Developing relationships across the rail industry

Developing relationships across the rail industry

Collaborating to master complexity

Our previous articles have focussed on early collaboration for environmental input, design deliverables and ongoing renewals and maintenance. All of which play a vital role in designing a project to meet client expectations and project outcomes. However, much of this collaborative effort is with internal teams from both the client and professional services vendor.

In this article, we look at how collaboration for constructability, outside of the internal working group, is often necessary to achieve a best for project solution. Calibre’s Stephen Hand is helping streamline the process between engineering and deliverable constructability. It’s recognising that the client’s scope of work and the subsequent design on paper also needs to be built within the conditions and environment in which it sits, as well as providing the long-term solutions the client is looking for. Here Stephen provides insight on how developing relationships with external and overseas suppliers is bringing better methodology to heavy-haul rail design.

Demonstrating expertise through external collaboration

When it comes to successfully delivering projects, there are usually engineering discipline and subject matter experts, on both teams. But looking external to these organisations and sourcing information has its advantages.

One of the keys to Calibre’s project success in heavy-haul rail has been the early inclusion of procurement and supply chain teams to identify what’s available in the marketplace.

As Stephen explains, “Aligning resources in the marketplace allows you to bring specific industry knowledge to the project. As these guys will need to deliver the engineering output, it’s often advantageous to give some broad details and get a better idea of what is both available and possible.”

And a single supplier may not be the best option for the best result.

As Calibre’s collaborative approach to delivery looks at the project lifecycle, the data captured throughout provides solid information to develop a best for project solution. While one supplier may be able to deliver a single stage, they may not be the best option for the project duration. Having strong collaborations within the supply chain allows Calibre to bring two or three suppliers together for the best project outcome.

Building relationships to become the authority

So, how does the team at Calibre begin to foster these relationships and take advantage of them for future projects? There are three main opportunities:

  1. Providing mentorship with senior members of project teams. Knowledge transfer isn’t just about lessons learned. Anyone who’s been in the industry for a while often has a solid contact list and can provide necessary introductions to key people.
  2. Looking closely at what is happening in the industry locally. Some of the best tunnelling and rail projects in the world are happening right here in Australia and the project partners are bringing with them international knowledge and experience. As Stephen explains, “While Australia has a good understanding of rail, more research and technology is developed in Europe and Asia as they have more established and comprehensive rail networks. Supply chain providers have access to products that have been used successfully for a number of years overseas but are new to the Australian market and are now being introduced.”
  3. Becoming members of rail organisations and taking part in online conferences and peer to peer networking. “The pandemic has created greater opportunities for Australians to expand their network of international supplier experts, thanks to conferences moving online. Where once the cost of travelling to Europe to attend a conference would have been prohibitive, online conferences are providing great opportunities to make direct contact with speakers and suppliers about new products.”

How identifying failure develops trust and a means to success

Calibre’s clients come to them with a concept of what they want for their project. It’s Calibre’s role to then undertake the optioning process based on information from the subject matter experts, including constructability and buildability, and ask the usual questions: Does this meet the brief? How does this impact the environment? What is the costing? What is the local schedule?

But project success also depends on asking the questions that nobody likes to think about. What is the fatal flaw of this? How can the project fail if it proceeds with these particular options?

By collaborating early in the project, and sourcing data from internal parties and external suppliers, better decisions are made that allow the engineering process to begin from a better understanding. When you’ve already identified options such as best route, team, technology, methodology and materials, the high-end engineering isn’t being done on multiple options. This in turn allows for a more in-depth analysis of what can fail and have it designed out, within the same timeframe.

Successful collaboration is being prepared to listen

Calibre’s success in project delivery can be attributed to the way they execute their projects. By listening to the needs and wants of their clients, they understand what is to be achieved. By listening to the project experts, they know where their strengths lie. By building relationships with external suppliers, they’re able to offer project solutions.

And when all three come together, Calibre shows just how successful collaboration can master the complexity of any project.

For more information contact Stephen Hand or Nigel Johnson


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Monique Roberts

General Manager – Marketing & Communications

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