Potholes are a long-standing problem on British roads, accounting for countless damages to vehicles and complaints to local authorities. Part of the issue comes from the lack of resources and funding available to quickly and effectively fill potholes.
However, a new machine developed by JCB – dubbed the PotholePro – is set to accelerate repair rates by up to 700% in an effort to restore Britain’s roads.
The PotholePro is able to do the job that usually requires three machines, drastically reducing emissions and cost. With a price tag of £165,000 or £600 per week to rent, it offers a much more affordable option for local authorities and road operators and opens up more repair opportunities.
JCB says that this machine is the most efficient of its type, with development leader and JCB chairman, Lord Bamford, stating that: ‘JCB’s solution is simple and cost-effective and fixes potholes permanently first time. Once the machine has done its job, all the contractor needs to do is just add tar.’
The machine has already been in use in Stoke-on-Trent, and the city council has seen positive results. Initial testing revealed that the machine could complete 51 road repair jobs in just 20 days, a task that would typically have taken up to six operatives 63 days to complete.
Councillor Daniel Jellyman was pleased with the result, saying: ‘Potholes are a nuisance to motorists up and down the country and we’ve worked closely with JCB to come up with a solution to what is a national problem. In a time when every penny and pound counts for local authorities, we’re delighted to be at the forefront of developing and trialling new technologies and ways of working, especially ones which could save residents money.’
The PotholePro uses cutting edge technology to combine a 600mm-wide planer – designed to create a level cut and ensure long-lasting results – with a sweeper and cropping tool, eliminating the need for additional machinery. Tests have already indicated that the JCB PotholePro is capable of completing a pothole repair in less than eight minutes – the equivalent of fixing 700 potholes a month.
[Image Source: Shutterstock , Jan 21]
The problem with potholes
The development of the PotholePro comes off the back of a particularly bad year for pothole complaints, with reports to local authorities topping 210,000 in some areas during 2020, despite a decrease in general traffic due to lockdown.
In a study conducted by RAC and published in December 2020, 52% of surveyed drivers said that road conditions were worse than 12 months ago, while 38% stated that their biggest concern as a driver was the state of council-maintained roads. Between July and September 2020 alone, the RAC saw 1,900 call-outs for damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels, likely to have been caused by potholes.
The issue was recognised in the government Autumn 2020 Spending Review, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak vowing to invest £1.6 billion to fix potholes in Britain in an attempt to ‘level-up’ uneven roads.
However, in response to the Chancellor’s statement, chair of the AIA Rick Green said: ‘While these spending commitments are welcome in these challenging times, we are aware that the sums outlined will not be enough to plug the existing multi-billion-pound backlog in road maintenance funding and so our ageing network will continue to decline.’
He went on to suggest that ‘what’s needed going forward is an additional investment of £1.5 billion a year for 10 years to improve the experience of all road users, support recovery an deliver a much-needed boost to the economy.’
It is hoped that JCB’s PotholePro will relieve some of the issues faced by local councils in their endeavour to fund the upkeep of their roads. AA President Edmund King OBE reinforced the importance of road repairs in saying: ‘The toll of pothole damage on cars is already breath-taking. However, as more people take up cycling due to avoiding public transport in the pandemic and if e-scooters are legalised, then sorting out poor road surfaces is more important than ever.’
He finished by praising JCB and their efforts to overcome the issue with potholes: ‘JCB has taken the initiative to fix these problems, and we’re excited to see its new PotholePro take to the streets.’
Are the roads in your local area littered with potholes? Are councils doing enough to protect our vehicles from pothole damage?
Tell us in the comments.
Sounds a great development and cost saver; photograph very poor.
A photo of the new JCB machine would be useful
A quick Google comes up with all the pictures you want and some Youtube clips of one at work as well.
Yes agree photo is poor
In the Stroud area there are no end of “broken road services” with no logical priority given to the system . Small patches are applied to a hole, that fits “the presumed guideline”; only for an adjacent hole, which was not repaired, to become worse within a few months when with luck that might get repaired .. when clearly a larger patch on the first visit would have been more efficient and economic.
