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Mobility and Aerospace
“Large-scale Deutsche Bahn projects are crucial to Europe’s mobility transition. Porsche Consulting is helping us complete them faster.”
DIRK ROMPF
Board Member for Network Planning and Large-Scale Projects, DB Netz
And here is where collaboration between DB Netz AG and Porsche Consulting comes into play. The management con- sultancy was commissioned to speed up planning and con- struction of large-scale projects by 25 percent. The sooner a rail project is finished, the sooner revenue flows in from its use. Fees are paid by around 380 passenger and freight com- panies that use the rails of DB Netz AG. They vary from €1.73 to €11.90 per kilometer depending on the type of train and the quality of the line.
“Large-scale” projects are defined as new lines or expan- sions that cost more than €250 million. “There are more than one hundred of these in Germany,” says Philipp Langefeld, the head of project management and systems for the Karlsruhe- Basel project. That makes Deutsche Bahn the largest build- ing contractor in Germany. The average project duration from commissioning to completion is twenty years. Agile project management was one of the methods recommended by the Porsche consultants. Instead of strict hierarchies, it promotes interaction among all stakeholders. It also entails constant coordination and confirmation among team members, and brief meetings held every day—called “dailies”—to ana- lyze work done thus far. This enhances both motivation and quality. That, combined with their proven lean construction methods, have enabled the consultants to achieve the desired acceleration in initial pilot projects.
One of the tools for speeding up the work is a touchscreen planning table of nearly two square meters in size. Project managers use it to access all digital data and check whether individual steps are consistent and will not impede other work at the site—long before the first excavators sink their shovels into the Rhine Valley. “I can see the relationship between the line and a bridge right away in this virtual realm,” says Lange- feld. The planners take a workflow-based approach here. They can assess whether a control wire mast is too close to a bridge abutment, or whether that bridge abutment might have slid onto a cost list where it doesn’t belong.
The planners also use the table to manage the great- er complexity that arises from having to work “under the wheels,” or while train service is operating. That means plan- ning for periods when construction is not allowed and for pro- visional measures like rail detours around construction sites. The enormous screen shows the surrounding landscape from any desired perspective, and even without any new struc- tures—which are simply deleted by a swipe or a click. The people involved in the virtual planning process include both those running the project and those affected by it, such as community representatives and residents who are invited to the CAVE room. Its darkened interior holds stools, a table, and terraced seating. But the cavern-like space is dominated by a bright projection screen on one semi-circular wall and the floor. Visitors start by putting on two important articles: 3-D glasses and oversized felt slippers like those used by tourists at Baroque palaces. Then they may stand on the floor. Instead of beautiful old wood, it consists of a no less valuable digital screen that lets visitors enter into the landscape and view the finished project—even from below if needed.
To simulate their movements, visitors use a “flight stick” or wireless joystick pointer to click on a menu that can be
  Slippers and glasses
BIM specialist Katarina Roth (2nd from left) uses her “flight stick” to move through 3-D projections on the wall and floor.
the topography from the air, supported by laser cameras on the ground. This generated an enormous database, which continues to grow. “One current challenge has to do with the sheer volumes of data you get from digital inventories of large-scale projects,” says Katarina Roth, a BIM specialist at DB Netz AG. The data are used to create a “digital twin”—or digital replica—of the existing and future infrastructure. The twin contains everything from a well-maintained single- family home near the embankment to the control and safety systems on the line, areas at risk of flooding from the Rhine, and plans for parts of the line not yet built.
Creative work begins in the idea room. Surrounded by flex- ible furnishings—colorful upholstered stools, floor-to-ceiling shelves, and a large whiteboard—teams come up with con- cepts and use agile methods to develop them further. This lays the groundwork for concrete projects that take specif- ic form in the adjacent open-plan office in ways that enable them to be integrated as easily as possibly: first into the virtu- al and then into the actual environment of the new line.
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Porsche Consulting The Magazine
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