Tag: Rail technology

3Squared at rail tech event Railtex 2023

3Squared at Railtex 2023

We recently attended Railtex –  the UK’s International rail industry exhibition event which sees suppliers and manufacturers from across the rail supply chain come together to showcase the latest advancements in rail tech. As well as exhibiting and demonstrating our flagship product RailSmart, we were also able to attend some of the insightful talks and presentations that took place. We caught up with 3Squared team members, Graham and Jason, to find out their thoughts on the event.

What was your highlight from Railtex 2023?

“The Future Focus Conference – International session with David Fisken, Investment Director at Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) was really informative.

He shared that with a A$155 billion rail investment pipeline over the next 15 years, it’s a great time for UK rail businesses to be looking at opportunities in Australia.

I have already connected on LinkedIn and will be following up with a few questions.” – Jason Greig, Sales and Account Manager

“The opportunity to meet clients, prospects and colleagues and friends in the rail industry – from government organisations, rail professional associations and the press.  All round, a good opportunity to catch up, discuss trends and issues – especially, given the name of the show, about technology driving rail modernisation” – Graham Cooper, Head of Product and Marketing

 

What was the most interesting thing you learnt at the event? 

“I wasn’t aware that there was so much support available for overseas trade – very interesting to hear and we will certainly be exploring these options.” – Jason Greig

 

“Our meeting with Milda Manomaityte from the Rail Industry Association (RIA) to discuss data driven rail systems improvement was brilliant.  As a result, I’ve since had a very interesting follow up conversation with colleagues at the Rail Delivery Group to discuss how the Rail Data Marketplace will help solutions developers like 3Squared build better, more relevant products with the potential to further drive digital transformation in rail.” – Graham Cooper

3Squared at Railtex event.

Did you attend Railtex with an aim in mind?

“Yes – my goal was to meet some interesting people and interesting businesses and learn more about what the future of rail technology looks like.” – Graham Cooper

 

What is your key takeaway from the event?

“That there is no shortage of appetite for the use of technology to improve outcomes for passengers and for freight businesses and operators seeking and deliver more modern, efficient rail processes. A combination of policy initiatives, innovative businesses and passionate people are all pushing towards a brighter future for rail and the role technology can play in delivering that.” – Graham Cooper

 

All in all, Railtex provided some fruitful conversations with fellow rail peers, and the team came back armed with valuable insights on what the future holds for rail technology. Bring on the next Railtex!

To find out more about 3Squared and our rail technology solutions, contact us today via [email protected].

3Squared’s monthly ‘Meet the team’ feature with Jake Minor, Associate Software Engineer

This month’s ‘Meet the team’ features Jake Minor, Associate Software Engineer, who initially joined the team on his placement year whilst studying at Sheffield Hallam University, and who returned to the team as a graduate last year.

 

Hi Jake, can you tell us about your favourite thing about working at 3Squared?

 “My favourite things about working at 3Squared is the amount of opportunity for growth which is present at the company.

“Since returning to the company after graduating 8 months ago – I’ve been able to take on responsibilities such as leading development on RailSmart Path Planner and our internal UI package, enhance the company’s relationship with Sheffield Hallam by getting the business involved in the Scrum project, contributing towards key decisions around the companies process whilst feeling supported by more senior members of the team. By having this responsibility, it had helped me to feel like I’m really contributing to the business and allowed me to improve my technical and non-technical skills as a Software Engineer in a structured and well supported environment.

“Another thing which contributes to the opportunity of growth is down to the talented and passionate individuals which 3Squared employs. Working alongside these people who have different passions and skills about their area of expertise has helped me continue growing as a Software Engineer and a Professional as everyone is very friendly and willing to teach you something which they know about!”

 

What initially drew you to the role and working for 3Squared?

