Van Elle – HoleBASE SI & Template Studio

A new streamlined approach to handling geotechnical data from railway investigations is bringing significant benefits to Van Elle and Network Rail.

Like many large client bodies, Network Rail has its own processes to which the supply chain must adhere. When it comes to geotechnical data, that involves delivering logs, legends, sections and reports using its own templates.

Geotechnical contractor Van Elle provides a range of ground engineering services to Network Rail, including ground investigations, foundation installation and ground stabilisation, on projects ranging from small platform extensions on rural stations to major schemes, such as the upgrading of Birmingham New Street Station.

“A particular challenge has been when we are presenting dynamic sampling and dynamic probe data,” explains Van Elle Geotechnical Engineer Jon Wright. “Dynamic probing is commonly used in the rail environment as it is a quick and efficient way of gathering soil strength data during short track possessions.”

In the past, Van Elle has had to double- or even triple-handle data in HoleBASE SI, Excel, in pdf format and by hand, to produce long sections that meet Network Rail requirements, Wright says.

“Clearly, we needed a more efficient way of handling data, as it was becoming very time-consuming. HoleBASE SI was already able to produce the long sections required by Network Rail, using the software’s mapping and section tools, but did not have Network Rail’s legends and templates, so we decided to work with that to develop a solution.”

The team first extracted the legends from the key supplied by Network Rail (which was in pdf format) as jpegs and created a new legend code in HoleBASE SI – this could then be used on the borehole logs.

Van Elle also added a ‘Torque chart’ to the dynamic probe log template using HoleBASE Template Studio. Dynamic probe data and plots were added to the strip used by the section template to create section views, again using HoleBASE Template Studio.

“Because we used tools within HoleBASE SI, we were confident that sections could be provided to Network Rail as standard; the format also allowed us to present much more data to Network Rail than ever before,” Wright says.

“The approach has transformed the way we report to Network Rail. By streamlining the process and enabling Network Rail-compliant outputs to be produced almost instantly, we save many hours of data handling, delivering enormous cost savings.”

Network Rail benefits too, he adds. “Network Rail receives data quickly and in a format that can be used in multiple ways and compared with other data relatively easily. The quality of reports has also been improved and are in a format that can be readily-presented to other stakeholders.”

Wright says the new approach can also be applied to other projects. “In the future, if any of our clients asks for data to be presented in a certain format, or if we are using an alternative investigation method than they are used to, we can customise reports and meet these requirements easily. We believe that this will make us even more competitive.”