Roadscanners wants to guarantee a smooth ride
This Finnish company uses advanced technologies to detect road sections that are approaching the end of their lifespan. Thanks to its long-standing expertise, the firm recently won an international award.
Infrastructure management is perhaps not known as an industry bursting with innovation. But look a little deeper, and also in this field you’ll find firms that are breaking new ground with forward-looking solutions.
Roadscanners is clearly one of these firms. Last month, Good News from Finland reported that the company’s PEHKO 2012–2025 project received a Global Road Achievement Award from the International Road Federation (IRF) in Las Vegas. The winning project uses advanced asset management methods and policies that help to increase the lifetime of road pavement and cut down on annual paving costs.
The prestigious award, however, is just the most recent milestone in over two decades of Roadscanners fine-tuning its expertise in traffic infrastructure asset management. The firm’s guiding principle is to identify problems early, before they become visible.
Like brushing teeth
Roadscanners focuses on early detection of issues for a simple reason: fixing problems is many times cheaper if they are identified early, before the surface condition of a road becomes poor and requires bigger renovations. Moreover, if roads are regularly maintained, driving on them is safer and consumes less fuel.
This approach helps Roadscanners to stand out from other firms working in infrastructure management, says Timo Saarenketo, CEO and president of the company: “Our view is that if you’re fixing a pavement that has visible cracks, you are already late.”
Saarenketo says the company specifically aims to identify situations where the pavement would start to crack in the next couple of years. If you intervene at this point, it can save maintenance costs by up to 60 per cent and the new overlay will also be more durable.
“It’s a bit like brushing your teeth: if you do it regularly it’s a cheap way to prevent getting holes. But if you let the situation get bad, fixing it becomes much more expensive,” he says.
In addition to roads, the company’s tools and services enable the monitoring of the condition of railroads, bridges and airports.
Over 20 years in the business
Founded in 1998 and based in Rovaniemi, Roadscanners has established itself as a truly global actor in the field of infrastructure management: about 50 per cent of the company’s turnover comes from exports, and it has clients in 60 countries across all continents. (This includes Antarctica; for that market, the firm has developed tools that detect crevasses when driving on glacier.)
Two decades is a long time in any industry, but Saarenketo says that compared to many other fields road building and management has evolved surprisingly little. However, the pace of change is certain to accelerate, driven by the rise of smart vehicles and growing ecological awareness.
“During the next 10 to 15 years, we’re going to see massive changes in how roads are used, and we need to build new infrastructure that reflects this,” he says. “In addition to maintaining the existing roads, it’s crucial to identify new areas that we need to invest in.”
The company is looking specifically at AI and machine learning to prepare for its own future. Saarenketo emphasises that investing in R&D and maintaining high-quality products is something the company very much believes in.
“It’s like some musicians who stick to their own thing year after year, and never chase the latest trends or compromise their art’s quality,” he says. “I like to think that we have a similar way of doing things.”