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What’s New In Modular Road Plate Applications?

By integrating the most advanced products and the latest generation of safety solutions within a work zone, it is now possible to reduce the cost of deployment whilst exceeding safety standards.

What’s New In Modular Road Plate Applications?

Get covered, get compliant – and save time and money in the process.

By integrating the most advanced products and the latest generation of safety solutions within a work zone, it is now possible to reduce the cost of deployment whilst exceeding safety standards.

Safety is guaranteed – and dollars are added to your bottom line.  

Every single day, millions of us will drive or walk over – or maybe around – the heavy, noisy steel plate covers that have appeared on our roads and sidewalks for decades. Entrenched in our nation’s daily lives, they have created an unwelcome soundtrack to any busy workzone.

It’s an all too familiar scene – and one that we see reported by our newscasters regularly.  Roadway works appear overnight, covered by heavy steel plates.  With ceaseless clattering across our cities - day and night – there is a drive within urban areas to reduce the noise pollution from construction and streetworks.

This issue is being highlighted by our Departments of Transport as the noise pollution associated with rocking steel plates is creeping higher up the list of complaints from members of the public.

Balancing the reputation of New York, for example, as the city that never sleeps, with the needs of the people who live and work in the city has become a challenge recognised across the nation.

NYC’s Environmental Protection Noise Code provides clear guidelines on minimising unsociable noise, and mandates that “all construction be conducted in accordance with noise mitigation plans that address the specific location, type of work, and timing of a project.” Most Australian cities will have similar wording within their work practice codes or permits.

The Code also sets standards for noise levels created by handling containers and construction material on public streets, and ways to lessen the noise from each type of construction equipment.

It also states that “contractors must develop a noise mitigation plan prior to the start of work and that every construction site must have a noise mitigation plan on site.”

To add insult to injury – or rather, injury to insult, the culprits of these noise complaints frequently underperform when deployed in the field.

Inconvenient for local residents due to increased noise levels, the bigger safety concern is for drivers taken by surprise by the steel plate – and not familiar with the roadway.  When these large plates protrude into the lane of travel, there is a risk of piercing to the tire walls.  Prone to shifting - as well as contributing to slips, trips and falls - the plates are difficult for a motorist to see at a distance - and particularly when visibility is poor due to bad weather. 

Of course - these issues are further exacerbated in wet conditions when drivers may need to brake suddenly.

LowPro 23/05 Plate


Health and safety standards are increasingly rigorous, and with continuously evolving legislation there is a spotlight on liability and compliance.

The requirement to improve travelling and working conditions - and the safety of our streets - is becoming increasingly critical, with clear performance measures introduced by our States’ Departments of Transport, and with direct accountability for contractors.

Furthermore, in an increasingly litigious society, liabilities and penalties need to be managed – proactively.  

Slips, trips and falls - and the resulting liabilities and litigation costs - can erode any profit that a project may have generated and can even shut a business down completely.

With budgets stretched and profits squeezed, it is becoming increasingly important that risk is mitigated wherever possible.

In Australia and New Zealand, the use of steel plates to cover over utility trenches is a common practice and there are standards in place for their use; the plates must be secured to the roadway, there must be an anti-skid material on the surface, safety codes for operating machinery must be adhered to and the plate edges must be ramped with either cold patch or other materials so that the edges are chamfered to the existing roadway.

Regrettably, these suggested practices are not always upheld when using steel plates over roadwork trenches.  Even when all these recommendations are upheld, however, significant concerns still remain.  

The latest developments in modular road plates have come about as a direct result of the challenges associated with steel plates.  The new solutions completely eliminate the shortcomings of their heavy metal counterparts by combining composite materials with intelligent design – plus, importantly, these new solutions create significant dollar savings.

Sleepless nights and disrupted days due to noise pollution caused by steel plates can now be a thing of the past.  

The evolution of quieter, safer workzones – with real cost savings

You can see these new products deployed every day within safety and life critical applications – such as utilities, construction, industrial, highway works and events – all around the world.  They are the products that quietly and discreetly keep us all safe – but we so rarely notice them.  

