Originally intended to launch in June 2013, ESDAL2 is the replacement service for ESDAL, the Highways Agency website for hauliers notifying abnormal load movements to Structure Owning Authorities. It has been developed and will be operated by Costain and their Dutch partner ARS T&TT under a £4.77m five year Highways Agency contract. ESDAL2, once available, is intended to enable abnormal load hauliers and crane companies to more easily submit their abnormal load notifications to Structure Owning and Police Authorities. Although postponed several times Costain has recently announced the new service will be finally be available from 27th January 2015.

Unfortunately, from the launch date of ESDAL2 many HA Area Contractors, appointed by the Highways Agency to manage abnormal loads travelling across the national motorway and trunk road system, will take a large backwards step in the time they take to process an abnormal load notification. With a statutory two or five working day turnaround time to respond to a notification this will put greater pressure on operating staff and will undoubtedly lead to an increase in processing costs.

AbLoads®, the specialised abnormal loads software developed by Cascade Software, has been in use by Structure Owning Authorities for 20 years managing the abnormal load notification process. Currently AbLoads® processes about 60% of the UK’s abnormal load notifications across the Highways Agency national road network. With some Highways Agency Areas receiving in excess of 300 notifications daily, and with a set time period to respond back to hauliers, speed and automation of the entire process is vital. Currently notifications submitted via the existing ESDAL method take less than a minute to process, check and respond to. It is likely the time taken once ESDAL2 is launched could increase by up to 300% per notification.

John Waterfall, Chairman of Cascade Software comments “Despite Cascade’s best efforts to work with Costain during the 14 month development of ESDAL2, and with only one week now remaining before launch, we have received sample XML data files from Costain which are deficient and need correcting and extending. These files are vital for the automated data entry into Cascade’s AbLoads® software. Whilst we have our developers working extremely hard to minimise the impact on our AbLoads® customers, this has come to light at an extremely late stage, and we are disappointed that Costain did not acknowledge or recognise the importance of our AbLoads® customers much earlier on in the development process.”

He adds “Since more than half of the notifications for motorways and trunk roads maintained by Highways Agency Area Contractors, and many for major Local Authorities, are currently processed utilising Cascade’s AbLoads® software, Cascade are pressing hard for this to be put right quickly.

Thankfully ESDAL notifications do not form the largest group of notifications submitted to Structure Owning Authorities, and notifications submitted using cascade’s AbHaulier®, the sister software to AbLoads®, can still be processed in seconds.”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are not necessarily the views of Nimble Media Limited or HeavyTorque magazine, but those of the individual contributor Mr John Waterfall, Chairman of Cascade Software Ltd. Nimble Media Limited shall not be liable for any losses suffered or expenses incurred howsoever or wheresoever arising whether directly or indirectly and whether consequential or otherwise due to any inaccuracy of the information contained.