Transforming the Core Valley Lines with Balfour Beatty Rail

“Raildiary is a system that can be easily and quickly implemented across the whole team. It offers a huge amount of value to everyone involved with the project."

Paul Shipton

Programme Manager

Transforming the Core Valley Lines with Balfour Beatty Rail
Balfour Beatty
Project Type
Core Valley Lines
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Raildiary is enabling Balfour Beatty, a leading international infrastructure group, to drive data-driven project management and streamline communication channels. The Core Valley Lines project required a consistent process for capturing data on resource allocation, activities, working times, and delays.

The Core Valley line track enhancements are a crucial part of the South Wales Metro project, aiming to revolutionise public transportation. With a £750 million investment, the railway lines to Aberdare, Coryton, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhymney, and Treherbert are being upgraded. These enhancements involve electrifying approximately 170km of track, modernising stations and signalling systems, and constructing at least two new stations.

The project, partially funded by the European Regional Development Fund, aims to deliver improved transportation services whilst ensuring care for the environment and nearby properties. The construction of a £100 million depot and Metro Control Centre at Taff's Well, Rhondda Cynon Taff, is already underway, which will house the new Metro trains and the operational staff. The majority of the South Wales Metro project is scheduled for completion by 2024.

The Challenge

Delivering massive infrastructure transformation programmes presents technical challenges and requires collaborative work among delivery partners across various disciplines, work packages, and worksites.

Balfour Beatty faced the challenge of achieving collaboration and a common narrative across its projects. To ensure efficient and successful outcomes, the company decided to adopt a consistent process for capturing data on resource allocation, activities, working times, and delays.

Previously, this data was stored in various sources such as WhatsApp groups, email threads, and Microsoft Word documents, highlighting the need for a standardised solution that Balfour Beatty's supply chain and subcontractors can use to streamline data capture and utilisation.

Transforming the Core Valley Lines with Balfour Beatty Rail
"Prior to using Raildiary, we were very much reliant on paper-based systems and didn't have a consistent process in place for site reporting, so we used Excel spreadsheets. Reports come back in Word documents and what we found was that we didn't have any data from our site reporting to provide us with useful management information going forward." - Peter Johnson, Senior Technical Manager

The Solution

From inspired beginnings to effective implementation, Balfour Beatty's Core Valley project team partnered with Raildiary to take their data collection capabilities to the next level.

With the Raildiary platform, the team could capture and share high-quality data seamlessly, empowering field-based teams with the tools they need to stay on track and make informed decisions.

The streamlined approach eliminated the need for tedious processes and paperwork, allowing the team to focus on what truly matters - driving efficiencies and achieving success.

Thanks to consistent, reliable data flowing in from the worksite, the Balfour Beatty team can now make informed decisions, identify opportunities for improvement, and streamline communication channels.

Transforming the Core Valley Lines with Balfour Beatty Rail
"Raildiary has given us a one-stop shop for all our site reporting. We're able to capture really good quality information from sites and as a result, we get really good data and really good management information which we can use to drive improvements well. It takes 2 to 3 minutes to complete a site report at the end of the shift, and we're finding that teams can complete a lot of it during the shift. So we've saved an incredible amount of time." - Paul Shipton, Programme Manager

Seamless Onboarding

Introducing a new process or tool can be a daunting task, particularly when a project is already in full swing. To address this, Raildiary and Balfour Beatty collaborated on five key areas to ensure a smooth implementation:

  1. Learn from past projects: Raildiary had been previously used by some members of the project team on other projects, so they had ready-made champions within the team who could support the rollout to their peers.
    This also meant they didn't have to reinvent the wheel, which is always a plus.
  1. Executive buy-in: As a valuable tool for project success, it was important to obtain buy-in from executives to ensure that everyone recognised the benefits of the tool. By having executive buy-in, the project team had the necessary backing and resources to support the implementation of the tool.  This meant that the team had access to the budget, staff, and technology needed to make the implementation a success.
  1. Dedicated field training: While remote training is becoming increasingly common, in-person training sessions remain one of the most effective ways to train teams. Raildiary conducted a series of workshops with field teams to cover everything from the basics of capturing data to how it could help with signing task briefs and communicating environmental issues.
  1. Raildiary Academy: To ensure that everyone on the project team was fully trained on the SiteDiary platform, the Balfour Beatty Team were enrolled into the Raildiary Academy. This is an online training portal that provides video tutorials and interactive training modules that cover everything from the basics of capturing data to advanced features of the platform.  By providing a centralised, accessible platform for training, Raildiary made it easy for field teams to learn how to use the platform effectively. This eliminated the need for additional training sessions, which can be difficult to coordinate and require significant resources to organise. 
    The Raildiary Academy also allowed team members to learn at their own pace, which meant that they could fit training into their schedules more easily. Additionally, the Raildiary team could track who had completed the training, ensuring that everyone was fully trained before the platform was rolled out..
  1. Feedback on each record:  Feedback was an important part of the support process for field-based teams, with Raildiary real-time data providing users with regular updates on how their data was being used and how it was contributing to the overall success of the project. This feedback helped to keep users engaged and motivated, and also provided a means for the project team to identify any issues or areas for improvement in the onboarding process

The onboarding process was designed to quickly eliminate the need for multiple processes and paperwork and to empower field-based teams with the tools they needed to drive efficiencies and success in the project.

