WorkfloPlus in the Rail Sector
by Hannah Bailey, Business Development Director, Intoware Ltd
It is often said that digitisation in the rail sector lags behind that of other sectors. However, over the course of almost a decade I have witnessed first-hand an industry that is increasingly engaging with means to identify and deploy innovative technologies and digital solutions to its ongoing problems.
Naturally, the rail industry faces many of its own challenges when it comes to the adoption of digitally transformative tools. Like many organisations who were forced to reevaluate their working processes and take advantage of the mobiles and tablets used by their disparate workforce during the pandemic, the rail industry continues to accelerate and determine how it can both revolutionise and digitise its processes to accommodate an increasingly more digitally engaged workforce.
As an industry entrenched in paper for operational tasks and data capture, many companies, including Network Rail are now seeing the benefits of banishing paper entirely and making the move towards process digitisation.
In 2020, Network Rail R&D and the Central Rail System Alliance (CRSA) approached Intoware to partner on a supported field trial as data on their track renewal processes was not being fully captured and used efficiently across the business. The aim was to digitise critical data reporting processes used by Network Rail’s frontline teams having identified several on-going challenges including; the risk of slips, trips and falls on site, time lags in receiving reports and data, incomplete asset intelligence, repeat site visits and poor data capture.
Using WorkfloPlus, Network Rail started to digitise a series of legacy paper-based renewal activities. This meant working closely with the Aston depot’s teams on the ground, to fully understand their current activities and challenges to then design, digitise and standardise workflows to meet existing requirements and to deliver time, safety and sustainability benefits.
The results gathered from the trial provided sufficient evidence back to the business to support the projected value and ROI digitisation would provide, delivering efficiencies of up to 70% and with significant track safety improvements and compliance issues addressed. The trial's success has since paved the way for future digitised processes and deployment across their frontline teams, converting Asset Management Forms (AMP), site walkouts, wire run inspections and other works delivery processes into a growing library of accessible digital workflows.
Empowering staff in the rail sector to operate more digitally, not only improves employee engagement and attract future talent, but also provides a more modern working environment by enabling entire work forces to connect and solve issues quicker and more effectively. The appetite for change and adoption of digital tools such as WorkfloPlus to provide this more interactive way of working is rapidly gaining momentum across the sector. Our most recent use case saw digital workflows integrated with the latest in drone technology to increase worker safety. Discussions around initial trials, proof of concepts and identifying suitable business use cases, are now changing to how quick deployment and Business As Usual (BAU) can be achieved.
With immersive technologies and digital enablement still very much a senior management discussion point and continuing to be prominent on businesses digital strategies and event agendas for 2023, transitioning from paper to digital is a quick and easy step forward to enabling rail’s workforce to accelerate the industry’s vision toward digital transformation.