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InnoTrans Blog

Infrastructure provides the basis

November 2021

Simple and efficient: planning with the help of coloured overviews. Photo: Drees & Sommer SE

The capacity of rail transport is to be increased worldwide in the coming years. This means that highly automated processes for track construction and maintenance, but also technologies which simplify planning and construction or lead to an extended service life of individual components with at least the same level of safety, will become even more important in the future.

Agile project management for railway infrastructure

Construction projects for railway infrastructure have traditionally been subject to time pressure. The overriding goal is to achieve the planned deadlines for commissioning. Two innovative management approaches provide relief. Infrastructure operators and clients always have the same common priorities. They need the planned construction tasks to be implemented within a tight and unalterable time window, and to achieve a transparent planning process for all project partners. Drees & Sommer SE, an internationally active consulting, planning and project management company with headquarters in Stuttgart, provides a solution by means of two innovative management approaches: Agile Design Manage- ment (ADM) and Lean Site Management (LSM), as well as other tools. ADM aims at cross-disciplinary and cross-team cooperation and involves the planning specialists at an early stage of planning. At the same time, the creative solution process is obstructed by as few rules as possible. LSM transfers the principle of lean processes that is used in industrial production to the building process: standardisation, preproduction – but also building site logistics – are all important factors. Despite specific procedures in different projects, there are clear control processes for both approaches.

Methods that also work in a digital and interactive way

These two management methods are essentially based on an early and combined overall process analysis and process planning and their outcome is a transparent overall follow-up of the construction process on a weekly basis. The process is visualised to serve as a basis for tracking and controlling the work packages in a closely timed manner. It is often quite challenging to have the agile methods accepted at the start of a project. To this end, Drees & Sommer communicates with the teams at an early stage. The “LCM Digital”, devel- oped by the experts in lean processes, allows the processes to be applied in a fully digital and interactive way.

Successful application in major railway projects

Drees & Sommer uses agile management methods in numerous major projects in the public transport sector, such as the railway station projects “B-Level Frankfurt Central Station” or the redevelopment of the “Zoologischer Garten Station” in Berlin. The company also successfully applies them in large-scale projects for the new construction and expansion of railway networks or in public transport, such as in the local transport system in Jena, Germany. The use of ADM and LSM achieves a high level of transparency and an early identification of problems. It focuses on critical processes for the success of a project. This allows projects to be carried out up to 30 per cent faster without additional costs. At the same time, the teamwork leads to a reduction in obstructions and stabilises the processes – ensuring that more than 90 percent of deadlines are respected. When infrastructure projects present very ambitious delivery schedules, agile management methods are therefore the most appropriate tool to reliably achieve the project targets.