In Complex Systems, Added Value Is Found Beyond The Project Horizon

A project to upgrade HV cables and substations on a stretch of the rail network can seem like a complex undertaking in its own right. There are more than enough project risks and variables to encourage a project-centric approach to delivery – which is what the industry has historically done.

In the case of Electrification and Plant (E&P), the systems we upgrade and maintain run alongside and under rail lines, through cuttings, embankments, crossings and bridges. They don’t exist in isolation – they are an integral part of a complex rail system.

And with complex systems, you need programme management in addition to effective control over individual projects. This approach avoids waste, miscommunication and duplicated effort.

Process Integration and Added Value

To use automotive manufacturing as an analogy, the installation of a vehicle’s electrical system is integrated with the overall assembly process to achieve maximum efficiency – it’s not an isolated activity.

With a programme management approach we can integrate E&P works with civils and other initiatives such as station improvements. We avoid doing the equivalent of handing over a finished vehicle body, complete with interior trims and saying: ‘now install the electrical cabling, control units and sensors.’

Historically, electrification and plant works have been procured and delivered with a project-centric mindset.  Many projects have been delivered ‘successfully’ within that narrower frame of reference. But how many opportunities to rationalize activities, save money and reduce overall disruption have been missed in the process?

The Network Rail Capital Delivery Southern Multi-Discipline Framework (SMDF) represents the way forward. It expands the traditional scope for Control Period 6 (CP6) to include E&P renewals and enhancements. This approach to contracting is a perfect fit for Osborne’s programme management approach that takes full account of the complexities of the modern rail network.

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