The evolution of composite products has come about primarily in response to the need to improve equipment utilization and reduce costs – whilst also guaranteeing site safety and improving the image of urban workzones.

For example, when using steel plates, the need for heavy lifting equipment - plus transportation, security and regular maintenance costs – will all erode profits.  

Steel plates frequently attract negative feedback from the public in terms of noise pollution and trip hazards – as well as the inconvenience of sidewalk and lane closures - all presenting a significant risk in terms of liability.

The solution to these costly challenges comes in the form of a progressive new range of products – solutions with the strength of steel, in a light, safe and user-friendly package.  One such range, developed by Oxford Plastic Systems Ltd.


Downtime is minimized

Quick and easy to deploy, composite road plates and trench covers minimize downtime as no heavy lifting equipment is required; a simple two-man lift makes light of what was once a major task.  

Composite plates are, on average, one third the weight of a steel alternative and can be installed in minutes by two people – when not in use they can be stowed easily in a standard truck.

Designed with pedestrian safety in mind, composite covers feature a slip-resistant surface and chamfered edges.  

With no need to close sidewalks, the covers are ideal for urban areas as the composite material and soft leading edge eliminate any noise pollution.  

That means your liability is minimized in terms of both noise pollution as well as slips, trips and falls.


Maintenance costs are reduced - permanently

Maintenance costs are reduced; the permanent anti-slip surface and hi-vis yellow composite material mean that these is no ongoing maintenance usually associated with the re-instatement of anti-slip surfaces. 

Time consuming and costly paint jobs are a thing of the past.

Profits are protected

The delivery and collection costs of steel plates are no longer a problem as composite products attract significantly reduced transportation costs.  

Site security issues are eliminated, as the new generation of covers have zero scrap value - another way to protect profits.

As well as the legacy issues with steel plates, lighter, wooden panels are not always robust enough for the most challenging applications.  Furthermore, contractors typically incur costs and delays when building wooden barriers.  In the past, a trench would be dug, covered with plywood and then wooden sides would be built on site to create a single-use barrier.  This took time, would often lead to delays in the work schedule, and incurred a cost to create the barrier.  Using the composite solution, it can be laid down - and the contractor can walk away - knowing that the site is safe and that the bottom line has been improved.

These composite covers from Oxford Plastics – deployed worldwide for the past decade – are now making street works easier and safer for contractors in Australia and New Zealand, and keeping the public moving.


How do they work?

These modular road plates and anti-slip crossing ramps can be placed on highways to cover trenches, reduce traffic delays and ensure safe passage for vehicles and pedestrians.  They are known for being flexible, versatile and easy to deploy.

Designed for roads and sidewalks, they are individual units that link together for the ultimate in flexibility.

The integral flexible edge has been engineered using a PVC compound to minimize road noise – and can also compensate for cambers in the road.

The drop pin system prevents lateral movement and improves stability.

Noise complaints, and associated costs and fines, are eliminated – the composite material and soft leading edge make the road plate ideal for urban areas where noise is a concern.

Traffic is calmed. Motorists perceive the road plates as giant speed bumps as they have a soft leading edge and are hi vis yellow.

Productivity and safety are increased.  Movement around site is quick and easy as plates are easy to handle and will load into a works truck.  High shipping costs are also eliminated.

The modularity of the panels provides a flexible, safe working environment – and also makes traffic flow more consistent.

It’s easy to comply with rush hour permits: fast, two-man deployment and removal also mean that equipment utilization is improved.

Reinstatement costs are reduced.  There is no requirement to recess Road Plates, so reinstatement is significantly less expensive.

Site security is improved – as the plates have no inherent scrap value.

Maintenance costs are no more … the permanent anti-slip surface and hi vis yellow composite material eliminate ongoing maintenance costs associated with reinstating anti-slip surfaces and painting wood and steel.

Mike Hevey, JH Lynch Construction comments; “We came across Oxford’s composite road plates in an industry publication and thought they would be a great fit for a National Grid project where we would be buying power lines.  The project required trenching across driveways and cross streets in a residential development.  Because Oxford’s plates can be handled manually, we were able to run smaller machines.  Combining that with how much quicker and safer Oxford plates are to set, we ended up with huge cost savings.”

