Why Penmark was hired

HS2 knew that the planned clearance of the Euston site was going to be an archaeological and construction first. The project scope and scale of the work to be undertaken was unique; no previous, relevant best practice models were available to refer to.

HS2 needed to ensure that LEAN expertise was applied throughout the project team, right from the planning stage, to determine best value for money for the public purse.

Penmark has delivered several successful LEAN interventions on previous Costain projects and was approached once again to support the team at the HS2 Euston site.


The problem we discovered

Traditionally, the relationship between construction teams and archaeologists seeking to protect any historically significant artefacts or remains discovered at the site can be problematic, with both sides having very different viewpoints about the priorities and overall aims of the project in question. In this case, a number of projects had previously run over budget and experienced delays due to a lack of project controls and visibility.

Amongst the problems that had arisen were issues around accountability and performance target setting on the archaeologists’ side in particular that stemmed from embedded culture, behaviours and previous experiences with other construction projects.

A clear set of archaeological processes and workflows exist for when skeletal remains are unearthed during a construction project. However, when the number of finds exceeds 2,000, this is classed as a large find and the required processes alter quite substantially. It was expected that there could be anything up to 45,000 finds at the HS2 Euston site, which meant that the team’s behaviours, approach, work processes, logistics, facilities and control measures all needed to be urgently addressed.


The approach we took to solve the problem

The Penmark team reviewed all traditional archaeological processes, including offsite processing laboratories and proposed new improved processes, and agreed measures with all disciplines.

We created a project dashboard to act as the main set of guidelines. This included the agreed output measure, as well as the measures for each stage handover. This consisted of a single page to keep things straightforward that was reviewed daily with the team and the LEAN deliverer.

This approach drove team behaviour, developed the formation of the team and encouraged debate on Root Cause failures and how to continually improve performance.

Penmark designed and installed a purpose-built end to end site facility to collate, wash, dry, record, pack and despatch all the project finds. Production ergonomic first principles and LEAN techniques were used to improve production rates at the same time as ensuring the welfare of the staff.

Staff flows and work areas were planned and reviewed to make certain that there would be no flow pinch points. We also ensured the presence of optimised tool locations for all project teams on an ongoing basis.

Throughout the project we supported the team with issues as they arose. We also facilitated continuous improvement activities, monitored data streams for accuracy and guided and developed their teams in LEAN activities and viable solutions.


The result

Costain exceeded customer expectations, delivering a project that was completed early and came in under budget. Following its completion, the approach we recommended and oversaw has been adopted by the archaeological industry as best practice. Pleasingly, the project was so well received that it was shortlisted for the final of the Construction Industry Awards.


Client Testimonials

Don’t take our word for it – here’s what our clients say:

Caroline Raynor MCIfA

Project Manager, Principal Archaeologist, Costain/Skanska

“Penmark offers a bespoke service providing a highly trained and experienced group of staff to identify potential areas for business improvement. The team demonstrated an exceptional ability to understand requirements, identify needs and methods of improvement, and implement them in a way which gained a positive buy-in from staff at all levels and across a number of diverse disciplines.”