New Civil Engineer’s Future of Rail virtual event took place on Thursday 15th July, exploring the post Covid-19 role of the railway, and assessing innovative opportunities in the sector.
Watched by 200 online attendees, sessions covered critical issues such as climate change, the importance of electrifying UK rail, and the true value of digital twins in asset management.
The impressive line-up of speakers included Mike Smith, Programme Director of Restoring Your Railway at Network Rail; Maria Cliff, Head of Operations at East West Rail; Lawrence Shackman, Head of Rail Projects and Technical Services at Transport Scotland; and our own Tom Boland, Head of Digitisation at Zutec.
Tom shared his knowledge of digital twins during the session entitled: World-leading approach to using digital in infrastructure construction.
As Silver Sponsors of the event, Zutec were delighted to host this 15-minute presentation and Q&A session, in the expert company of Peter Ruff, Head of BIM for SCS Railways on the HS2 project, and Dr Anita Soni, Deputy Head of BIM at SCS Railways and Skanska Infrastructure.
This practical session provided a deep-dive into how SCS – the joint venture between Skanska, Costain and STRABAG – is delivering the 250k southern section of the £106bn HS2 railway, by engaging fully with HS2’s big digital ambitions.
Facilitated by the Zutec BIM platform, SCS and HS2 are together connecting the digital model of the southern section between London and Birmingham, with the quality control and inspection documentation. It’s a ground-breaking digital twin project that will benefit stakeholders, from the engineers and suppliers on site, to end users of the completed railway.
The presentation showed how connecting the engineering data and quality documentation with real-time reporting is benefitting the entire project, culminating in the automated and efficient handover of structured data at completion.
The panel enlightened the audience on how higher quality and more accurate inspection and quality control records can be stored in a digital twin, and passed over to the client to maintain the railway during the operational phase.
It was emphasised that ‘making life easier’ is the core objective of this digital twin strategy. With 5 million quality checklists digitised through the Zutec platform, it has been possible to provide multiple stakeholder groups with one source of the truth. Pre-populated forms save time, site inspections are streamlined and audit trails are reliable and transparent. Overall, there are health and safety, time, cost, data security, environmental and quality benefits, from deploying this digital information flow.
Further insights were provided into how the supply chain is given a helping hand with digital twin technology on a project like this. Suppliers have access to the BIM data lake, for example, as well as real time progress and information tracking. Expectations can be tightly managed and suppliers can plan ahead with ease.
Tom, Peter and Anita also touched on ‘getting people on board’ saying that, to date, the system has been successfully rolled out to 550 staff and 48 subcontractors. This will grow to over 1,500 users and 80 companies on the system in 2022. Training, clear communication of the benefits, and empowering site engineers to become the ‘owners’ of elements of the system have all helped embed the project.
The inspection and test plan sign-off process has been reduced from 21 days to 4, the panel revealed, and there has been a 90% reduction in time spent completing forms. All key milestones were met during Covid, confirming how, with the right technology in place, it’s possible to satisfy the customer, even during a pandemic.
Final thoughts to round off the presentation focused on what has underpinned such achievements, and a simple equation was shared: Strategy + People + Platform = Success. Ongoing improvements continue to be seen, the speakers said, as this vast, ambitious infrastructure project powers towards completion.
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To learn more about digital twin technology and how it can be used in infrastructure projects, book a demo with Zutec today.