Thames Water chooses TILOS for time-location planning of Thames Tunnel Megaproject

The Themes Tunnel is a major new sewer, urgently needed to protect the River Thames from increasing pollution. The project will upgrade London’s Victorian sewerage system to cope with the demands of 21st Century London.

Starting in west London, the preferred route for the main tunnel generally follows the route of the River Thames to Limehouse, where it then continues north-east to Abbey Mills Pumping Station near Stratford. There it will be connected to the Lee Tunnel, which is currently under construction, and will transfer the sewage to Beckton Sewage Treatment Works.

The Thames Tunnel is proposed to be 7.2 metres in diameter, about 67 metres deep and covering a distance of approximately 25 kilometres – making it one of the largest and deepest tunnels under London. Planning and design of such a tunnel brings large and complex challenges, and because the nature of the project is linear, Thames Water needed a time-location planning tool to provide a graphical visualisation of the project plan.

Channi Matharu, Planning and Scheduling Manager for the Thames Tunnel, started to look at linear planning software that would allow him to validate the schedule and have good presentation capability. After reviewing available systems for functionality and ease of use, the project team chose Linear project’s graphical time-location planning tool, TILOS, for its flexible drawing software and scheduling ability.

“We needed a tool that would extract the very detailed information out of our planning software and give us a visual representation that would reflect the scale of the project. We looked at a range of linear planning software tools, and following a demonstration by Asta Development we chose TILOS. TILOS can condense 60 pages worth of crucial information into one page. We need that level of detail presented as efficiently as possible,” said Channi.

TILOS is a very powerful tool

There are many challenges to consider when planning such engineering projects, many of which will not be visible or manageable when using CAD and Excel software tools. Unlike these systems, TILOS provides a graphical visualisation of the project plan with the project location.

The process involves preparation of the project programme in P6, checking it through for logic and consistency; it is then exported to TILOS. TILOS verifies whether the logic is right – whether the tunnels join in the right places, whether they are continuous and so on.

The data is displayed in picture format to the project team. This illustration of the critical path helps ensure, for example, that the construction of the shaft will be complete before the TBM is ready to begin boring the tunnel at the site. A picture shows this more clearly compared with conventional planning software. All the constraints are highlighted and any anomalies can be put right and re-exported.

Clarity of information means good communication

TILOS allows the team to identify and extract just the right amount of information and exports the detail needed.

“Using TILOS means the whole team has visibility of the plan – they find it easier to follow than a bar graph. In TILOS an object relates to a physical representation, whether it is a shaft or a tunnel,” continued Channi.

“TILOS is making our lives easier. It helps us to sort out any issues of logic before they become a problem. It also allows us to communicate clearly to all teams involved exactly what we are aiming to do and is a good tool to demonstrate to all stakeholders what we are going to deliver.”

Channi and the team members who use TILOS have found that it gives exactly the output they need. Its success means that the team is keen to implement TILOS in a much wider community.

“My goal is to have my full team trained on TILOS and using it going forward. We showed it to the wider project team, and thanks to its strong presentation capability, it will be used for the duration of this project.”

This proposed engineering megaproject will be presented for planning consent in late 2012, with construction beginning in 2016 for a period of 6 to 7 years. The Thames Tunnel will upgrade London’s Victorian sewerage system to cope with the demands of 21st Century London and will tackle the problem of overflows for at least the next 100 years, enabling the UK to meet European environmental standards. TILOS will be instrumental in making this great project happen.

(With permission from our UK partner ASTA development plc.)


July 2012