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Effective planning tool contributed to project completion 3.5 months ahead of schedule

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Bird's eye view of road construction

There are many reasons why AF Gruppen are using Tilos as a planning tool in large road- and tunnel projects.

“It is the largest project I have worked with so far” says Anton Brandtzaeg, Technical Manager at AF Groups, the general contractor’s civil construction division.

Anton Brandtzaeg at Contractor company, AF Gruppen
Anton Brandtzaeg at Contractor company, AF Gruppen

The project he is talking about is the new 23 km, 4 lane motorway, E18 Tvedestrand-Arendal in Norway, with a contract value of 320 M€.

As a general contractor responsible for both design and construction, AF needs to relate to the customer and a large number of sub-contractors and consultants. 

The project, completed in 2019, consisted of 4 double pipe road tunnels, 25 bridges, 9 culverts and mass haul of 10 millions cubic meters of rock- and soil. At the most intensive period about 800 people were working on the project.

When the road was finished in the summer of 2019, only 30 months had passed since the start of the construction and it was 3,5 months ahead of schedule. The usage of appropriate planning tools is one part of making it possible to open the road ahead of time.

“In the high level planning, we've benefited from using Tilos”, Anton Brandtzaeg tells us.

Tilos linear schedule is more intuitive than a Gantt-chart

Everyone who has been working on an infrastructure project surely remembers all the Gantt-chart pinned to the walls of the office. Today's planning tools give an overview in a totally different way. This overview is a key factor to an efficient planning process with a higher level of control of time and costs.

Cowi team on Quantm training
Geir Andersen, Trimble, Tilos Product Manager

Trimble Tilos (TIme LOcation System) is tailor made for alignment based “long” projects such as roads, tunnels, railways, power lines or pipelines. Because Tilos has both a time and a location axis it is easy to see complex relationships between resource allocation both on time and locational.

“By both coordinating and visualizing the allocation of resources, Tilos gives you an easier understanding of time and location, by optimizing the use of resources compared to traditional Gantt-chart.” Says Geir Andersen, product manager for Tilos.

Tilos combines time schedules, plan drawings, cross sections, profiles, mass data and histograms in a complete time-location based presentation view. 
There are many advantages in getting everything put together in this way. But the most key advantage to forecast potential problems. Is there one thing we know about infrastructure projects, it is that not everything  goes as you plan, Geir Andersen adds.

One common perception

Anton Brandtzaeg at AF highlights the value of planning from a time-, resource and locational perspective.

“I’m not sure that Tilos is applicable for all types of projects. But when it comes to larger alignment based projects, such as roads and tunnels, it is a powerful tool to give you a project overview, says Brandtzaeg before he continues. A Gantt-chart with many pages soon grows out of hand and you lose the overview. When all the information is put in one page it is easier to see where conflicts may occur and how we can solve those conflicts.

By making changes in the Tilos diagram you can try out different scenarios and it can help you in the decision making process.

“The visual comparison between alternative solutions gives much better communication between different levels in the project”, Brandtzaeg points out.

 “This has definitely an extra value in projects with many different stakeholders involved. Many people are required to use other project planning tools and use Tilos as a complement”, says Geir Andersen.

“What I think is most fantastic about time location planning tools, is that you put a lot of information in and still get a result that is easy to understand. This also makes it easier for me to explain to others in my organization when changes are made”, says Jan Åge Hartvik Knutsen, project manager at Nye Veier, the project owner of the Norwegian highway project.

Efficient cost management

Beside Tilos, Oracle's Primavera P6 and Microsoft Project are the most common project planning tools. With Tilos, you can easily import data from other planning tools. Tilos is also highly compatible with Trimbles other solutions such as Quadri, Geir Andersen explains.
When a project is running there are other strengths in Tilos coming up, then in the design and planning phase.

“While seeing everything in a bigger picture it is easy to avoid situations that lead to delays. Instead of letting a team wait, you are able to re-allocate resources on the site. This improves the progress control and cost control, says Geir Andersen.

From Brandtzaegs perspective, the benefit of using Tilos is high both in the tender phase, and during design- and construction phase.

“As a contractor we do all the planning and enter the information needed to perform different priorities. A clear and understandable visual plan always gives us a good foundation for decision making.”

Effective mass haul process

Tilos screenshot
Tilos combines time schedules, plan drawings, cross sections, profiles, mass data and histograms in a complete time-location based presentation view.

One of the main challenges in larger infrastructure projects is the mass haul, and to perform the earthworks and transportation in a sustainable way. Tilos has built-in functionality to optimize the mass haul process and make it an effective process. 
In tunnels you always run into zones with crying quality of the rock, Geir Andersen tells us. These different zones affect the progress of the tunnel. You can add this type of data into Tilos and run different scenarios.

AF has used the mass haul functionality to some degree in their projects so far.

But, what aspect of Tilos has the most benefit? That depends on who you ask, says Brandtzaeg. In my point of view, interoperability with other systems is one of the main benefits. This is because many of our customers have a high amount of requirements regarding reporting and, the interoperability is of great value, Anton Brandzaeg sums up. 
Anton Brandtzaeg is currently involved in a larger tunnel project in Stockholm where AF Gruppen builds a 6 km double pipe road tunnel and 7 km of ramp tunnels. Here, Tilos is also a part of the company's toolbox for project planning.