“Whilst looking for placement opportunities during my second year of university, 3Squared came to Sheffield Hallam and delivered a talk on what it was like to work at the company. The talk covered topics around the Rail industry, the company’s culture and the technologies stack. The talk was very laid back however insightful and the employees who were involved it genuinely seemed like they enjoyed delivering it and were passionate about the work which they were doing. Off the back of this presentation, I was exposed to how enjoyable the culture is and how interesting the work is at 3Squared!

“Once I had finished my placement with 3Squared, members of staff I’d been working with or had become close to kept in touch and the company continued to invite me to different socials which they were hosting. This really made me feel as if I was part of the team and in conjunction with my extremely positive placement experience drew me back to the company after graduating.”

 

What excites you about the industry and the world of rail technology?

 “The main thing which excites me about the world of rail technology, especially the technology which we develop at 3Squared, is that I know the work which we do is making a serious difference to the Rail Industry. Knowing that people are using the solutions which I contribute towards and get genuine value out of them to make their job easier which in turn improves the efficiency of the Rail Industry is very exciting!”

  

Can you tell us more about the project with students at Sheffield Hallam that you’ve been involved with?

“During the second year of the Software Engineering and Computer Science degree, students are required to complete the Scrum Project. The Scrum Project requires the students to interact with real clients to gather requirements, design and develop a solution and effectively manage a project.

“The Scrum project is a great opportunity for Students to get real life experience with clients and an understanding of how to run a project effectively and successfully. It also allows them to explore the different roles required to create quality software and how each of those roles interact with each other across the Software Development Lifecycle. My experience of doing the project propelled my learning and allowed me to apply my knowledge around managing and contributing towards a software project to my university assignments and my Placement interview at 3Squared!

“From 3Squared’s perspective, getting involved in the project allows us as a business to provide an opportunity for students to gain an understanding over what we do at 3Squared and potentially spark an interest in Rail Technology. It also allows 3Squared to find some potential placement or graduates which could effectively contribute to the business.

“The process started off with myself getting in touch with Sheffield Hallam on behalf of 3Squared and expressing interest about getting involved in the Scrum Project. Once we had confirmation from Sheffield Hallam that we were on board, they required us to write a project specification which the Students could develop in a 2 week period.

“After brainstorming potential project ideas with some of the senior members of the 3Squared development team. We decided to challenge the students to create a National Map. As an MVP, we asked the students to display the movements of active trains which were happening across the UK. Once we had an idea of the MVP, I started to write up the specification which explained: key terms which the student may come across during project, a suggestion of technologies that the students could use; these were based on the technologies we use at 3Squared, what the deliverable should look like and a range of screenshots of our solution.

“Once the specification had been reviewed by a lecturer at Sheffield Hallam, the project was put forward to the students and our project gained interest from 11 students in total with one remoting in from Australia! Once the teams had been formed, we went down to Sheffield Hallam to introduce ourselves and answer any questions the students had about the project specification. During the visit, I also gave a demonstration of BulkSmart’s National Map to give the students a clearer understanding of what we were expecting them to create and to allow them to ask questions about our implementation.

“On the 13th February, the first Sprint week commenced and on the 17th February a Senior Developer and I went down to Hallam to review what the students had made during the week. During the visit, the two teams gave a demonstration of what they had created in the week and we were really happy with what the students had achieved! Both teams had managed to achieve the MVP for the project within a week and had spoken about plans to further enhance their solution during the next sprint based on their own ideas and our feedback.

“The final review for the students project is on the 31st March and we’re really excited to see the teams final implementations and we’re hoping to get them up to the 3Squared office to demonstrate what they’ve done to the wider team!”

 

Thanks for giving us an insight into life at 3Squared, Jake. If you would be interested in learning more about how you could join the 3Squared team, visit our careers page here or get in touch via [email protected]

 

3Squared ‘Meet the team’ – Marie Hanby, Marketing Manager

Graphic with photo of Marie Hanby, Marketing Manager.

This month’s ‘Meet the team’ features Marie Hanby, our Marketing Manager who joined our team late last year. We chatted about the swanky 3Squared office, what initially drew her to the role, and how important communications is.

