London’s sewer system was constructed over 150 years ago for a population less than half its current size. As a result, millions of tonnes of untreated sewage spills into the River Thames each year. Thames Tideway is constructing a £4.2bn ‘super sewer’, a 25km tunnel under London that will intercept, store and transfer sewage waste. On completion, this will prevent tens of millions of tonnes of sewerage pollution overflowing into the River Thames every year.
Three sections make up this mega-project; West (BMB JV: BAM Nuttall, Morgan Sindall & Balfour Beatty), Central (FLO JV: Ferrovial & Laing O'Rourke) and East (CVB JV: Costain, Vinci and Bachy Soletache).
"For me, being able to connect two massive JVs (CVB & FLO) and make sure we’re all on the same page, working on one simple, intuitive platform - despite different cultures, perspectives and methodologies - is the biggest benefit of Aphex Planner".
- Ignacio Tognaccini, Agent, FLO JV
Like many other construction sites, the teams did the absolute best they could with the tools available and used spreadsheets to manage their critical lookahead and coordination planning every week. With the scale and complexity of projects like Acton Storm Tanks and Carnwath Road Riverside, coordinating the work and avoiding the cost of delays takes on whole new importance. But like most projects, the teams kept records across various systems and formats. This makes the job of gathering evidence of delays a challenge of its own, before even beginning the process of analysing project performance.
Since the introduction of Planner, the team has been able to automate and standardise the process of tracking project data. As each team member update their section of the plan, delay and sources of the delay are collected in a seamless process that provides them with objective and accurate data which can be analysed and relied on for making decisions.
Since scrapping manual processes and implementing Planner, the team at Acton Storm Tanks have halved the time spent each week updating the plan! While over at Carnwath Road, senior members of the team frequently meet to review project performance with Planner’s data at the centre of the discussion. The analytics are used to start at high-level performance and efficiently drill down to the root cause of each day of delay, “in seconds, it’s possible to dig down to the level of detail that would take hours on spreadsheets”.
“Planner has halved the time I spend every week updating the plan”.
- Michelle Murphy, Section Engineer, BMB JV
“Planner ensures we are always collecting actual project data. This is critical to understanding the root-causes of issues, and driving objective discussions on how recurrence can be stopped.”
- Phil Evans, Planner, BMB JV
With multiple complex structures on the project, the team needs to be ready to resequence works as soon as an issue arises to keep the project on track. With works across 3 cofferdams there are a lot of moving pieces to keep track of. It's critical for the success of the project that the planning team can develop the most efficient plans across the project and have engineering teams help build and execute short term plans that deliver each of the sections on time.
Previously, as work progressed on-site sections of the plan would be updated in silos before being consolidated, any conflicts in sequence requiring additional rounds of back-and-forth editing. Now, as the team update their lookahead on Planner, the impact of changes are seen in real-time across the entire plan that everyone has visibility of.
Being cloud-based and with a user-centric interface, Planner gives the engineers access to a centralised plan that they can easily maintain. This allows collaborative short-term plans to be developed by the whole team, which has really improved communication and ownership over their sections.
“Planner is the go-to for understanding what needs to be done instead of only relying on word-of-mouth”.
- Alex Wellington, Project Planner, FLO JV
When lockdown first hit, the team were sent home immediately and felt uncertainty around their new way of working. Thames Tideway acted as an industry leader and financially secured the project, but there was still a huge challenge around online communication. The construction industry - as many of us know - is often reluctant to get online and there was a lot of uncertainty around the ‘new normal’.
As well as trying to balance their work life and personal life, the team also had to find a new routine for communication. Relying on Microsoft Teams led to misunderstandings and chasing people for updates. However, when paired Aphex Planner, the team were able to collaborate on the plan and find their 'new normal'.
Using Planner during lockdown resulted in a lot more behavioural accountability, as everyone was in charge of their own program. The team took full ownership of their plan, thought ahead and planned in detail so that they could hit the ground running when they returned to site.