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Innovative Software For National Grid

22 November 2012

Costain is pioneering the use of innovative web-based software to ensure the lights stay on in the UK’s largest and busiest city.

Tunnel Information Management, or TIM, has been developed by The Commercial Applications Company with and for London Bridge Associates (LBA), a Strategic Partner of Costain, and is now being employed on the London Power Tunnels project for National Grid.

Costain won the £220m contract in 2010 to build the new HV cable tunnels between Hackney and Willesden (via St John’s Wood) and Kensal Green and Wimbledon. The new tunnels are essential for ensuring London has sufficient transmission infrastructure to support future energy demand.

TIM provides real time quality information and allows the site team to make production management and maintenance decisions quickly and accurately by focussing valuable time and effort on areas that can make a real difference to the success of the project.

The project includes the construction of 32km of 4.0mID and 3.0mID tunnels, which are being driven by two new tunnel boring machines (TBMs) working at an average depth of between 30 and 40 metres.

Therefore, being able to check on the team’s progress and analyse any potential problems before they happen is vital to its success.

“We believe the gathering and analysis of high quality data provides the foundation for improving our operational performance. Using TIM allows us to keep on top of what we are doing by highlighting areas for continuous improvement,” said Andrew Firth, Project Manager.

Data is inputted into the TBMs via an internet link as the shift progresses, which reduces the need for paper records. The system is web-based and can be accessed from any location by multiple users simultaneously and can be accessed from a tablet or smart phone. User access to specific data is clearly defined with a permission to read, write or delete information, while the data is securely backed up and saved every three hours. Furthermore, data is based around coded activities that allow for easy analysis, and also includes quality and other information.

TIM uses the data to create reports on progress, delay analysis, quality, geology, consumables usage and key performance indicators (KPIs), all of which are available on a real time basis. Pdf reports can be automatically generated and distributed by email and tabulated data can be exported to Excel for further analysis. Early warnings are highlighted on screen and can be emailed to specific members of staff while the home page includes a map showing the current TBM locations for display in the site offices and visitor centre.

TIM reports are then analysed by the Construction and Engineering teams in the Daily Review Meeting. The team’s performance, and that of the TBMs, over the previous 24 hours is reviewed and actions for improvement are assigned.  Weekly progress and section meetings similarly use TIM reports to drive improvement. The accumulated information then assists with handover records and can provide continuing information to asset owners, operators and maintenance personnel.

Commenting on TIM, John Trounson, National Grid’s Senior Project Manager for Capital Delivery, said:  “National Grid is always looking for new ways to innovate in order to enhance safety performance and improve efficiency.  In providing real time information, the TIM system is an essential tool in identifying operational constraints which can help us to improve in both these areas whilst providing a contemporary record of the tunnel drives.”