Knowledge of what action that is needed to drive innovation at a desired speed is in demand in civil engineering and its related maintenance. 1. What measures to stimulate innovation have been tested? 2. How much innovation has been achieved by contracting? 3. How much innovation was achieved by performance-based specifications? 4. How can cost models contribute to innovation? Methods include qualitative and quantitative methods that have been timed and mixed to optimize their merits. Sweden, France, USA and Canada have used as research ground.
Technology transfer, multi-criteria evaluation, variant bidding, idea mailbox, weatherregulated payment, contests and earmarked funds for innovative projects were some of the method beside and within contracting and performance-based specifications that have been tested.
Contracting as such has cut costs in Sweden but not in North America. Neither Sweden nor North America has noticed any increase of innovation, rather the contrary. The savings have primarily been achieved by cuts on staff and by using standardized, less expensive and less advanced machinery. Contracted highway maintenance provinces in Canada and Sweden on average had about 50 % higher costs than inhouse provinces and Washington State. The difference is reduced to 26 %, when corrected by weather and the higher traffic in the contracted provinces. Prestige, politics and competitivity made it difficult to extract economic data from private contractors, and even from the public owners and may explain the contradictory results in previous studies. The internally driven innovation appears small and incentives to innovation weak in inhouse systems, but contrary to expectation even less in contracted systems.
Performance-based specifications (PBS), such as Design-Build (DB), have reduced delivery times and kept the budget better than traditional contracts, but quality, lifecycle cost and technical progress was rarely analyzed and even less confirmed in the literature, why a multiple case study was carried out. The result was that three out of four PBS cases delivered lower quality in the long run or showed higher costs already on the opening day, when compared to a traditional contract alternative.
Cost models contribute to innovation by making regions with different conditions comparable and provide tools for rational planning and decision making. One model for how highway maintenance costs depend on snow, bridges and traffic and one model for how bridge maintenance costs depend on size and age were elaborated. Models included in contracts, e.g. to allow a contractor to reduce the weather risk, appear to have contributed to a more successful contracting rollout in Sweden than in Canada.
France provides experience of how inhouse innovation contests and industry-own patent-like routines can promote innovation. After the first two years with an incentive contract, Banverket received 10 % better quality measured as train delay and 20 % better quality measured as the number of technical errors at no cost. A lesson learnt is that the success of performance-based specifications depends on how well the owner can describe and define the contracts, how compliance is measured and how deviations are handled, i.e. how the contractor is penalized for non-fulfillment or awarded for excess delivery
Stockholm: KTH , 2007. , 32, 13 p.