Paperless Construction App Supports Eurovia Contracting on the 116-year-old Vauxhall Bridge Refurbishment Project in Central London
Eurovia Contracting provides one-stop-shop engineering solutions across the UK, from feasibility and design through to Construction and maintenance, using best practice procurement and project management principles.
The company is committed to creating an environment that makes a lasting difference to environmental, social and economic sustainability. They adopt best environmental practice across their operations by reducing consumption of non-renewable resources, investing in green technology, materials and processes, and managing their carbon and water footprint for the benefit of future generations.
Eurovia Contracting began working on a design and build project to refurbish the top side of Vauxhall Bridge for Transport for London (TfL), with the preliminary design phase starting in October 2019. They went into the detailed design in the spring of 2020 with the building phase commencing in August the same year.
Constructed mainly of concrete and steel, the current Vauxhall Bridge is historically significant and is a Grade II listed structure. It was authorised by an Act of Parliament passed in 1895 and was the first bridge in London to carry a tramway - its predecessor was the first iron bridge erected over the Thames in London.
The project consisted of stripping the bridge back down to the concrete deck (parapet to parapet) carrying out concrete repairs to the deck section, improving drainage on the bridge (including additional attenuation by using in kerb drainage units) providing additional sections to the service trenches, reconstructing the footways, and water proofing and resurfacing the carriageway.
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This prestigious refurbishment project in central London was not without its challenges on several fronts.
In addition to the historical significance of the bridge, it is situated in a sensitive area of London at Albert Embankment, Vauxhall. This site's sensitivity made site access control a top priority, and Eurovia Contracting was acutely aware they had to ensure access control was robust enough only to allow authorised users onto the site.
Traceability was critical, and Eurovia Contracting had to know who was on-site at all times, for how long, their anticipated movements and location.
A directional closure over a main artery over the Thames, such as the Vauxhall Bridge, was a challenge that required precise planning,
as any unforeseen delays would have had severe consequences for stakeholders and road users alike. The "forensic" planning involved in a closure like this needs to be initiated months, if not years ahead of time.
Another challenge was that the refurbishment project took place amid the COVID-19 pandemic and Eurovia Contracting had to put a solution in place that complied with social distancing imperatives (minimum 2 metres) as well as minimising physical contact between employees whilst undertaking inductions, safety briefings, toolbox talks, permits and more.
Despite the many challenges involved in this project, planned deadlines had to be met, and constraints were extremely tight.
Eurovia Contracting turned to Paperless Construction's cloud-based compliance management software app to digitise time and attendance records and their health and safety processes to address some of these challenges.
By removing the need for paper-based health and safety training records and automating compliance management. The app's functionality meant paper could be eliminated almost entirely from the site, providing a cloud-based solution where records could be shared, accessed irrespective of location and providing accurate traceability to who is trained. This dovetailed precisely with Eurovia Contracting's commitment to environmental sustainability.
When interviewed, Eurovia Contracting's Operations Manager, Duncan Jenkins, summed up the situation before the Paperless Construction app was rolled out:
"When we were working with paper, we had daily briefings on a sheet of paper in the canteen, and the guys would come in, have a briefing with the Foreman and sign the document. There were ring binders of paper everywhere, making it very difficult to track compliance".
Duncan went on to say that the COVID-19 situation accelerated the uptake of the Paperless Construction app on the Vauxhall Bridge project and across Eurovia Contracting. Eurovia Contracting were always looking for digital solutions to remove the physical paper from the site, and the app left them with no excuses for not doing so.
He added, "Our ambition has always been for this project to be paperless. We have been looking to remove the paper from the project and the site. Eurovia Contracting’s roll out of Paperless Construction across the business has supported this ambition. The Vauxhall Bridge Project has been a flagship project for our business this year and therefore, for me, it was a prime opportunity to demonstrate being as close as possible paperless".
With Paperless Construction's all-in-one timekeeping, briefing and compliance management application, Eurovia Contracting had a robust access control solution to record the time and attendance of all workers and visitors entering the project. This provided Eurovia with the control needed to maintain site security.
All briefings were recorded on the same application, whether daily briefings, toolbox talks, permits or inductions, providing an instant audit trail of all their employees' competency and training records - putting their mind at rest that all employees on the project were trained, competent and well-rested.
Duncan Jenkins also summed up some of the major benefits the Paperless Construction app delivered to Eurovia Contracting, for example saying "because the tool is very intuitive and easy to use, uptake was quick and simple, with the team immediately seeing the benefits – which drove its use. Initial training was provided, and strengthened by Eurovia Contracting’s Digital Construction team".
"Prior to Paperless Construction, there was a risk of losing records; there was a risk of people not doing what they were supposed to do and not storing documents appropriately. But if that happens now, it's obvious to everyone because there's an immediate gaping hole in the audit trail.
For example, if a briefing does not happen, it's apparent that it hasn't taken place, and if people aren't signed into sites, management can see immediately via the web or the app that they're not signed in".
Duncan also explained that the completeness and quality of records overall had been improved. "Before the Paperless Construction app was rolled out, poor quality record-keeping could go unseen. For example, if someone didn't sign a piece of paper, it could easily go in the file and not be noticed, whereas with the app in place, you have a record that's live, visible, and transparent - it’s effortless to see who has done what, and when.
We clearly saved cost in terms of paper, printing, processing and storage. There was an investment in the hardware required, but that's a worthwhile one to take as we move further into a digital world".
And, as Duncan neatly summed it up, "I can sit in my office, log into Paperless and know immediately what is happening on the project. I can do it on my tablet or any device because it's synced across all devices. It's accessible from anywhere - all of which means we're achieving our digital objectives".
By deploying the Paperless Construction app on the Vauxhall Bridge Refurbishment Project, Eurovia Contracting achieved their paperless site objective and solved their strict access control and COVID-19 social distancing needs whilst also meeting their legal and contractual obligations.
"We clearly saved cost in terms of paper, printing, processing and storage, but the engagement and environmental benefits were the most rewarding. There was an investment in the hardware required, but that's a worthwhile one to take moving into a greener, digital world"
Duncan Jenkins - Operations Manager