Oxford Plastics has worked closely with utilities and contractors within the UK and US markets, developing the next generation of composite Road Plates.  For some utilities, a cover that could span over a 1200mm width trench opening, while withstanding the same vehicle load, was requested.  

Oxford’s engineers went to work, developing the 23/05 version of the Oxford Composite Road Plate.  

As load rating requirements lessen, less than the vehicle load of up to 44 tons, the trench can withstand covering wider width trenches.  

For example, if the 23/05 Composite Modular Road Plate is only require to withstand pedestrian traffic, the trench can safely cover a trench width of 1500mm.  The length can go for as long as you wish, with each additional interlocking section. 


How are composites keeping footpaths open?

Popular with utility companies working on gas, water, electricity and communication services, contractors are finding the Oxford products much easier and safer to lift into place than heavy steel plates – and much more stable and durable than plywood.

Furthermore, there is a reduced cost of deployment – no more materials and labour costs associated with painting plywood.

Deployed by ConEd subcontractors in Brooklyn, Yonkers and Manhattan – mainly because these flexible and versatile products exceed standard best practice standards in the UK.

Joel Evans, Director, Oxford Plastic Systems comments; “We know that once we roll out a new solution, the market will always come up with the next set of challenges – so we have adapted key lines within the range for specific project requirements, now making them commercially available in, for example, a wide format ideal for driveway access.

“All compliant with the appropriate standards – in many cases, our product specifications drive those standards.  With safety as a backbone, an assortment of trench covers - cousin to the modular Road plates - have been developed.  For example, the 15/10 was developed with National Grid UK, seeking a cover that is simple to work with, and be suited for driveway and sidewalk installations.  The new Oxford LowPro 15/10 Driveway Board uses our patented flexi-edge system to reduce trip hazards for pedestrians and prevent unwanted movement.”

Commissioned by National Grid UK – and designed with feedback from utilities and contractors - the product brief was to design a board to support one wheel of a 3.5t vehicle over a 900mm span – using Oxford’s LowPro technology.

Installation time and reinstatement costs are minimized as, in most site configurations, the product does not need to be fixed in place – although can be bolted if required.  The increased loading and design also enables the product to be used in pedestrian applications that span up to 1200mm.  


Keeping London Moving 

Oxford Plastic Systems’ composite solutions were chosen to keep London moving, as part of a series of initiatives against disruptive roadworks initiated by the former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

Removing the need for lane closures means that roads can be kept open with slower speeds, especially important in urban, built up areas where people live and work.

Oxford Plastic Systems’ road plates have been deployed in order to keep the capital moving, with the original rollout taking place for Transport For London from April 2009, in conjunction with major contractors.  In the past 8 years, up to 19,500 units have been deployed - with many being moved to other contracts due to their overwhelming success.

Why did Oxford Plastic Systems’ Road Plates win the bid to keep London Moving?

The theft of steel products is very common, so this was a key factor in the decision to switch from steel plates to Oxford Plastic Systems’ composite road plates.

Furthermore, manual handling is impossible with traditional steel plates and large, expensive crane lifting is required – all adding to the cost and complexity of any project.

The ease of deployment and compact size of the Road Plates were a perfect fit with the Keep London Moving initiative, where footprint and speed of installation are critical factors.

The permanent anti-slip surface of the Road Plates was another important benefit to ensure maximum safety.  

The costs and downtime associated with the reapplication of the anti-slip coating to steel plates is prohibitive, due to very high wear rates.

The Oxford 15/05 Composite Modular Road plates were developed, initially, as a solution to the concerns presented in the London initiative.  Since, the Composite Modular Road Plate has found a home in countries throughout the world, with Oxford adapting the range to ensure compliance with the most stringent safety codes.


Do your site safety solutions add dollars to your bottom line?

By integrating the most advanced products and the latest generation of safety solutions within a work zone, it is now possible to reduce the cost of deployment whilst exceeding safety standards.  


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