Articles & Case Studies

Two simple letters get top marks for drain management

Posted: Friday 27th January 2017

Drainage and asset maintenance specialist Lanes Group has transformed the way drains are managed in 23 schools in Scotland - with a simple spray of paint.

Its engineers have marked foul drain manholes with a red F and the surface water drain manholes with a blue S. The colour-coding system has made it much easier to identify the location of any problems, like drain blockages.

SPIE`s facilities technicians are more confident that they can look after the drains, and the schools are more confident they will not fail. This is crucial as drainage failure is one of the main causes of temporary school closures.

Drainage engineers at Lanes Group's Glasgow depot worked with facilities management specialists SPIE to introduce the innovation in 23 schools - 17 in South Lanarkshire and six in Dunbartonshire.

SPIE Operations Manager Roy McGlynn said: "It's an excellent idea, and a great solution for us, and for the schools. It's added a significant amount of value to our service. It's also given our schools greater assurance that SPIE is able to react more quickly and smartly to prevent a major drainage problem."

Lanes Glasgow Area Development Manager Chris Fairbairn said: "Marking up manholes in this way is something that's been done with public utility assets, but not with schools before.

"It's a simple idea but can make a big difference. Before, the schools' on-site facilities technicians often had to rely on guesswork to lift the right manhole and find a problem.

"Now the drains are clearly marked up and colour-coded. We've also supplied accurate maps of the drainage system. So, the technicians can quickly identify the source of the problem, and assess whether they can deal with it, or whether they need specialist help."

SPIE called in Lanes Group because it wanted to review the condition of drainage networks at all the schools. It was quickly established that full CCTV drainage surveys at all the sites would be too expensive.

Therefore, it was agreed that the Lanes team would carry out less costly and faster visual asset condition surveys to establish the flow directions, connectivity and general condition of the drainage system at each school.

SPIE approved a small additional budget to include the manhole painting. The Lanes engineers have also marked all fire hydrants on the drainage map, and jetted them clean. This has improved access for firefighters, and made the safety-critical assets quicker and easier to maintain.

An on-going preventative planned maintenance programme was the final element of a comprehensive drainage management plan for all 23 schools.

Roy McGlynn said: "We're already seeing the benefits. Over time, I believe this approach will reduce drainage costs for both SPIE and for the schools, and a little spray of paint and a visual check of all manholes during Lanes visits has been a big part of it."

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