Photo of Marie Hanby, Marketing Manager.

Marie Hanby, Marketing Manager.

Hi Marie, can you give us an insight into your role and day-to-day at 3Squared?

As with any new job, there is lots to do.  Our team is currently implementing an exciting new marketing plan. As Marketing Manager, I’m balancing a number of different key aspects from digital to print, whilst aligning these with our sales and customer success teams.

What’s your favourite thing about working at 3Squared?

For me, I have to say the 3Squared office! The central city location means it’s great for lunch time – whether that’s for food or shopping.  The office itself is also really swanky, with a great coffee machine, not to mention a fantastic team of people.

 

What initially drew you to the role and working for 3Squared?

The role itself ticked all the boxes for me and was a great match for my skillset. Plus, joining this industry presented an exciting new challenge in my marketing career. The recruitment process was weirdly enjoyable! Everything was just a great fit, and it was an easy yes when they offered me the position.

 

How have you harnessed your experience from other industries and previous roles?

I have worked in a marketing capacity for 25 years in different industries. It’s great to be able to bring that wide range of cross-sector experience to 3Squared. Coming into a new role with a fresh perspective and unique experience can be helpful in itself, and I’ve enjoyed bringing this to 3Squared.

 

How important is communications for 3Squared?

Very. We have a range of innovative, digital solutions that can help transform the railway and make a real difference, from safety to efficient operations. Communications plays a central role in reaching the right people who we can help, whether that’s posting on LinkedIn or meeting new people at events.

 

What excites you about the industry and the world of rail technology?

3Squared have technologies and innovations that provide solutions to key industry challenges and enable positive change. There are a multitude of opportunities where technology can play a key role in making the industry not only more efficient, but also greener. It’s great to be part of the 3Squared team who are making a difference and to play a part in communicating this message to the rail industry and beyond.

 

Thanks for giving us an insight into your role, Marie. If you would be interested in learning more about how you could join the 3Squared team, visit our careers page here or get in touch via [email protected]

Digital Connectivity: what it means for Sheffield and beyond

An innovative city

Sheffield has always been a forward-thinking, innovative city, and we are proud to call it our home. From the city’s history as a steel producer, to the thriving community of SMEs, Sheffield has a rich history of innovation. Digital connectivity and its underpinning infrastructure support businesses and people in a myriad of ways, from remote working to travelling, streaming and more.

Shifting digital trends

The latest data from the government illustrates widespread internet usage across the UK, with 92% of adults in the UK regularly using the internet and the proportion of over 75-year-olds regularly accessing the internet nearly doubling between 2013 to 2020 – no doubt expanding further since this data was released in 2021.

Connectivity and usage have unquestionably been impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We’ve seen trends for typical consumers shifting online, with the growth of platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, as well as the expansion of social media platforms like TikTok. Ofcom reports that ‘UK adults are now spending more than a quarter of their waking day online – the highest on record’.

Across industries such as our own, we’ve seen similar shifts reflected. Most notably, the move to remote working, with ONS reporting that between 2019 and 2022 ‘home working in the UK has more than doubled’.

Within the rail industry and wider transport sector, digitalisation and the ‘digital railway’ has been a key focus of discussion and development. Major infrastructure projects such as the East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP), a project in which we are proudly involved in, are integrating digitalisation and innovative technology.

With these trends in mind, building world-class digital infrastructure to support people and businesses in Sheffield, South Yorkshire and across the UK has never been more important.

‘Powering connectivity in Sheffield’ roundtable

In February, our Technical Services Director, Ross Bray, was part of the ‘Powering connectivity in Sheffield’ roundtable hosted by ITS Technology and Insider.

The roundtable’s focus was directed on ‘Sheffield’s vision for a world-class digital infrastructure underpinned by high-quality, futureproof full fibre services’, and brought together representatives from the city’s digital space, as well as the more traditional industries that Sheffield is known for.

