Good morning, how can we help you?
Ab Drijver is Manager Commercial Affairs, Tender/Design Management at Strukton Rail.
He is perceiving a trend: clients have a need for solutions provided by a single party that is involved from the very beginning of a project. Strukton is the ideal partner in this regard, because it has all necessary disciplines in-house.
The traditional construction process roughly proceeds as follows: the client wants a hall, for example, and contacts an engineering firm. This firms designs the hall and supplies the drawings to the client. The client thanks the engineering firm and goes next door to a building contractor. This contractor subsequently starts working on the hall's construction. This all sounds logical and correct, but in actual practice there are all kinds of complications associated with this process. For example, as construction is underway, the client decides he wants a lift in the hall. Or the ground appears to be more polluted than originally thought. In short, conditions that result in cost items and delays.
Aside from all of these foreseeable and unforeseeable risks there is something else as well: what if the client does not exactly know what is needed? For example, the client knows that he wants to maintain electric locomotives in the new hall, that he wants room to replace the bogies of the locomotives and that it must be possible to perform maintenance on the wheels. In addition, tracks must be laid from the main track to the workshop. But how many tracks are required inside and outside the hall? How many switches? Are overhead lines required outside the hall or not? What are the safety criteria set by ProRail to allow the client to connect the tracks to the main network? Sometimes, the client has no idea.
Strukton has a wealth of in-house knowledge and experience to answer these questions. We are not only able to construct the track, the hall and the electrical installations, we are also able to provide advice on these topics. Well before the specifications are produced, at the very beginning of the process. And this is exactly what we did. The hall in the above-referenced example is the locomotive workshop that is currently springing up on the Maasvlakte in Rotterdam, under contract to Mitsui Rail Capital Europe (MRCE) and Siemens Mobility. MRCE leases locomotives manufactured by companies, such as Siemens Mobility, to rail transporters. The intent is for the freight train locomotives to be serviced and maintained 'on the job', so that they can be immediately redeployed to transport goods from the Port of Rotterdam to the European interior.
“There was a go/no-go point after each design. This way the client knew what he was saying 'yes' to each time”
From A to Z
We were involved in this project from the very beginning. There were as yet no specifications, only a list with approximately ten functional specifications. Since Strukton has all technical disciplines in-house to carry out this project from A to Z, we are able to optimally serve Siemens and MRCE. And this is how it happened. We held discussions with the client involving all technical disciplines, including civil engineering, construction, energy supply, track & rail, overhead lines, train safety, to name a few. We opted for early design involvement: we developed a pre-design, with cost estimates. This was followed by a go, which led to a final design and then an implementation design. There was a go/no-go point after each design, based on the design and costs. This meant that all of us, including the client, knew what the client was saying 'yes' to, after which we were able to work on the further details. This way we also assist in completing the business case.
Even without early design involvement, we can be involved in a project when the client only has an idea in mind and nothing has as yet been committed to paper. This is because the core of our approach is to take the weight off the client's shoulders. At Strukton we are well-positioned to do this, because we have all required disciplines in-house. Due to our early involvement, the project has a very low risk profile. And the risks that are there, are manageable. In my view many clients have a great need for this method of working, since several colleagues have approached me over a very short period of time to tell me that their clients are interested in this approach.
“The core of our approach: Strukton takes the weight off the client's shoulders”
Open for business eighteen months sooner
Aside from the fact that it is beneficial for the client to have control over the project and that the chance of all kinds of unpleasant surprises is small, there is another benefit inherent to this method: time savings. Let me use the workshop in Rotterdam again as an example. When a client decides that he wants a workshop like this, it normally takes three and a half years before a technician is working on the first locomotive in this workshop. We have now reduced this time to two years. For example, we already ordered components with long delivery times during the design phase, of course with the client's approval. We also applied for permits during that time. Normally, this is only done during the construction phase. Instead, we actually already started working on this during the design phase. The workshop needs to be open by 1 September 2019, which is over eighteen months earlier than is usual for this type of project. A great project, a short completion time and a satisfied client. It is what you would call a win-win-win situation.