launched a Call for Innovation on behalf of its partners, based on discussions that occurred during one of the Innovation Labs, surrounding ‘protecting customers from open excavations.’

Following additional research carried out by the EIC, six innovation proposals were shared with network partners. One of these, Ground Protection Boards, offers two benefits – it improves site tidiness and also reduces the risk of surface damage through collection of spoil on site. First demonstrated by Wales & West Utilities, this solution has now been successfully taken into business as usual by NGN.

The Innovation Labs also led to the identification of a number of market-ready solutions. Two such devices were shared and are now being used to keep siteworks tidy around the country. Wales & West Utilities have adopted MBW’s Soil Pick™ jet wash attachment, and NGN have adopted the WORX Hydroshot – both lightweight, portable solutions.

How could you help the industry tackle the challenges faced by Muck & Mess?

In addition to the themes highlighted above, a wider industry challenge was discovered: the withdrawal of The Environmental Agency (EA) Regulatory Position Statement (RPS) 211 and the effects this will have on businesses that manage excavated waste created by unplanned utility installations and repair works. 

To identify innovative solutions to the challenges found, the EIC has launched an Industry Challenge entitled ‘Muck & Messout to their Innovation Community. The challenge seeks to find innovative solutions that will allow the industry to adapt to this challenge with minimal operational disruption, whilst continuing to achieve their environmental commitments. 

Find out more about the Industry Challenge, and how your innovation could help the industry tackle Muck & Mess, and submit your proposal here.

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Achieving net zero targets is one of the biggest challenges facing the energy and utilities industry, but by innovating together we can drive change and deliver a decarbonised future. Our industry partners are always looking for innovative new solutions to the challenges they face, including net zero, which is why we provide a platform where innovators like you can respond to the latest innovation opportunities and challenges, and submit your innovative ideas. Our expert team have an extensive knowledge base, allowing us to consistently help our partners to address challenges, and to support our innovation community. This enables innovators and industry to come together and build a strong innovation culture and streamline innovation processes.

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