A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme

The £1.5 billion Highways England Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme is the biggest road improvement project currently taking place in the UK. 

  • A-Store tool hire unit by A-Plant
  • A-Store tool hire unit by A-Plant

Project Location

Cambridge to Huntingdon


£1.5 billion


Project commenced in November 2016. Due for completion by December 2020

Products Used

2 x A-Stores

A-Store tool hire unit with Hilti tools by A-Plant

The A14 Integrated Delivery Team (A14 IDT), a joint venture of contractors Costain, Skanska and Balfour Beatty, is delivering the scheme with designers Atkins, CH2M.

On completion, the scheme will cut journey times by 20 minutes on one of the busiest parts of the road network between the Midlands and East Anglia. Approximately 85,000 vehicles use this stretch every day, which is beyond its actual capacity.

The scheme includes both new highway construction and the widening and improvement of existing highways. A total of 21 miles of carriageway is being upgraded to three lanes in each direction, including a brand new 17-mile bypass south of Huntingdon, with four lanes in each direction between Bar Hill and Girton.

At peak a construction team of over 2,500 people have been involved in the works and the project is due for completion by the end of 2020. It represents a huge investment by the government and as well as reducing traffic congestion, the improvement programme aims to connect communities, improve safety and reduce stress on drivers.

The Challenge

This is a mammoth project involving a 21-mile stretch of road, 2,500 site operatives and a strict timetable for completion, as the new road needs to be opened for drivers by the end of 2020. The project includes 34 new bridges and structures and 10 million cubic metres of material needs to be moved. For a project of this magnitude, it is crucial that operatives have instant access to a huge range of tools and equipment in order to get the job done efficiently and on time.

“Having two A-Stores on Section 4 of the A14 project has enabled us to make savings whilst enhancing efficiencies. Our operatives have instant access to a wide range of tools in two remote locations of the project, so this removes the need for us to transport equipment from elsewhere.

“We benefit from having one consolidated invoice for all equipment used, as well as a wealth of information at our fingertips about what equipment has been used and for how long. In addition, we are also considering if it is feasible to have a supply of consignment stock of consumables to go with the tools provided.” 

Alan Webster, Plant Manager, A14 Integrated Delivery Team

The Solution

A-Plant has been heavily involved in the A14 project as a supply chain partner. There is already a large on-site hire store in Brampton offering a wide range of A-Plant equipment. In order to enhance the supply of equipment even further, A-Plant recommended the use of its A-Store - a secure, unmanned, self-service tool store that is accessible 24 hours a day. One of its great advantages is that it can be sited in remote locations and can be fully loaded with tools and consumables to meet specific equipment needs.

Access is gained to the unit by presenting a swipe card and all equipment is stored on shelves inside the unit, with each item being electronically tagged using state-of-the-art RFID technology. To ensure maximum security, CCTV records activity inside the unit.

As operatives take equipment from the shelves it automatically registers the removal, recording the date and time. When the equipment is ready to be returned, the operative simply enters the unit and places the equipment back on the shelves, at which point the RFID tag is back in range and the return of equipment is registered electronically. The A-Store improves equipment control, security and productivity whilst offering huge savings in carbon emissions, labour, time and transport. There is zero paperwork, no waiting for equipment to arrive or be collected and significant reductions in carbon footprint.

The Results

Following a successful month’s trial, A-Plant has provided two A-Stores for use on the project - one positioned in the Swavesey compound and one at the Barhill compound. Up to 15 operatives have been granted access to each A-Store, whereby they can enter the A-Store and choose the equipment they need, when they need it. Huge time efficiencies have been made and using A-Plant’s Axis system, the A14 IDT can instantly check online what equipment has been used and the costs incurred.

So far, this project has won eight industry awards for innovative working, including ‘Best Construction Project to Work On’ and a RoSPA Gold Health and Safety Award. The project is also the first of its type to be recognised as by the Considerate Construction Scheme as an ‘Ultra’ site, for the way the project is delivered.