Systems Connect, the Line-wide contractor involved in extending the existing Sydney Metro, uses Relatics. The Relatics system is helping to manage large volumes of complex, but vital project information, needed for a working railway to be built safely, efficiently and according to design specifications.
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 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 Line-wide work, Systems Connect collaborates with all stakeholders, including with multiple other key interface contractors. Given the multitude of stakeholder interfaces, good communication and effective exchange of reliable project information is essential.
Project Information Management Complexity
The volume of information needing management in the delivery of Sydney Metro City & Southwest is immense. Adding to the management complexity, is ensuring information traceability.
Too often on large construction projects, information is stored on numerous systems, compromising efficiency, accuracy and ultimately, reliability of data. There can be multiple versions of varying formats of documenting information, from spreadsheets and various project management tools to written documents and even emails. Information and document management can become difficult to manage, leading to miscommunication and errors, which can result in delays and cost overruns.
On a project of this scale all parties internally and externally need quick and easy access to consistent and up-to-date information they can rely on. Systems Connect Interface Systems Manager said:
“To improve information management, we decided to mandate the use of Relatics. Relatics provides a single source of truth for all contractors and other key stakeholders who contribute to and use the system. It’s our project management information interface.”
At Systems Connect, Relatics is used to support things like interparty design interfaces, actions, hazards, critical issues notes and their escalation, as well as stakeholder management.
Relatics is a full service, SaaS provider. Outputs from Relatics include the automation of detailed interface specifications and information exchange reports. All data is managed securely throughout project delivery and is safely archived by Systems Connect on conclusion of work.
Artist’s impression of Sydney Metro Campsie Station. Source: https://sydneymetro.info/
Data-Driven Project Management
Systems Connect selected Relatics for Sydney Metro City & Southwest back in 2019. Since then, it has been used to great effect. Hundreds of people across the project now have substantial experience with the platform and recognize that it’s much more than a document repository or spreadsheet package. Even die-hard spreadsheet lovers have been won over, says the Interface Systems Manager, since really complex project spreadsheets are a pain for everyone.
“Relatics extracts information from input documents and stores it semantically and hierarchically as data, enabling a complete and holistic view of the project. You can drill down to the most detailed data elements of projects you’re managing and see everything related to your needs, or explore the tiers to view the bigger picture and dashboards.”
– Interface Systems Managers at Systems Connect
Information is available in real-time. The moment anything is added or changed, all related project elements are instantly updated. This ensures project data is always current. Time isn’t wasted searching for the latest document versions and information isn’t missed or overlooked through human error. Importantly for Systems Connect, Relatics also shows when, and by whom the information was updated.
Dashboards and progress charts are also updated immediately when new data is captured, meaning leaders can trust reports and make decisions with greater confidence. Data can also be interrogated as and when required, versus the challenge of doing it the old way by attempting to draw insight from multiple documents.
Systems Connect’s team like that Relatics is customizable. It is unlikely that a standard off-the-shelf information system could have met user requirements for a large and complex project like Sydney Metro City & Southwest.
“A great thing about Relatics is that you can start simply, modifying the platform to your needs as the project and information interface requirements evolves. One of my roles as project information interface lead is to adjust our set-up as required to capture the right information and present it in the formats required by multiple users including our team, other contractors and the client.”
As Sydney Metro City & Southwest has progressed, Systems Connect has shared the platform with other contractors delivering the project to improve collaboration in information management. Other contractors delivering the project have welcomed the idea of a centralized, data-driven approach instead of a document-based system as it makes life a great deal easier for everyone. Relatics is pretty intuitive and the user interface is consistent throughout, which makes learning easy. If anyone needs training, a 30-minute introduction is usually all that’s required.
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 outcomes.
System Connect’s System Interface Manager explained that large projects he’d worked on with previous employers were usually document driven, which led to various frustrations.
“The data driven approach here at Systems Connect is a much more effective way of working, because information is easily accessed, up-to-date, complete and accurate” he said. “Interrelated data, even though drawn from disparate sources, is combined to allow better informed decisions.”
“With Relatics, we can be confident we’re sharing the right information at the right time with the right people. We don’t have to spend time searching for updates or sifting through multiple documents for a specific piece of information. We don’t have to worry about version control or physically serving other contractors with documents.”
Finally, he said: “The bottom line is that we always know where we’re at on the project without having to wait for, check or chase up information. We can easily see exactly what progress has been made from one week to the next, we don’t need to approximate. We make better decisions. We’re more in control.”