TILOS is playing a key role in the delivery of the Thames Tideway super-sewer, the largest-ever infrastructure project undertaken by the UK water industry
The Thames Tideway Tunnel is a major new sewer urgently needed to protect the tidal River Thames from pollution, which is due to be completed in 2023. Stretching 25km along the route of the River Thames at a depth of 65m, the tunnel will be more than seven metres in diameter. It is the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken by the UK water industry. As this major project progresses, it is vital for all contractors to integrate their works, plan and collaborate effectively. It is for that reason that TILOS has been in use since 2010 to help visualise the entirety of the works.
TILOS is a software application that is designed for planning, managing and delivering linear construction projects. It combines the flexibility of a drawing package with the power of project management, and to exchange data seamlessly with other major project planning software packages.
For almost five years, Evangelos Kovaios, the integration scheduler – programme controls for Tideway, worked to evolve the use of TILOS for maximum effectiveness, liaising closely with Elecosoft to shape and fine-tune the template around the complex requirements of this significant, multi-party project, and create ever-clearer visual representation.
Today, TILOS delivers an unparalleled, complete overview of the Thames Tideway Tunnel project, which informs monthly integration meetings and forms an essential part of board communication for stakeholder organisations.
There are seven essential benefits which he believes TILOS brings to the project:
Tell the whole project story in one page
“TILOS gives us the ability to tell the whole project story graphically on one single page. That is very important for Tideway because, including all the contractors, we have between 50-60 thousand activities to manage. A percentage of these are pulled into a summarised Project Master Programme in TILOS, which has around 1,000 activities that represents our construction programme.”
Anyone on the team can understand the plan
“TILOS makes it easy for anyone on the project to understand the programme, and it really works excellently as a communication tool between the project teams for East, West and Central sections, and the system integrator. We also include the enabling works within our TILOS plan, since we can’t start work on any site until they finish their activities.”
Collaborative ‘what if’ scenario planning
“The Tideway project has three major contractors working together, who need to collaborate and integrate their schedules all the time. Using TILOS, it is very easy for us to do that, create ‘what if’ scenarios and assess any opportunities we have on the project. Construction managers have a visual representation, then based on that can suggest different ways to do the tunnelling or interfaces. Within an hour, we can have multiple scenarios worked out, and see the impact of each one on the actual integration of the programme.”
Clear sight of the critical path
“Each individual team develops their own programmes in silos, but then we need to glue the programmes together with interface milestones between them. We can integrate the schedule in our project planning software, but then the critical path changes. We produce the TILOS after the integration and can actually see the critical path on one page. That way, we know what affects what, can see if we need to change the logic, or start a new ‘what if’ scenario.”
Providing focus for integration meetings
“Our TILOS is used in every integration meeting – we can’t go ahead until we have produced it. Because every single person in the team has a TILOS output in front of them, we’re all talking the same language. There are usually at least 12 people at each meeting, including delivery managers, planners, construction managers and others. It puts everyone on the same page.”
Essential for high-level reporting
“TILOS is so valuable that it has been used for the past year in the official board report for each project period. It’s easy to create ‘what if’ scenarios so we run two versions of the programme: the non-mitigated and the mitigated version for the board.
“We have used the ‘what if’ scenario planning capability of TILOS in our QRSA risk analysis and reporting process. Each quarter, we run a risk analysis and model two scenarios, which assume 50% and 80% of identified risks occur. This year we started modelling these programmes, called P50 and P80, in TILOS. People can now see the comparison on a single page between our baseline, our current forecast and the P50 or P80 forecasts, along with the impact on completion timeframes.”
Effortless programme planning data exchange
“The easy and automated integration with our programme planning software is ideal. We programme in another software package, but TILOS has the amazing capability to suck all the information out and create an output automatically. Without this automation, we would never be able to turn around such a quick representation of our plans. The planning maturity and the TILOS template we have evolved in the past few years mean that for each TILOS output, it only takes us 10 minutes to create the PDF.
“Speed is essential when we integrate the programmes. Each period, there is a ‘data date’ by which all contractors must report their progress. Then there is a short time of checking and manipulating, accepting or rejecting information. Once that ends, from the point that data is locked down in the programme planning software each period, we have less than a day to generate the summary programme and our integrated TILOS view, ready for the integration meeting. Because of the TILOS integration with the planning software, we can generate everything really quickly.
“We don’t use TILOS for most of the month, but on that single day it is critical – it can exchange information with the planning software, and produce the output automatically and quickly, so we don’t have to do any slow data input or typing.”
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