Altran launches VueForge, Big Data service offering

23 October 2014

Consulting and engineering firm Altran has launched a new offering that helps organisations reap the benefits of machine-generated Big Data. The solution, known as VueForge, was showcased for the very first time in the UK on Tuesday at the company’s ‘Innovation Symposium’ held at Lotus F1 Team’s HQ.

The massive rise of ‘connected devices’ – also known as ‘The Internet of Things’ – is expected to in the coming years transform the way we do business. According to research firm Gartner, by 2020 the number of internet-connected physical devices will increase thirty-fold by 2020. One the one hand this trend offers businesses large opportunities, such as better service quality and/or operational efficiency driven by the adoption of state-of-the-art Big Data techniques, yet on the hand it provides companies with huge challenges. With more and more devices connecting to the web, and data capture growing at an exponential rate, seizing, storing and analysing the millions, if not billions of data records is becoming a gruelling task for CIO’s and their Big Data teams.

Altran - Big Data

For professional services firms, Big Data advisory and IT support – estimated to be one of the fastest growing segments within the consulting industry – has grown into a high-demand and lucrative industry. So too for Altran, a French origin engineering and consulting firm, with over 21,000 employees across the globe of the market leaders in its field. In response to the booming demand, the firm recently bundled its related services into its so-called ‘Intelligent Systems’ offering* and now, roughly one year later, the consultancy has unveiled that it is taking its solution to the next level with the launch of VueForge.

“Altran’s VueForge offering has been designed to help clients across all sectors to reap the benefits of industrial, machine-driven Big Data and focus on defining future generations of services and products,” explains Keith Williams, Group Vice-President for Altran’s Intelligent Systems portfolio. According to Williams, VueForge is an end-to-end offering that “combines technology, usage and business models in an efficient manner”, ultimately helping organisations harvest data at the “lowest cost using the most appropriate architecture”.

VueForge was formally launched in the UK at the company’s ‘Innovation Symposium’ held at Whiteways Technical Centre in Oxfordshire, the home of Lotus F1 Team, of which Altran is a Technical Partner. In the coming months Altran will gradually introduce the offering to its customers in the UK. 

* The Intelligent Systems offering brings together seven core offerings that enable organisations to develop and integrate intelligent systems and technologies: Systems Engineering, Software Engineering, Safety, Security, Electronics, Connectivity and Industrial Analytics.


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How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.