The RijnlandRoute is a new road connection between Katwijk, via the A44 and the A4 near Leiden, resolving current bottlenecks and guaranteeing traffic flow in the Holland Rijnland region. The use of Relatics helps all parties involved to be well-informed and aligned at all times and deliver the project on schedule, verified, validated, and within constraints.
The contractor combination Comol5 is assigned by the client, the Province of South-Holland in cooperation with the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, and other partners to design, build, and maintain the main part of the RijnlandRoute.
Comol5 is an international partnership between Dutch TBI companies Mobilis and Croonwolter&dros, French VINCI Construction Grands Projets, and Belgian DEME Infra Marine Contractors. The consortium is specialized in building infrastructure, tunnels in particular. Comol5 is responsible for the conversion of the Leiden-West junction, which is the construction of the new N434 with a bored tunnel and the modifications to the A4 and A44. This 500-million-euro project is to be completed by 2023. After which Comol5 will be responsible for the 15-year maintenance of the N434.
At the time of writing this article, two of the three RijnlandRoute projects are in progress. In addition to the work of Comol5, the project N206 ir. G. Tjalmaweg is being realized by Boskalis. The third project of the RijnlandRoute, the N206 Europaweg, is still in preparation.
International digital work environment
Comol5 needs to be able to control all aspects of the project from initial start until delivery and throughout the maintenance phase. There is a great deal of complexity in managing the huge volume of documents, forms, drawings, requirements, and all changes made throughout the project life cycle. Relatics plays a central role in managing this information.
“International projects can be complex and challenging due to the number of different interfaces and cultural differences. In former international projects, the heavy paperwork weighed on efficiency and overview of information. Multidisciplinary infrastructure projects are more and more about good coordination, cooperation and communication, and Relatics supports that”, says Raphaël Lassaux, project coordinator at VINCI, the partner in Comol5 that is specialized in tunnel construction. “The RijnlandRoute project is my first experience with Relatics. I find the always-available digital work environment much more workable than the traditional document-based environment, especially when it comes to communication between different departments.”
Relatics supports the implementation of procedures and processes for design, verification and validation, inspection and testing, risk management, and accreditations such as ISO and VCA for the RijnlandRoute. The cloud-based application forms the backbone of all activities carried out in the project. This by enabling all parties involved, contractors and clients, to support change management and continuously work on a centralized source of project information. During the project, over 130 people keep track of information with Relatics.
A grip on validation
Maikel Balster, Verification and Validation Manager Technical Installations RijnlandRoute at the Province of South Holland, says:
“As a client, we have formulated contract requirements that we need to have verified to ensure we are doing things right, the ‘how’. In addition, we have to keep track of whether we are still doing the right thing, the ‘what’. That’s validation. Relatics is a very versatile tool that contains a lot of information, making critical documents, milestones, and decision-making transparent. In the tailor-made dashboard we can easily check statuses and report back to management and other stakeholders.”
Balster continues: “For example: the tunnel safety officer has formulated approximately 1.600 safety related framework questions. Traditionally, these are managed in Excel, but Comol5 manages them in Relatics. The framework questions are related to the matching contract requirement. If the contract requirement is fulfilled, the framework question also has been answered. Because these mutual relationships are clearly visible in Relatics, a lot of time is saved, and we can work together unambiguously and consistently.”
As a Process Engineer at Mobilis, Michiel Loonen is responsible for supporting the System Engineering processes within Comol5. Loonen says:
“For my role, Relatics is particularly important for process support to be compliant – the verification.”
“The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management lays down the functional requirements in a contract and the contractor drafts a design that suits this. Then, the contractor starts building, matching the design and matching the contract. As Comol5, we must demonstrate that what we build meets all the requirements of the design – and therefore of the contract. Relatics plays a crucial role in these transparent and traceable compliance procedures.”
Loonen continues: “For example: for the tunnel technical installations alone there are about 3.000 requirements, extracted from various documents. These are all processed into Relatics. There are general requirements that recur individually for each installation and must therefore also be checked separately. In order to do this as explicit and efficient as possible, and to be able to have it checked by the client again, we need traceability of what has been done, what has been checked and what requirements have been verified. Over and over: explicitly recorded, and traceable.”
Flexibility and user friendliness
Relatics supports various forms of information, therefore the user interface is well thought through so all types of information are presented in the same uniform way. This predictability greatly contributes to the acceptance and understanding of the tool and processes. Thanks to the flexibility, the project workspace can have a completely unique project-specific identity.
Mobilis provided its company-wide Relatics template (‘Mobilizer’) to use as a starting point for the consortium. The Mobilis template was then tailored to meet the project-specific needs, increasing user adoption and providing insight into the project on the project-specific topics.
“The advantage of a customizable template is that you can set it up in a way that the project professionals are already familiar with, so that the support base is higher. Common language ensures faster acceptance. Without this template, Relatics – or any other work environment that is new to people – may cause hesitation among users”, says Maikel Balster. “Of course, people need to add information to Relatics themselves, and we had to encourage them to do that at first, but this is just a mindset.
“Everyone understands the need for such tooling nowadays because one simply cannot do without it during complex projects, and the Relatics configuration of COMOL5 is very intuitive to work with.”
– Maikel Balster, Verification and Validation Manager Technical Installations RijnlandRoute
With Relatics, project members can manage their requirements, verifications, tests, risks, tasks, and all related project elements in a coherent network of explicitly described information. Relatics frees the project from numerous spreadsheets and isolated applications to store information.
Balster is clear about the benefits and results: “The added value lies in having information unambiguous and consistent. This saves time and irritation, but more importantly, it improves the quality of our cooperation and thus the outcome. I dare to say that failure costs have decreased significantly. Thanks to better interaction between client and contractor we have saved time and therefore costs. Moreover, we were able to inform and engage stakeholders appropriately and proactively at a very early stage. This strengthens support and ensures a timely opening, according to plan, quality, and budget. This is cost-effective for the Province of South Holland, manageable for the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, and minimizes inconveniences for various stakeholders involved.”
As a project coordinator, Lassaux sees many advantages as well:
“When sharing information via email, you sometimes forget to add people in cc. With Relatics, everyone is always informed, and all information is collected and stored in a central location. I see the greatest advantage in the field of risk management, technical design, and managing deviations. Working with Relatics definitely has my preference over working with document-oriented tools, I would recommend it for sure.”
“Without an intelligent information system such as Relatics, it is virtually impossible to keep track of all the information related to requirements, verifications, deviations, etc. This can lead to failure costs, among other things. In the construction sector failure costs can amount to as much as 5-10% of the total annual turnover”, Loonen states. “The decision to engage in very explicit information management on a project naturally generates extra work for some project members. And therefore, costs money. Ultimately, however, Relatics enables us to gain better insight into and control over our processes. And that provides vital insight to take action to reduce failure costs on the project. Moreover, using the Relatics template of Mobilis as a foundation for our projects helps us to better respond to current and future market demand. I wouldn’t want it any different”, Loonen concludes.