Systems Connect, the Line-wide contractor involved in the extension of Sydney Metro, runs Relatics to manage interfaces, share large volumes of vital project information with partners and report in real-time on project status to the client.
Sydney Metro is Australia’s biggest public transport project. Services started in May 2019 in the city’s North West with a train every four minutes in the peak. Metro rail will be extended into the Central Business District (CBD) and beyond to Bankstown in 2024. In 2024, Sydney will have 31 metro railway stations and a 66 km standalone metro railway system. There will be ultimate capacity for a metro train every two minutes in each direction under the Sydney city center.
Systems Connect (an unincorporated joint venture between CPB Contractors and UGL Limited) is delivering Line-wide work including installing metro rail track, power systems, communications, signalling systems, and infrastructure to turn the excavated tunnels into a working railway between Chatswood and Sydenham. Line-wide work also includes the permanent systems, services and buildings required for Sydney Metro operations between Chatswood and Bankstown.
In delivering the project, Systems Connect collaborates with all stakeholders, including over twelve other key interface contractors. Good communication as well as effective exchange of reliable project information is vital to delivering the project safely, on time, and to specification.
Project information management challenge
“We’re responsible for the design and construction of much of the in-tunnel work. While other key contractors are responsible for the station fit-out, smart infrastructure, the rolling stock and various other critical components,” said Quentin Chevalier, the Systems Integration Manager at Systems Connect. “On a project as big as this, with so many parties involved, getting things right involves many interface agreements, systems integrations and a high level of coordination.”
The interface and integration team leads coordination of single ‘A-to-B’ party interfaces as well as the complexity presented by multiple systems interfaces. Along with interface contractors, the Systems Connect team needs access to information drawn from thousands of construction drawings, work scope specifications and demarcations, authorizations, scheduling plans, hazard reports and more.
Engineers everywhere love to throw together a spreadsheet to capture and share data. But on large projects with multiple contributors, multiple interfaces and numerous data sources, managing everything in Excel efficiently is next to impossible. Engineers don’t trust the data. They find themselves double-checking it, seeking confirmation, looking for documents and waiting on people for updates.
Chevalier knew that a central repository for project information was needed. The solution had to be one that everybody could access online for immediate transparency into each party’s interface work. Systems Connect prescribed that the system would need to track who changes what, when and why, so that the integrity of the information could be assured.
The platform would also need to be easy to use, offer an intuitive graphical user interface and be highly customizable.
“In our list of requirements for a project information management solution, the ability to customize it to suit our processes was an absolute must. Big infrastructure projects like the Sydney Metro extension present unique challenges and a software vendor’s project management template simply wasn’t enough.”
– Quentin Chevalier, Systems Integration Manager at Systems Connect.
Relatics is the answer
Systems Connect set out to find the optimal information management tool. Following a tender process and having considered various options, Systems Connect selected Relatics.
“Relatics as a company and as a platform impressed us,” said Chevalier. “It’s a really powerful tool with which you can build processes suggested by Relatics or bespoke solutions to suit your own needs. Importantly, in Relatics you can add and update processes over time as the project evolves.”
Once Systems Connect committed to Relatics, it took just a few weeks to create a concept information management system together and then a viable version that could be deployed. From there, Systems Connect has continued to craft and customize the information model and interfaces to meet its needs.
“Relatics has been a great success for us here at Systems Connect. From the initial requirement to help us manage Sydney Metro project interfaces, we now also use Relatics for stakeholder information management, safety assurance and interface hazards, issue management and more.”
– Quentin Chevalier, Systems Integration Manager at Systems Connect.
Chevalier says he’s been impressed by the attitude of the people at Relatics. As a SaaS provider, Relatics is always there to support Systems Connect to configure and customize the platform as required.
“As our confidence in Relatics has grown and we’ve extended its use, we’ve also integrated it with Microsoft Power BI for data visualization, graphical reporting and dashboards. We are also making plans to link it up with Oracle’s Primavera P6 project management planning software and with our document management system, TeamBinder.”
Systems Connect has around 30 core users of Relatics, which are typically interface engineers, who make frequent use of it as they collaborate with partners to define and write physical and functional interfaces and agree demarcations. There are also another 180 casual users, who hop in and out to look up information, such as a specification, when needed.
Victoria Cross aerial view. Source: https://sydneymetro.info/
Systems Connect is confident Relatics is bringing significant information management benefits. These extend from more efficient information access and exchanges to smooth interactions between parties, better project control and better outcomes.
“With Relatics, interface documents and data are easily accessible in one place, structured, linked and presented holistically,” said Chevalier. “Our engineers, partners and client can see the complete big picture and drill into areas for any detail, without searching for and assembling multiple bits of an information puzzle.”
“Everyone knows that they can trust the information drawn from Relatics and base key decisions on it. Users can trace document version history if they wish to, check how specifications developed over time and verify any edits.”
From a strategic management perspective, multiple contractor collaboration on multibillion-dollar infrastructure projects can be fraught with difficulty, risking outcomes. But Chevalier is confident Systems Connect has got it right.
“With Relatics we have a tool that enables big project collaboration to work,” he says. “We all know what we’ve agreed to on interface work with regard to who is doing what, when, how and where. So, it is working like clockwork.”
Finally, the ultimate beneficiary is the client.
“Our client, Sydney Metro, can see in real time exactly where we’re at with our progress on interface work and any issues,” concluded Quentin. “There is complete transparency, which helps to build trust and ensure successful delivery.”