Alstom Case Study – Cambridge

Executive summary

From May 2022, the UK’s leading supplier of trains and rail services will use eviFile’s platform to track and audit signalling installation works on multiple projects, with the Cambridge C3R Project leading the charge – the biggest single signalling contract awarded by Network Rail in CP6.

Alstom has taken a simple approach to its digitisation programme with eviFile to ensure adoption across its engineering and construction teams. This has helped to combat generational attitudes towards the use of mobile devices instead of paper, out on track. Alstom plans to roll out eviFile across all UK projects following a successful trial period on a cable recovery scheme in Paddington.

Background

Alstom is a French multinational rolling stock manufacturer, providing systems, equipment and services for the transport sector, specialising in rail control systems and infrastructure It is the UK and Ireland’s leading supplier of trains and rail services, and the leading signalling and rail infrastructure provider. To date, Alstom has been involved in some of the UK’s most significant and innovative rail projects including: GWML ETCS, ETCS Baseline 3 R2 First in class trainborne installations and Crossrail Signalling.

The firm has built, or is in the process of building, just under 40% of the UK mainline train fleet, as well as the entire fleets in service with London Underground and Dublin Luas. One half of all UK rail journeys are made on an Alstom train, evidencing the scale and reach this organisation has in the industry.

Employing over 6,000 people and operating across 30 locations throughout the UK and Ireland, it provides the widest range of smart solutions in the rail market, from innovative high-speed rolling stock, metros, and trams to maintenance, modernisation, infrastructure, and signalling.

In 2022, Alstom won the largest single contracts to be awarded by Network Rail under the Major Signalling Framework Agreement (MSFA) during the current five-year investment cycle – over £230 million.  The Cambridge and Victoria projects will deliver a complete renewal of the signalling systems to replace existing equipment installed in the 1980s.

The challenge

Alstom, like many other players in the rail sector, have used traditional paper processes and excel based reporting for years. Auditing paper copies and manually inputting data into spreadsheets is uncontrolled, open to error, time consuming and most importantly costly. Huge amounts of time, effort, and cost were wasted through missing data, inefficient processes, lack of transparency, spreadsheet reporting, and siloed data sets.

Poor roll out of other technologies has previously led to resistance across all role types in a project team. Taking the ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ mantra, any adoption of a new digital system was initially met with opposition.

Although digitising projects would be of huge benefit to those working on the ground, generally, some attitudes towards technology are hard to change. It’s human nature to have a reactive approach to introducing new processes or systems once an issue has arisen, rather than proactively looking for things which could make time-consuming jobs easier.

However, it became clear after a particularly challenging signalling project in the summer of 2021 that paper copies and excel databases located away from the site were simply not reliable enough for projects of this importance and scale – adding to the ever-increasing amount of admin needed to complete jobs.

This demonstrated to key stakeholders that digital was the answer. Alstom needed a system to digitise all signalling asset types, installation processes in a single field tool, and data in one place, making it easy to audit efforts and report directly from the site – especially after winning the UK’s biggest signalling frameworks in this control period.

Alstom required a digital platform that was specific and catered to signalling projects, rather than retro-fitting other incompatible systems already in place within the company.

The solution

Acknowledging the need to digitise its projects to improve problematic processes, Alstom assessed several digital project management providers, selecting eviFile as the clear choice in terms of cost, functionality and being particularly suited to the world of signalling installation and testing.

eviFile was trialled on the Paddington project for cable recovery and Location case activities in March 2022. The trial which was undertaken completely digitally and a resounding success.

After realising the full potential of a single field and data tool that can do it all, Alstom has implemented eviFile on two projects and it will be rolled out across all live signalling projects in the UK in due course. This includes projects in Victoria, Farncombe to Petersfield, Cambridge, Swinderby, South Kirby, Ferrybridge to Goole and across control system upgrades which involve 8-10 projects at a time. It is expected that once all are live, eviFile will be used by all Alstom engineers and Alstom contractors nationwide.

eviFile provides Alstom with a vast range of benefits. With the easy-to-use mobile application on both Apple and Android devices.  Supervisors can take this to the site and actively track job progress and collect key quality assurance data, all with photo-based digital evidence. Managers can then track all works history through the digital audit trail eviFile creates – ensuring complete confidence that the task was done to the appropriate standard and making client data hand back a simpler and less time-consuming process.

By removing the archaic paper-based process, eviFile has cut 30% of Alstom supervisors’ time – expected to increase to 50-60% in the future – spent on updating spreadsheets, writing handwritten reports, and updating trackers. Reports are easily generated based on the data input to the system. This means that supervisors can perform the role they were employed to do on site, rather than being an administrator in an office.

With the rail industry using a high number of contractors on the ground, the system needed to be seamless and easy to use to reduce the amount of training time. Alstom reports that eviFile is extremely user-friendly and straightforward to use, which aids buy-in from users to utilise the technology.

Overall, the uptake of eviFile at Alstom is strong and has helped combat some of the resistant attitudes towards technology in the sector, while significantly reducing the amount of time spent on admin.

Alstom expects the number of projects using eviFile to increase by at least 20% in the next 12 months, with the view to building in commissioning projects in the future.

Benefits

  • Accessible from anywhere – able to track history and audit on the go or at home
  • User-friendly – easy for anyone to pick up and use straight away
  • Enabler to changing attitudes towards using technology in the rail sector
  • Provides a seamless user experience
  • Reduces the amount of paper administration needed
  • Cuts costs and saves time
  • Improves reporting processes
  • Everything on one system

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The Company

Alstom is a French multinational rolling stock manufacturer, providing systems, equipment and services for the transport sector, specialising in rail control systems and infrastructure It is the UK and Ireland’s leading supplier of trains and rail services, and the leading signalling and rail infrastructure provider. To date, Alstom has been involved in some of the UK’s most significant and innovative rail projects including: GWML ETCS, ETCS Baseline 3 R2 First in class trainborne installations and Crossrail Signalling.