Innovation On Major Road Scheme

8 May 2012

A Costain graduate has developed a radical new way of working and underlined his Company’s major drive on innovation.

While working as a Site Engineer on the award winning £90million Church Village Bypass Scheme, for Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, James Bulleid noticed that an electronic tagging system could potentially save valuable time and effort in the cataloguing and tracking of plant equipment and tools.

“Having studied a module in supply chain management at university I was aware that a technology called radio frequency identification (RFID) was used in the food industry to track stock as it moved between depots, and  I thought there must be similarities between the logistical nature of the food industry and the challenges we face in construction,” said James.

James spoke with Barry Woodman, his Project Manager on Church Village, about a range of ideas from tracking bulk deliveries to locating small hand tools using tracking technology, and about how RFID could be successfully implemented.

“James’ enthusiasm and persistence was crucial in us adopting the RFID technology. It has allowed us to have more control over our on-site plant and equipment which has contributed strongly to a best practise approach in how we manage that equipment,” said Barry.

James met with Bill Hewlett, Costain’s Technical Director, and Tim Embley, Costain’s Group Innovation and Knowledge Manager, who helped to define the business case for the innovation, as well as offer advice on seeking further information in bringing the idea to fruition.

With the support of the team, James refined the initial concept of applying RFID to construction into a stores management system with a detailed plan and business case outlining the return on investment. 

Lance Woodman, a Stores Assistant on the Church Village project, commended the innovation, which has reduced the amount of paperwork required to process information and the time spent sourcing equipment.

“It used to be endless form filling but now we simply go to the website, download the data and it’s right there in front of us.  This has proved that the technology does work once you get people sufficiently comfortable with using it and I believe there’s scope to expand it right across the business,” said Lance.

The refined RFID innovation was used on the Church Village Bypass and has subsequently been transferred to the Port Talbot Harbour Way project.

Commenting, Tim Embley, said: “James has demonstrated all the skills to successfully implement innovation and add value to the services we deliver to our customers and I’m pleased to say I see this determination and drive for innovation right across our business.” 

Bill Hewlett added: “We are transforming Costain to provide our customers with game changing technical solutions.  James’s story reflects the importance of innovation in our businesses and how we, as a Group, can provide valuable guidance and support in how to progress an idea.”