It was certainly interesting to hear a broad range of perspectives from Sheffield businesses. For instance, manufacturing company Gripple shared the challenges they face in the manufacturing sector. It was clear that no matter our size, sector or location, we face a central challenge: how to connect people better.

Technical Services Director, Ross witnesses the tangible benefits digital connectivity can provide on a daily basis, whether that is in the solutions 3Squared delivers, or the ability to work from home whilst staying connected with the team.

Ross’s career path has meant he has always been an advocate for digital connectivity and the benefits it provides, even prior to joining our team.

Ross and the rest of the 3Squared team are eager to see the growth and change that connectivity can have for Sheffield-based businesses like ours, as well as for people across Yorkshire.

The new way of working

The digital world we live in impacts the way businesses work internally, as well as the way we collaborate with other organisations.

Instead of complicated logistics and hours of travel, we can connect online at the click of a button. This enables more efficient, effective communication across businesses and clients, changing the face of project delivery. It also enables more opportunities to engage with people.

Remote working can empower people to join the workforce, including parents and people with disabilities, which supports equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). We pride ourselves on offering more opportunities in Sheffield, such as through our partnership with Sheffield Hallam University. We are also excited to get involved with new projects supporting EDI in the fields of technology, innovation and rail.

From the roundtable discussion, it is certain that the hybrid approach we and many other businesses take is here to stay. Nevertheless, we all require the necessary infrastructure to successfully support this new way of working.

The digital railway

Here at 3Squared, we know that digital connectivity underpins everything – from developing software to putting it into action.

Digital solutions for the rail industry require data, and a lot of it. To maximise the benefits of our solutions, we need to share huge amounts of data with a diverse set of people located across the country.

Real-time data collection will play a pivotal role in the future of the rail industry. The insights coupled with such data will improve performance, efficiency, safety, and sustainability.

To make this future rail network a reality as with the new way of working, we require this same effective digital connectivity infrastructure across the UK.

We would like to thank ITS Technology and Insider Media for hosting the insightful roundtable and the Sheffield business community representatives for a great discussion.

 

Would you like to learn more about 3Squared and our solutions? Get in contact today via [email protected].

Making the complex simple – An insight by Sean Twycross

Graphic with post title 'Making the complex simple' with photo of Sean Twycross

An insight by Sean Twycross, Head of Delivery at 3Squared:

My 3Squared journey so far

I joined the business back in 2015 from the port industry as a Project Manager tasked with supporting a wide breadth of projects across the business. Two years later, I was promoted to Senior Project Manager. Now in my role of Head of Delivery, I am responsible for the part of the product journey that ensures 3Squared continues to deliver market-leading products, advancements and software solutions that are the best fit for each customer.

Photo of Sean Twycross, Head of Delivery at 3Squared

Sean Twycross, Head of Delivery at 3Squared

Over the last 8 years, I have been part of 3Squared’s extraordinary rise from providing a variety of industry software solutions, to solidifying our presence and becoming the go-to software company for the rail industry. A good example of that is RailSmart which has grown from one software solution into a comprehensive suite of six core rail industry applications. With our parent company EPM spearheading the vision for the transport business across the board, 3Squared is equipped to continually develop products of quality and strength in the rail industry.

No day is ever the same

I am inspired by the forward-thinking structure of the business which integrates not only product development but also customer experience, with a dedicated Customer Success team.

My role is a holistic one so involves working with my colleagues across our departments. We achieve a balance of workflow that delivers the solutions on time, and we then follow that up with ongoing customer support. The Customer Success team ensures that customers are helped with making the best use of all the application features and receive ongoing support.

Operating in an ambitious and diverse industry

The rail industry is a fascinating context in which to apply software solutions. Our product development must match the ambitions and real-life challenges that specialists on the ground making ambitious and diverse improvements to the rail system have.

As Head of Delivery, I am always bringing our activity and decision-making back to the fundamentals of delivering value, quality and enhancements that are viable and relevant.

