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Costain Short Listed For Industry Award

4 May 2011

Costain has been short listed for a Construction News Award for the ‘Best Use of Technology’ in the new deployment of a computer application that saves time and money on large projects.

The application, called Oracle Primavera P6 Enterprise, or P6 for short, allows for more effective planning of complex projects by letting the project team share access to, and development of, the programme and then communicate the results to the whole team. The ’Enterprise’ part means that all planning is carried out in a central database, and that anyone can be given access to the programme for any project from anywhere, via the Internet. Additionally, this shared access enables direct support of users to communicate best practice methods of using P6.

"There is a growing need to be able to create an overall project programme that directly incorporates the work of all the parties involved, especially when producing an integrated design and construction programme,” said Phil Budden, the Costain engineer responsible for deploying P6.

Just a few years ago, project and planning teams operated in isolation of each other. Programmes were developed on a stand-alone basis, whereby individual solutions were created for individual problems.  While this approach has served Costain well, it was difficult to manage a large-scale project with multiple planners, potentially based in various locations. It also created problems if, in a joint venture with different companies, culture and indeed applications, teams had varying ways of working and problem solving.

"The ‘old’ way produced inconsistent results that took a lot of effort to manage, especially at handover on Contract award,” said Budden.

There was therefore a growing need for an integrated design and construction programme that incorporated a best practice approach, as well as including input from key supply chain partners and, where the planning for the entire project can be carried out in one place, be visible to anyone in the team, from anywhere.

An early example where the programme was used to great effect was for the Highways Agency at Junction 1 on the M25, at Dartford.  Significant time was saved when the client agreed to dramatically change the programme sequence after work had already started, which saved five months on the overall duration of the project.

Budden said achieving this was significantly assisted through both the project team and the client sharing access to the programme, which allowed all parties to understand the proposed changes quickly enough to make a timely decision.

"What we’ve done is exploit an existing product in a new way that adds significant additional benefits to the business,” said Budden, adding that P6 is now being used as an essential tool on a large majority of the projects that Costain is currently working on.

"Combining our Enterprise Planning System and using it to support our shared best practice has enabled a step change in the way we work to deliver our construction planning and has significantly improved project delivery to our clients,” Budden said.