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SCRIM® reaches gold standard

A machine which revolutionised the way governments and highway authorities around the world monitor the safety of their roads is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The Sideway-force Coefficient Routine Investigation Machine, or SCRIM® as it’s more commonly known, is manufactured by Bristol-based W.D.M. Limited and is an example of British engineering at its very best.

The first machine, which measures the wet-road skid resistance, was built for the then Government-funded Transport and Road Research Laboratory in 1967. Since then WDM®, who are the sole licensed manufacturers worldwide, have had machines operating in 18 countries.

The SCRIM apparatus is typically built on a commercial vehicle chassis and has test wheels mounted in the wheelpaths at an angle of 20 degrees to the direction of travel. The freely rotating smooth pneumatic tyre is applied to the road surface under a known load and a controlled flow of water wets the surface immediately in front of it.

When the vehicle moves forward the test wheel slides across the surface and the force generated by this action is related to the wet skidding resistance. An index determines how slippery the road surface is and helps engineers responsible for maintaining the road to assess current and future surface condition.

The first SCRIM was built by WDM® founder Leslie Gardiner MBE and today the Company is still owned by the same family, with headquarters in the Staple Hill area of Bristol. The Company dates back to 1945, but became involved in the road survey sector in the mid-60s when they were approached by the Ministry of Transport to ‘modify a lorry’ for road testing.

The SCRIM was adopted by the Ministry and WDM® not only sold the machine but began carrying out survey work themselves. The machine’s development was a watershed in the Company’s history.

WDM® is now a world leader in delivering safer road surfaces, with a global reputation for innovation and expertise. They are the UK’s leading manufacturer and provider of road survey, motorway maintenance and road condition assessment equipment and also the UK’s largest survey contractor.

The Company employs 150 people and also has offices in New Zealand, where it has been the primary provider of surveying services to the New Zealand government for more than two decades. Two SCRIM machines are based in New Zealand and have helped deliver reductions in skid related fatalities of up to 40%, as well as a cost/benefit return of 35 to one.

WDM® continue to build SCRIM and recently exported its first machine to the USA, where it is undergoing trials with the Federal Highways Administration.

The Company chairman, John Gardiner, son of the founder, says several attempts have been made to copy SCRIM, but there’s only one original.

“SCRIM® has been successful because it delivers reliable and reproducible data and enables highway engineers at both national and local level to target where to spend their budget most effectively“, he says.

“Over the last 50 years SCRIM has helped save literally thousands of lives, which has made an impact across the political, social, economic and community spectrums by improving highway safety and reducing accidents.”

He added that throughout their history WDM® has harnessed innovation with the latest technology.

“The fourth generation of our family is now embarking on a career within WDM® and we look forward to the future with confidence and the conviction that we can continue to make a difference.”

* SCRIM is the registered trade mark of W.D.M. Limited

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