The scope of each project is dependent on what is going on externally, and client communication (online and face-to-face) is of paramount importance to guarantee the overall success of a project. Planning is key here; at project kick-off meetings product owners and the development team agree upon exactly what work will be accomplished during the ‘sprint’, and as a team, we commit to those deliverables within a set time period.

The project sponsor has trusted us to deliver something that will bring tangible benefits to their business, and we take that seriously. Our project managers are there to make sure clients are informed every step of the way and that implementation dates are managed effectively. We need to help our customer make changes within their businesses, and we are passionate about them being successful.

Viability

One of the common things we come across in the software industry is providing solutions that give too much complexity without addressing the core need. As we develop solutions, we validate the problem each application function resolves. Pairing back application design and build is an art and science, and this is something I am proud to be part of. Collectively at 3Squared we excel at this and sustain high levels of quality solutions for our customers due to this approach. It is our job to make the complex as simple as possible.

Supporting the wider business

A key function of the team is to work across the business and ensure that projects are progressing and maintain continuous communication with clients, to keep them up to date on their project’s progress.

Project management is often cited as the ‘backbone’ of the business, and the department that ensures the business delivers profitable projects. The team works hard to ensure that forecasting is succinct and that the business can take on more projects and hire additional resource where necessary.

The world of rail technology is constantly evolving and always driving forward. It is an exciting industry in which to work, and one which I would fully endorse to anybody who is interested in making a career.

 

To find out more about 3Squared and how we can support your digital transformation, contact us today. 

3Squared’s media insights, January 2023

Monthly media insight graphic for January 2023 with a photo of Martin Gleadow.

January 2023 has come to a close, giving us the perfect opportunity to consider the month’s news alongside the rail industry’s headlines as 2022 concluded. The last few months of 2022 saw key events for the rail industry, from the climate change conference COP27 in November to announcements on Control Period 7 funding from Network Rail.

Photo of Martin Gleadow, Head of Customer Success at 3Squared.

Martin Gleadow, Head of Customer Success at 3Squared

Martin Gleadow, Head of Customer Success at 3Squared, reflects on these news stories making the headlines in the industry:

“As we advocate for rail as an essential element of our transport system and key to a greener network, it’s great to see other benefits of rail highlighted in the media, such as the GTR research that has revealed that travelling into the office by rail more regularly could boost wellbeing through regular micro interactions with others, the chance to read or listen to podcasts, and more. Here at 3Squared, it turns out that over 50% of our team regularly travel into the office by train and tram!

“A theme that has stood out throughout 2022 and running into 2023 is sustainability. Enabling a greener railway is at the forefront of the industry agenda and is a key priority for us at 3Squared. Innovation and investment in greener transportation, like rail, is key to creating a more environmentally friendly, transport system and society at large.

“Research from Trainline also reveals that business travellers want to make greener choices and ‘increase use of lower carbon modes of transport’ which is promising news.

“As we at 3Squared continue to develop specialist rail solutions, Net Zero and sustainability remain front of mind. This year one of our key focuses is PathPlanner, a tool designed to help overcome rail freight capacity challenges, enabling freight services to run more flexibly and efficiently. This is a solution that can help facilitate the modal shift from road to the more environmentally friendly rail.

“It’s been exciting to see other innovators enabling change in the industry, such as Varamis Rail, the UK’s first electric-only rail freight operator, who have started to transport parcels more sustainably.

“Tying into sustainability is another theme: the digital railway. Throughout 2022 and into 2023, we’ve seen numerous advancements in creating the digital railway of the future. From new digital displays at Doncaster, to progress on the East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP), it’s clear digitalisation is here to stay.

“On a wider industry level, we’ve seen funding announced for Network Rail’s Control Period 7 (CP7), and discussions around the social, environmental and commercial innovations planned for CP7. Research informing plans for CP7 shows that as we move into the new year, passengers are prioritising ‘value for money, reliability and punctuality’. We look forward to seeing more of these innovations in action in the next few years.

