How Milestone Infrastructure uses Procore’s data solutions to streamline its highways operations while growing its business


Looking to grow a business at pace while enhancing the existing operations is no mean feat, but that’s exactly what Milestone Infrastructure has been doing. The highways contractor has been growing its operational footprint in recent years and is still looking to expand operations right across the UK while producing the safest and greenest highways in the country. To do this the firm has implemented a targeted and dedicated programme of innovation – seeking to maximise productivity, improve processes and amplify its operations. As such, the firm investigated the tools that could best support its drive for innovation, which is where Procore entered the picture.

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“The faster our innovations are seen to not be innovative is my marker for success. That is because if everyone keeps seeing something as innovative, that means no one is actually taking it on,” says Alex Winchester, Milestone Infrastructure’s strategic improvement director.

And this seems key to the ethos at Winchester’s firm Milestone, which has an exceptional reputation built on designing, building, and maintaining the UK’s critical highways infrastructure.

The company, which is looking after 24,000 miles of roads, 280,000 lighting assets and 20,000 miles of footways, is committed to ensuring all works are carried out as safely and sustainably as possible and with minimal impact to local communities.

To do this the firm, which became part of M Group Services, thanks to a £50m acquisition of Skanska UK’s highway maintenance and street lighting business in May 2021, has committed to a well thought-out innovation programme, both leveraging and harnessing the big data that is naturally accrued in the sort of work Milestone does.

The firm is working to implement best practices across its multi-located workforce and decarbonise its work in the UK’s second-biggest emitting sector. And it has done all this supported through its partnership with Procore.

From an innovation perspective, Milestone has come up with a solid process that allows it to decide which changes to pursue. “We currently run a standard, central repository called the Innovations Hub,” says Steven Frost, head of digital solutions and innovations at Milestone.

Capturing innovations

“I suppose it isn’t just a repository. It’s our method of capturing innovations from across all the different projects and it doesn’t matter which discipline or area you’re looking at, whether it’s highways, street lighting, or projects.” Frost says the hub is all about gathering those ideas, innovations and improvements, from both a Milestone and client perspective, to ensure they are all collaboratively accessible, as the firm’s ethos is that this is “the only way you can get innovations to move forward”.

In fact, the Innovations Hub is how the firm came to adopt Procore business-wide. “It was an idea brought forward 18 months ago,” says Frost. “We worked through a number of stages, going through sense-checking, making sure the scope is right, liaising with directors and the leadership team, just to make sure it’s right,” he adds. “Then actually doing on-site trials with a number of different systems, going through that normal, logical process and whittling them down one by one.”

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Milestone’s work, focused on highways, means even staff on a single project are spread across many sites, so it is imperative that everyone is working in sync in a single system

Winchester says they knew Procore was the right solution due to its ease of use, real-time project visibility and insights, allowing them to get the buy-in of its employees, and the way Procore allows for real-time project visibility, supporting Milestone to make better decisions.

“Maintaining roads lends itself to being data driven. This is mainly because we are looking after larger assets, and those assets are points and lines and dots on maps or in asset databases,” describes Frost as he explains the importance of reporting, maintaining and maximising the data the firm is accruing across its projects.

On this, Frost says Procore’s document functions have been absolutely vital. “Making sure that the teams on site have access to the right data at the right time is absolutely vital for our projects, the project teams and getting them to work correctly,” he says.

Tiered data access

“Giving them access to the data in a way that can be controlled has also been key. Because we’ve got lots of different stakeholders that are working on a project at any one time, not necessarily every one of those people and teams needs access to every bit of information. So being able to set permissions at different levels and allow that tiered access has been great.”

Winchester adds that the added benefit is that it is helping the business go paperless – something he says is key if the true power of the data is to be harnessed. “It doesn’t matter how much we crunch the data; if people still rely on bits of paper, all that information is going to waste.

“Our first focus with the data is to show people that accessing it through a phone, tablet or a laptop gives them better control and better understanding than the traditional dirty-fingerprinted scraps of paper and notebooks,” he says. “And that’s why tools like Procore have been so significant to that process.”

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Procore’s technology enables access through phone, laptop or tablet, with data access set on tiered levels for maximum control

The highways sector is the second-largest carbon emitter in the UK, making Milestone’s commitment to sustainability a significant one. Not only has the firm already committed to running its whole fleet on hydrotreated vegetable oil, but is also recycling and reusing material from its projects.

Winchester says: “We are working with Hampshire County Council and another provider, OCL, where we have a recycling plant in Hampshire. One of the biggest problems with highways is that not only do you have large fleets of vehicles, but you are also constantly quarrying new virgin material, which you are ploughing back into the road and you’re discarding polluted material.” He says the firm is now cleaning that and is using the “existing highways as a quarry”.

“We are relaying the material that we’ve already extracted from the roads and we’re hoping to ramp that up and expand that substantially,” he says.

Cutting the carbon footprint

In fact, despite the business expanding, its carbon footprint has actually dropped year-on-year over the past four years. Here, Frost flags the importance of getting things right the first time in order to ensure less rework and landfill waste and fewer carbon emissions, saying that this is where Procore plays a role. He says Procore provides visibility and oversight, flagging potential issues at an earlier stage and supporting getting things right the first time.

Given the nature of the work Milestone does, maintaining, designing and upgrading highways, its workforce is by nature a disparate one. As staff on one project alone are based across a multitude of sites, it is imperative that everyone is on the same page.

Multi-location workflows

According to Frost, the Procore tasks tool has been key to streamlining multi-location workflows: “That’s had a massive uptake. Inside Procore, you generate a task, and it’s simply a case of ‘I’d like you to do X by this date’ and then assign it to somebody – and it’s amazing how it has helped manage things. It makes things simpler to track, and people really welcome that. It also means that we can then start tracking and engaging with our supply chain, which we couldn’t do before, and we’ve got something that we can track.”

This is also where Procore’s project management offering comes to the fore, Winchester says, adding there are three tools specifically that are absolutely core. “They are inspections, observations, and forms,” he says. “Fundamentally, they all remove the need for those forms, processes, and inspections to be done on paper, and just get them to be carried out digitally.” He says these functions not only enable the collation and comparison of data across multiple sites of the same job, but also enable comparisons across multiple projects. In turn this lets teams spot health and safety, quality or compliance issues much earlier, and tackle them before they have time to significantly disrupt work.

Winchester says the key to all of this being implementable has been simplicity: “What’s been key is they are just easily adopted, and people welcome that. That’s the great thing about it.”

Having the tools to support your business ambitions is key, says Frost. And that is what the firm has found through partnering with Procore. Not only has the implementation of Procore itself been an example of innovation at the infrastructure company, but it has also enabled Milestone to enhance its workflows while tackling core challenges. Whether it be supporting the firm’s net zero ambitions, harnessing the power of the data it has access to or ensuring processes are uniform across jobs, the partnership is allowing Milestone to chase growth while bolstering its existing business.