I live in York, North Yorkshire and the road I live in was due to be re-surfaced about thirty years ago by Rydale Council but unfortunately the council area was changed and York council took over. Needless to say it never did get a new surface and has been constantly in need of repair, when they come, due to potholes which at times are deep and dangerous to cyclists. It would be less costly once and for all to re-surface it as it looks like a patchwork quilt.
The main problem with the way pot holes are “fixed” at the moment is that the edges are not sealed so water gets in again and destroys the repair.
most repairs are done poorly and fail with in months and then need more attention but the same company gets the work , where is the incemtive for them to do it properly
That’s one part of the problem. Yes, the edge of the hole needs treating with a bitumastic sealer, failure to do so allows water to sit in the join when the road is wet and the suction effect of a passing vehicle’s tyre removes the aggregate that the hole was filled with. But the main problem is that you cannot create a satisfactory repair when the surrounding road structure is also starting to fail. It’s a bit like trying to repair a piece of rotten wood with a 1st class filler but without first removing all the rotten wood back to a solid structure. It simply won’t work for long before the filler falls out again!
Big improvement on the shovel bashing I’ve seen in my area, hasn’t moved on from the 1950s.
This will upset some road gangs. How often do you see four men staring into a hole, only one of which has a shovel?
Something doesn’t add up. 51 pothole repairs in 20 days is about 2.5 repairs per day, for a 8 hour day that’s about 2.5 hours per repair. The later blurb says 8 minutes per repair, then goes on to say this is equivalent to 700 repair per month (about 2.5 repairs per day). Why doesn’t PP challenge JCB or cannot you do maths?
51 repair jobs in 20 days, which usually takes up to 63 days. A pothole in 8 minutes. I think we can presume 1 repair job doesn’t equal 1 pothole.
At long last. There’s always been one for use on airfields, why not one for roads, before now? Let’s hope Councils take this up and use them.
For cyclists, a bad pothole can result in serious injury unless you manage to swerve round it.
Potholes are terrible and need urgent attention, however, isn’t it about time that there was a change of attitude to the entire road network? Some of our Trunk Roads have foundations that go back to the Victorian period. It will take many years and very much Tax Payers money, but governments of all persuasions have always taken highways for granted and then only done the smallest and cheapest repairs to keep them going. Any Civil Engineer will tell you that abusing these situations in this way means that the problem will never go away. What is needed is a complete re-think of just how highways can be always good on a rolling programme of repairs and replacements. What is needed by both National and Local government is planned maintenance that is properly funded. Pro-active economic thinking, rather than the re-active economics that is going on at present. Until they change their economic thinking from short to long term, then we will always have pot-holes! We will never be rid of them!!
The headline states “repair time cut by 700%” which is not the same as repair time accelerated by 700%!
If the repair time was cut by 100%, each would now be fixed instantly, which certainly is not the case, and there is no way to cut time by anything over 100%!
Good on them. However I remember seeing on some car program a similar (German?) behemoth which did a very similar job, very quickly – as I recall laser-scanning the damaged area, digging it out, selecting (making?) patch of tarmac, slapping it in, rolling it flat, all within minutes. However (again as I recall) it cost £1m+ and was therefore well out of reach of the average council (obviously German councils must be better heeled!), can’t remember if a rental option was available though. So how to JCB get to claim it’s their baby…?
A lot of useful tech never gets launched because it threatens the income of existing markets. Ceramic engines mean a car engine that never wears down, was blocked because it would mean no need to replace a car engine ever again.
The famous example of this is the old-style incandescent light bulb. Almost as soon as they were invented, it was possible to make them last pretty much forever. But they were made with deliberately fragile elements to sustain a market which otherwise would not have existed.
That’s right Alan, and I fear that although EV has a respectable green look to it, they are building the vehicles to not last.
As our globalist government wants all private cars bar authority own electric cars off the roads by 2050 I can’t see increased road replacement/repairs happening in the future.
with the money the motorist pay every year in road tax and Vat you should be able to fix every pot hole in the uk no problem
Road tax has not been for repairing the roads for decades its just another stealth tax that goes into the pockets of parliament!
Wont make a blind bit of difference until your average uk worker stops taking their 2 hour fag and mag breaks!
In fact I can see with these machines the mag and fag breaks increasinbg to 3-4 hours!