Max Thorley

Shining the spotlight on Max Thorley

With more than 25 years’ experience in the traffic management industry, you might think of our senior traffic signal design engineer Max Thorley as somewhat of a veteran - but this seasoned engineer certainly isn’t one to let the grass grow under his feet.

As one of the most experienced design engineers on our Urban64 team, Max constantly keeps pace with our industry’s ever-changing technology and he puts his technical knowledge to good use developing intricate traffic signal scheme designs for customers up and down the country.

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Working with local authorities, civil engineering firms and local contractors, Max currently has a number of highly complex Urban64 schemes operating throughout the UK, including one at Junction 10 on the M6.

“Before I joined SRL in September last year, I’d worked for many organisations, including Bristol City Council, Highways England and Atkins. So, my background had been predominantly in permanent signals, which are a different dynamic to temporary systems,” reveals Max, who is based in Bristol. “However, because Urban64 is designed to replicate a permanent system, I was confident that I could make the transition to this solution and broaden my experience in the industry even further,” he adds.

“Urban64 is such an intelligent system”

Passion for design

Prior to joining SRL, Max held a number of roles where he managed teams of people. However, his heart was really in the design side and he was keen to get back to detailed design and project management for traffic signal schemes. Luckily, this role was perfect for Max and he is now an invaluable member of our Urban64 team.

Reporting to managing director John Cleary, Max works closely with every discipline in the team - from the operations and commercial functions - to the commissioning, configuration and installation departments.

Max’s expertise lies very much in traffic signals, and he is experienced in junction modelling assessments, CAD drawing, traffic signal control specifications, factory and site acceptance testing and MOVA control. He is a self-confessed fan of everything technical!

Max is responsible for developing Urban64 system designs, which starts with him reviewing the information provided and, where possible, discussing the site specifics with the customer on what they want to achieve. “I then translate this into a workable scheme that integrates the new equipment layout, signal timings functionality and operation. I then liaise with the rest of our wider team to ensure we get it right,” says Max. “It’s a detailed process to make sure the design is correct and it definitely requires meticulous attention to detail,” he says.

Seamless schemes

Max works hard to ensure the documentation produced is as comprehensive as possible. “I do spend a lot of time liaising with all the departments, but I think this gives a better continuity to a scheme, from start to finish,” admits Max. “I like to talk to colleagues and customers to ensure everyone understands the drawings, so there is no misinterpretation. That gives us the opportunity to make changes to the documentation if necessary and ultimately save time for the customer.”

One recent project that Max has worked on is the busy Catcliffe Interchange at Junction 33 of the M1. “We worked with a specialist MOVA provider for this scheme on a large, busy roundabout, which has around 20 Urban64 blocks installed. It was complicated and we had to adapt the drawings before it was validated, but I’m proud that it’s working really well now in the real world,” says Max.

Such a conscientious approach must surely have helped Max achieve a First-Class BSc degree in Civil Engineering back in 2012 - all whilst working at the same time? “Studying and working simultaneously is a challenge,” he confesses. “However, in my case, I was doing my degree to further my education and broaden my knowledge, so I was 100% committed to achieving the best result I could.”

Fast forward 10 years on from achieving his degree and the world of traffic signals has moved on significantly, with developments like Urban64 making their mark. “Urban64 is such an intelligent system,” says Max. “There have been so many customers that have bought into it because, uniquely, it uses overhead cables so it eliminates the need for underground cabling, which can get damaged more easily. It’s flexible and efficient and more robust than poles in barrels,” he adds.

With an impressive career behind him, there must have been many memorable occasions for Max, but does one stand out? “A major highlight for me was leading on the traffic signal designs and implementation for the Greater Bristol Bus Network corridors in Bristol - it was a multi-discipline scheme that had a real impact in improving my local area,” says Max. “I’ve also really enjoyed mentoring and training team members through a range of development programs that I’ve been involved in. I genuinely think it’s important to inspire youngsters into this industry by offering them exciting and rewarding careers.”

And we think you’re just the person to do that, Max.

Find out more about Urban64 here