“Raildiary is a system that can be easily and quickly implemented across the whole team. It offers a huge amount of value to everyone involved with the project." Paul Shipton - Programme Manager

Removing paperwork

Raildiary’s SiteDocuments function has allowed the Balfour Beatty project team to add even more value by ditching paper from site. 

With this digital tool, task briefs, drawings, and safety documents are now all digitally signed by field staff on site as part of the site diary process. This has dramatically reduced the amount of paper being printed on site, which is not only a win for the team's sanity but also for the environment.

By using SiteDocuments, Supervisors are saving an hour a day on average, as they no longer need to physically take the paper back and forth between sites and the office. This digital process has also provided the project team with a greater level of consistency and accountability. 

Raildiary establishes a clear digital audit trail, allowing the team to understand the detail without the admin and chasing of paper documents, and has been essential for maintaining their high standards of quality and safety on-site.

But the benefits don't stop there. 

By going paperless, the Balfour Beatty team is also doing its part to reduce its environmental impact. Printing and transporting paper has a significant carbon footprint, and by reducing the amount of paper used on-site, the team is reducing its carbon emissions. The use of digital tools like SiteDocuments is a crucial step towards sustainable project management and Balfour Beatty is leading the way.

“It saves them having to go back to the office filling out paper forms, Excel spreadsheets, things that cause errors. When we primarily relied on email communication, people would drop off CC lists meaning not everyone would get the report. Now everybody has it in their inbox and everybody's informed with the right information.” - Peter Johnson, Senior Technical Manager

Data-led project management

Project management and Commercial Management teams are like detectives on a case - they need high-quality data to crack it.

Without accurate and timely information from site, it can be incredibly difficult to understand the performance of a project and make informed decisions about resource allocation and budgetary concerns.

That's where Raildiary came in to help. By providing a consistent flow of high-quality information from site, Raildiary enabled the Balfour Beatty project and commercial management teams to make data-driven decisions that lead to better outcomes. 

From understanding resource allocation to tracking working times and identifying delays, Raildiary's data capture capabilities help teams stay on top of their projects and make adjustments as necessary.

One of the key benefits of Raildiary is its ability to substantiate early warning and facilitate collaborative contract management. With access to real-time data from site, project and commercial management teams can identify potential issues before they become major problems and work collaboratively with supply chain and subcontractors to find solutions. 

This not only helps to keep projects on track, but also strengthens relationships and fosters a culture of collaboration and cooperation.

In addition to providing real-time data, Raildiary also helps project and commercial management teams focus on what really matters by automatically scoring each record for access, productivity, and overall efficiency. This allows teams to quickly identify areas for improvement and make adjustments as necessary, rather than spending countless hours poring over data trying to find areas for optimisation

Keeping stakeholders informed

Balfour Beatty has found that keeping stakeholders informed is the key to success on the CVL project. By improving project visibility, the delivery team has been able to maintain clear communication and collaboration, not only amongst themselves but also with their client, Transport for Wales, and other contractors on the programme.

With real-time information coming back from site, the team has been able to identify potential issues early on and take corrective action, avoiding any nasty surprises down the line. This has led to more proactive conversations and a better understanding of the project's progress.

In addition to improving relationships with stakeholders, project visibility has also helped the team to manage resources more effectively, plan workloads, and make informed decisions based on data. The team has been able to optimise their working time, reduce delays and ensure that everything runs like clockwork.

But that's not all. Improving project visibility has also had a positive impact on the environment. By reducing the need for unnecessary travel, paper and printing, the project has become more sustainable and eco-friendly. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Overall, keeping stakeholders informed through improved project visibility has brought greater control and predictability to the project, resulting in better outcomes for the delivery team, their client, and the environment.

Streamlining Record Communication

In today's world, communication is king, but sometimes it can also be the jester, clowning around and sabotaging project delivery. The project team was no exception, as they juggled multiple communication options such as email, WhatsApp, and Microsoft Teams, all in an attempt to capture and relay shift information.

Unfortunately, this was like trying to play Jenga with too many blocks - the tower was bound to come crashing down. While these tools were great in their own right, they lacked the consistency and accuracy needed to provide a single source of truth for reporting progress and optimising project efficiency.

Practically, this was allowing office-based teams to proactively plan Shift Records in advance. This means on-site teams are handed a Shift Record that's already 64% pre-filled, saving over 30 minutes per shift! Plus, the records are now more accurate and detailed than ever before.

Gone are the days of chasing down missing data and trying to decipher illegible handwriting. With auto-generated Shift Reports, the whole team is informed each morning of progress, and issues are automatically highlighted.

Balfour Beatty is no longer chasing the data but instead leveraging it to accelerate the delivery of their project.

In conclusion, Raildiary has provided Balfour Beatty with a streamlined solution for data capture and utilisation, resulting in improved stakeholder engagement and data-led project management. 

The implementation of Raildiary's SiteDiary platform has enabled the project team to capture and share high-quality data seamlessly, eliminating tedious processes and paperwork. 

Through the Raildiary Academy, Balfour Beatty's team members were able to learn how to use the platform effectively, empowering them with the tools they need to drive efficiencies and success in the project. 

With a consistent, reliable source of data, the Balfour Beatty team can now make informed decisions, identify opportunities for improvement, and streamline communication channels. 

Ultimately, Raildiary has helped Balfour Beatty to achieve collaboration and a common narrative across its projects, facilitating efficient and successful outcomes.