THINKLab rail partnership wins national prize

By Nov.11, 2016

ThinkLab Rail Award Team

L to R: Roy Hickman and Ben Gillespie (Network Rail), Steve Neybour (S&C Alliance), Terrence Fernando (THINKlab Director)

DIGITAL technology to ease the planning of Britain’s rail upgrades has won a national award for industry.

The 4-D simulation developed with S&C South Alliance for Network rail scooped Most Outstanding Building Information Modelling project at the Constructing Excellence awards in London.

Network Rail recently signed a new contract with the University to roll the technology out across the country after successful series of trials. The technology was developed by School of the Built Environment’s THINKLab, which creates virtual models and simulations for a host of industries.

The Director of THINKLab, Professor Terrence Fernando said: “We are thrilled to win this prestige national ward from the Contruction Excellence.  We were up against large companies, but we managed to win because  our innovative IT solution introduced a new way of working to reduce waste and improve efficiency of large railway projects. We hope to build on this success to bring further innovation to the building construction sector.”

Network Rail had been frequently experiencing programme overruns of its track renewals due to planning errors, costing millions of pounds and causing severe disruption to passengers. It has described the new package as a ‘game-changer’ in network planning, saving them time and money in scheduling upgrades.

The inability to effectively schedule works on complex sites was a major factor in projects overrunning.   THINKLab technologists helped Network Rail create 4-D simulations, meaning the tool can be is used for visualising and scheduling of tasks to the minute over a time period, allowing them to run different scenarios  for pre-work briefings and post-work evaluation.

“I have been planning track renewals for 17 years and this has blown me away,” says Stephen Kearney a site manager for Network Rail. “It’s suitable for small planning schemes as well as major programmes over a number of years.”

Nathan Lord, site manager at S&C South Alliance said the possibilities of the package were “unbelievable” and it gave them the confidence to know their planning for deliver more efficiency at lower cost. Head of Transformation at S&C South Alliance Steve Naybour said “this is a 4D planning package for now that will take us into the future of delivering more”

Judges at Constructing Excellence said the technology “has the potential to be applied across the rail industry both in the UK and internationally and is an “outstanding example of a technology and digital approach being applied to drive better incomes – not just for construction and industry – but for wider society as well.”

THINKLab’s 4D BIM Track Renewal project beat off six other finalists:

– Priority Schools Building Programme (North East), The Meadows Project (E Mids), Habberley Learning Campus (W Mids), The Faculty of Business & Law University of West of England (South-West), Land Rover BAR America’s Cup HQ (South East), East Riding Leisure, Bridlington (YH) and Holywell Learning Campus (Wales).

Follow the THINKLab on Twitter

See how the package works in this company video.

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