Heathrow Airport is the UK's busiest airport, and the third busiest airport in the world in total passenger traffic, handling more international passengers than any other airport around the globe. The project, completed in September 2013, was to overhaul the majority of the traffic signs, posts and lighting, in and around the airport. Heathrow had a combination of illuminated and non-illuminated sites, with the focus of the project to illuminate all traffic signs, increasing safety and visibility for all airport users. A key aspect of the development was to overcome the challenge of powering an illuminated traffic sign at a site without an existing power supply, and without creating additional disruptive ground works.
The Solar Solution
The scope of the work was to install over 350 traffic signs with new posts, sign plate and illumination, as well as 20 illuminated traffic bollards. The airport is in operation 24hrs a day, therefore the work needed to be completed in sections over a 6-month period, to minimise disruption. For sites without an existing power supply, post mounted solar photovoltaic panels combined with batteries secured in the base were installed, providing a reliable power source to illuminate the traffic sign. This solution negated the need for additional ground works that would have been required if a mains powered solution had been adopted.
A total of 247 internally illuminated LED traffic signs were installed to a mixture of solar and mains powered sites. The internally illuminated signs consume just 5.2 watts of power illuminating the sign face, not the surrounding area, delivering excellent visibility against busy or heavily illuminated backgrounds. These LED traffic signs were chosen for this project, as they are some of the slimmest internally illuminated traffic signs available at 75mm in depth, ensuring a streamlined solution for areas with minimal clearance around the post.
The 230v LED Delta sign light was installed at 37 sites with existing power supplies, and the 12v Solar Delta sign light combined with a post top photovoltaic panel was installed at 69 sites. The Delta type ‘A’ sign light provides an energy efficient and anti vandal solution for external illumination of traffic signs. The sign plate used with the Delta was produced at our specialist production facility in Oldbury, West Midlands. Each sign was produced using high performance retroreflective vinyl, screen-printed, then mounted on an aluminium plate, ensuring a long service life.
A combination of straight and cranked wide based posts were used to mount the traffic signs, all manufactured at our post and column production facility in Cheshire. As a result of recent investment in the facility, we also coated the required number of posts in-house, further ensuring consistent high quality and on time deliveries.
20 Solar TrueFlex traffic bollards were installed in and around the airport, highlighting various traffic management features such as islands and pedestrian refuges. The Solar TrueFlex is a passively safe retroreflective self righting bollard with and illuminated sign face, powered by an on-board battery pack, and charged by photovoltaic panels mounted to the top and sides of the unit. The use of the Solar TrueFlex traffic bollard offered many advantages over a base lit alternative, delivering environmental and energy saving benefits as well as being quick to install, avoiding additional costs, disruption and mains supply ground works. The result is a very environmentally friendly and energy efficient method of powering the traffic sign, in and around Heathrow Airport.