Innovation Brings Benefits to Paddington

16 April 2014

The Costain Skanska Joint Venture (CSJV) working on the new Crossrail Paddington Station in central London has embraced a culture of innovation.

Through Costain’s Engineering Tomorrow strategy and Crossrail’s Innovation Programme, the project team has implemented a number of innovative solutions which are transforming the delivery of the project. Engineering Tomorrow is Costain’s commitment to identifying, developing and implementing innovative solutions to meet the UK’s major national infrastructure needs.

At its heart is an emphasis on sharing knowledge and applying best practice, not just within Costain and on individual projects but right across the supply chain. At the new £250 million Crossrail Paddington Station, where CSJV has worked since April 2012, there are as many as 15 contracting companies and at least 250 people working on site at any one time, many with competing and complementary skills. With such a wealth of knowledge and experience, the site is a melting pot of potential ideas and, while uniting a large team behind a set of shared values takes time, the benefits - for the team and for the project – have been rewarding.

“Spreading the culture of innovation has made a big difference to the project, not least in bringing the supply chain together. The importance of involving the supply chain cannot be stressed enough because the results have been fantastic. At Paddington we’ve generated over 40 innovative ideas from our meetings,” said Vick Thevendran, the Project Director.

Some of the innovations include using a 3D PDF reader which allows users to view, rotate, walk-through and measure 3D model data; an innovative wind alert system; a vibration screen which provides real time monitoring of heavy civils works and high risk deconstruction work on projects that work in close proximity to heritage buildings; and from the VVB/SRW joint venture, a light fitting, for use in the concourse, was produced by a member of their supply chain, 4D Lighting, which allowed the team to visualise the finished product prior to any mock ups being made or orders placed.

“A great deal of effort has been made to foster a willingness to innovate and improve through the Innovation Programme.  By creating specific working groups, the whole project team, from the customer to the supply chain, is able to come up with relevant and practical solutions that help drive improvements in targeted areas,” said Vick.

Crossrail Paddington Station is just one part of Crossrail’s £14.8 billion programme of works to create a new 118km (72 mile) railway link between Maidenhead to the west of London and Abbey Wood and Shenfield to the east.

The new Paddington station will be 260 metres long, 30 metres wide and 30 metres deep and will provide step-free access to platform level, along with an interchange with National Rail and London Underground. Due to its busy central London location, the team has faced a number of complex engineering and construction problems. Being able to share knowledge across the project was identified as a powerful tool to help overcome those problems.

During designated meetings, participants combine their skills and discuss potential solutions to problems, with incentives given for the full implementation of any idea that comes to fruition. To date, Paddington has held two successful ‘lunch and learn’ sessions with Byrne Bros and Skanska- Rashleigh-Weatherfoil/VVB with plans to hold the next session with the utilities contractors.

“We were set the challenge of driving innovation on our project with the aim of improving operational efficiency. To achieve this, we engaged with the whole supply chain and successfully organised a number of workshops. By changing the word ‘innovation’ to ‘what can we do to work better’ really helped the culture of innovation to thrive, and by involving the whole supply chain, we broke down communication barriers which empowered people to make a difference,” said Jasdeep Dale, Paddington’s Innovation Coordinator.

Crossrail’s goal is to construct not just a world class rail link but to also encourage an overall improvement in the performance of the UK construction industry. Crossrail’s assessments measure inputs and outputs on each major contract across six key areas: Health and Safety; Quality (of process and product); Commercial; Community Relations; Social Sustainability and Environment, and improvements have been seen across the board.

“Each department - from Commercial and Quality to Health and Safety - has benefited from Engineering Tomorrow and Crossrail’s Innovation programme. The impact innovation has had on the main construction works and how we engineer difficult tasks on a daily basis has been instrumental in helping us to deliver the programme,” said Vick.