“Alongside funding information, we’ve seen calls for clarity in terms of several major infrastructure projects, including Stonehenge Tunnel, HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, so it will be interesting to see how this progresses this year. Large infrastructure projects like HS2, which we have had the privilege of working on, have reported key milestones recently, such as completing the world’s longest bridge slide.

“Another project that we have been involved with, the East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP), developed throughout 2022 and we look forward to seeing further progress this year, especially given the enhancements to sustainability and connectivity.

“Other organisations have reached important milestones in 2023, such as LNER which recently marked its 100th year, and the London Underground, which celebrate its 160th year. Membership body Rail Forum is also celebrating an anniversary this year, having been established 30 years ago.

“When it comes to regional rail news, the Midlands Rail hub was announced at the back end of last year, with an aim to bring greater connectivity to the region and was described as the ‘biggest step possible in levelling-up the Midlands’.

“Finally, we’ve also seen some exciting news from clients and collaborators in January, including Merseyrail’s new Stadler fleet entering the network. Both Merseyrail and Stadler use our competency management system RailSmart EDS, which improves visibility, minimises risk and reduces the cost of compliance management.

“Thanks for reading this issue of 3Squared’s media insights, we will be sharing more insights soon.”

 

If you would like to hear more from the 3Squared team on how we can support your business, get in touch today.

3Squared ‘Meet the team’ – Jason Greig, Sales and Account Manager

Photo of 3Squared Sales and Account Manager Jason Greig

3Squared Sales and Account Manager Jason Greig

In our first ‘Meet the team’ instalment of 2023, we spoke to Jason Greig, Sales and Account Manager, on the power that engagement and collaboration have in his role, what drew him to a career in rail and how technology can overcome a diverse range of customer issues:  

Hi Jason, what are your main roles and responsibilities at 3Squared?  

My main role is to ensure that we are the go-to business for technology solutions within the rail sector. This means building relationships within the sector, so I can advise where 3Squared can offer support in resolving customer issues. 

What drew you to your role at 3Squared?  

I moved back to Sheffield and was looking for a forward-thinking company to work for. My role at 3Squared was suggested by a colleague who works for the parent company, EPM Group. Having viewed some of the information on the company, it was a no-brainer that this was the right company for me. 

Can you provide us with an overview of your experience to date and what drew you down your career path?  

I have been in tech sales for 20 years, predominantly in the Apprenticeship/Education sector. I don’t think anyone ever chooses sales as a career path, but I soon discovered I was good at it, and that I enjoy the challenge and satisfaction of supporting customers in successfully solving their issues. I have limited rail experience; however, this is growing daily, and I do know how to solve customer issues through harnessing technology.  

What excites you about the world of rail technology?  

Rail technology is fascinating, and I never knew there was so much brilliant technology being used in the sector. That said, there are still some old-fashioned ways of working taking place, where the introduction of tech could make such positive differences if it’s adopted in the right way- not just from a process perspective, but also time, money, and risk. 

Having family in the rail sector gives me an insight into the day-to-day processes and challenges that you may not always get visibility of in a B2B conversation. A combination of this and discussions with our customers and prospects, leads me to believe that there is still a long way to go with getting tech embedded in some areas of the sector, something that I think 3Squared can play an integral role in.  

How integral are collaboration and engagement to the world of rail?  

Quite simply, massive. 

What do you enjoy about the working culture at 3Squared?  

Since joining 3Squared, I have been made to feel very welcome. There is lots to do internally which will make us more efficient and enable us to have more impact externally.   

I have very little doubt that the 3Squared team will pull on each other’s strengths to ensure that we are successful. This winning culture is one of the reasons I was attracted to the company. 

Being new to the rail industry I am currently building my network so please watch out for my call, email, or LinkedIn connection request. I am sure that we have solutions that will be able to help most companies in the rail sector and look forward to forging connections and relationships in 2023.  

Thanks for giving us an insight into your role, Jason. If you would be interested in learning more about how you could join the 3Squared team, visit our careers page here or get in touch via [email protected]