Balfour Beatty has praised a new secure data collection platform as an ‘amazing development’ which has created seven-figure cost savings over 12 months on its Greater West electrification programme.

Called eviFile, the software as a service (SaaS) platform is believed to be the first in the world developed to adhere to the principles set out by the Home Office in The Association of Chief Police Officers’ (ACPO) digital evidence guidelines. These specifically reference digital forensic inspection and the levels of authenticity required for capturing data for submission as evidence in legal disputes.

Balfour Beatty is currently completing an overhead line electrification project between Bristol and Cardiff across 40 miles of track, as part of the £5.58bn Great Western route modernisation commissioned by Network Rail in 2010.

The tier one contractor introduced eviFile’s digital progressive assurance methodology to replace its paper-based approach and enhance efficiencies. The platform, which was configured to the contractor’s exact reporting processes, has enabled Balfour Beatty to speed up field data capture and transmission of quality information to field engineers, managers and Network Rail.

Balfour Beatty has also replaced thousands of paper records with automated electronic reports, as eviFile provides a clear and tamper-proof audit trail of quality referrals within the contractor’s inspection tests.

With the platform able to be integrated with other systems, completed inspection test plans are automatically uploaded to the Greater West programme’s database, saving further time and resource. eviFile also enables dashboard reports on request and highly detailed reports into individual areas, construction units and wire runs.

Commenting on the technology’s success, Balfour Beatty rail director of electrification delivery, Peter Webb, said: ‘We see mobile site-based technologies as a key way to gather richer data, faster and more cost efficiently. These marginal gains lead to significant efficiency savings, which our project with eviFile proves, as its use has enabled us to save seven figures in costs over a 12-month period.

‘The eviFile system is an amazing development and we’re extremely impressed with what the software delivers. It has streamlined our processes, reduced risk and given us actionable insights to deliver a higher quality project. Our field managers have also commented on the huge increase in productivity from not having to chase and collate data manually.’

Developed over an 18-month period, eviFile works via standard tablets and smartphones, enabling field operatives to use their device’s cameras and GPS capabilities to record inspection information. Every use is securely captured with information on time, date, geographical location, user and device orientation.

Managing director of Leeds-based eviFile, Luke Allen, added: ‘Rail is necessarily a highly risk averse sector, but eviFile meets and exceeds the levels of assurance and evidence major contractors are demanding. We were able to give Balfour Beatty a rigorous approach to site data capture and workflow improvements which saved time and money.

‘We understand the complexities of rail. Delivering new assets involves multiple activities, each of which requires quality inspection before the next starts. Our version of digital progressive assurance does this automatically, driving much of Balfour Beatty’s efficiency savings.

‘We can make a complete evidence pack within 10 seconds which could take months using traditional methods. Our tamper-proof digital evidence can also help contractors avoid costly legal disputes.’

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