Transport Infrastructure Efficiency Strategy (TIES) Living Lab

Using real-world demonstrators to modernise the way we build infrastructure.

Last updated: 18th August 2021

Date uploaded:

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Innovation Lead: Sherrie Rad
Project number: 106171
UKRI funding: £6,300,000

Website:
tieslivinglab.co.uk/


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Summary

Department for Transport (DfT) delivers large, complex infrastructure projects. To increase value and reduce inefficiencies, DfT has recruited 25 partners across industry to create a new model for infrastructure builds. Through a series of live demonstrators, the Transport Infrastructure Efficiency Strategy Living Lab (TIES Living Lab) is testing Modern Methods of Construction and digital and data-driven technologies to improve forecasting, planning and benchmarking. In doing so, DfT hopes to drive down delivery times, increase productivity, reduce carbon impact and create safer sites for construction workers on large-scale infrastructure programmes.

Innovation type: Digital, Manufacturing, Offsite, Process, Procurement
Organisation type: Construction tier 1 contractors, Government client, Innovative SME, Research centre, Supply chain

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Project pioneers

The Department for Transport (DfT) wants to deliver greater value from its projects, removing processes that add cost but not value. Driven by this value-led approach, the team is looking to identify those aspects and remove or improve them where possible.

The problem

The government’s pipeline of major projects is becoming increasingly complex and challenging, and capacity to deliver these projects is being stretched. The multiple stakeholders involved in transport infrastructure brings a wide range of processes and approaches, some of which are inconsistent. Occasions have previously arisen where projects do not have benchmarks to work towards or compare against, or there have been unreliable estimates of cost and schedule timings which lowers the certainty in projects.

Vision

Transport Infrastructure Efficiency Strategy (TIES) Living Lab is a large-scale programme to demonstrate a more efficient model for infrastructure builds. Physical demonstrators, digital demonstrators and data tools will show how standardised approaches, Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), improved information management and resilient data-sharing can make transport infrastructure better value for money, safer, greener, and more productive during design, construction and operation. Benchmarking intelligence will also help shift the focus in infrastructure delivery decision-making from cost of construction to an understanding of value across the whole asset life cycle. Ultimately, this project will inform investment decisions around impact and value. Being about to improve the delivery and whole-life performance of economic infrastructure such as transport networks will be crucial to UK productivity and green recovery.

Key Insight

Recent research from Infrastructure and Projects Authority found that for every £1 billion spent delivering infrastructure, only £400-£500 million of that is spent optimally. The Transport Infrastructure Efficiency Strategy (TIES) Living Lab's goal is to make the construction and operation of transport infrastructure all about data: extracting it, using it, demonstrating it, benchmarking it, and embedding it within business cases - and the Transforming Construction Challenge gave DfT the opportunity to gather the data it needed to reset the approach to delivering major economic infrastructure.

First step

TIES Living Lab kicked off with 25 partners coming together with Government, i3P and the Construction Innovation Hub to show their commitment to taking a standardised, optimised, value-based approach to transport infrastructure and establish best practice. The consortium is developing a series of demonstrator projects to showcase how data, technology and Modern Methods of Construction within live transport infrastructure projects can deliver significant value-adding benefits such as greater productivity and reduced carbon emissions.

Barrier

There are uncertainties prevalent in the delivery of major infrastructure that impact decision making and lead to inefficiencies. Increased access to data, and improved information management and benchmarking, will create greater certainty. This will in turn support value-based decision-making, increase the adoption of innovation and improve industry best practice - shifting the focus from lowest cost to whole-life value.

Process innovation

TIES Living Lab physical demonstrators are trialling a number of Modern Methods of Construction. One key project is testing the AVA footbridge for use over rail infrastructure at stations. It is an adaptable metal footbridge designed to fit any station and any situation. It uses standardised kit of parts that can be digitally configured and will have a longer service life, lower running costs, will look good and will provide reliable access for all. Other MMC demonstrators include:

  • Automating Cable Route Management System Designs for the tube network. 3D scans can analyse the existing tunnel surface to avoid sending workers into harm in dark damp tunnels, and determine available space for new cable routing. The system can then evaluate the surface for suitability in cable routing, effectively creating a heat map of the tunnel surface to identify risk and opportunity.
  • Tackling the heating issues in Tube Networks. This is a passive structure with a curved lining, and with no moving parts and no requirement for manual cleaning. It is being trialled in Herne House (Acton), at a disused station near Tower Hill and in an operational environment in Knightsbridge station.
  • Creating the new generic standard for Equipment Rooms. These shipping container-sized rooms can sit in dangerous environments, track or roadside, and provide a plug-and-play data centre and equipment room for site teams. They widely improve efficiency, improve health and safety, reduce disruptions onsite and minimise environmental impact. 

Digital Innovation

Data tools and digital demonstrators make up another part of the TIES Living Lab. Key will be the development of a centralised repository for metrics benchmarking, which will accommodate all TIES Living Lab projects whole life performance data - including cost, time, productivity, environment and social value.​ The partners are using AI for data mining to facilitate data analysis through AI classification and mapping into a common methods of measurement (such as the International Construction Measurement Standard 2). This will provide strategic insight and tangible recommendations as to what drives cost, duration and carbon/environment performance within projects.​ An intelligent infrastructure control centre (IICC) will create a secure cloud platform to provide projects with the latest, greenest, safest and most cost-effective way to design, deliver or operate transport infrastructure projects. The IICC will help DfT and TIES partners automatically feed in data from major design and construction projects so they can visualise and analyse it. Advanced Logistics will assist the smart planning of advanced offsite logistics for offsite construction and management, ensuring just-in-time delivery of systems and components to construction sites. Kier and Akerlof are also working on a SMART Infrastructure Calculator that measures the social value from transport infrastructure projects. The calculator is being adapted for use on HS2 and opening up of previously closed rail lines.

Whole life innovation

To help embed whole-life value into delivery of large-scale infrastructure, the TIES Living Lab is exploring a number of different toolkits and frameworks. For example, a Treasury Green Book-compliant toolkit is being developed for the high-speed rail programmes to identify and advise on the factors necessary to ensure quality and value.

Collaborators

The TIES Living Lab is being led by Department of Transport, which has heavily co-invested in this programme, along with contributions from HS2, Transport for London, Network Rail and Highways England, and support from i3P. The 25 partners involved are: NSAR; MTC; Costain; University of Leeds; University of Dundee; Whole Life Construction; Network Rail Infrastructure; Bryden Wood Technologies; University of The West Of England; Highways England; HS2; RICS; Transport For London Finance; Expedition Engineering; Kier Construction; Social Profit Calculator; Accelar; Strategic Rail Consultants; Powercube; X-Treme Systems; DfT; Akerlof; Office of National Statistics; Walker Construction; East West Rail.

  • Accelar
  • Akerlof
  • Bryden Wood
  • Costain
  • Department for Transport
  • East West Rail
  • Expedition Engineering
  • HS2
  • Highways England
  • Kier
  • MTC
  • NSar
  • Network Rail
  • Office of National Statistics
  • Powercube
  • RICS
  • Socia Profit Calculator
  • Strategic Rail Consultants
  • Transport for London
  • University of Dundee
  • University of Leeds
  • University of the West of England
  • Walker Construction
  • Whole Life Construction
  • X-Treme Systems
  • i3P

Lead support

As well as funding, Transforming Construction and Innovate UK are supporting the project by enabling data capture and best practice sharing across the partners.

Long Term Vision

Transport Infrastructure Efficiency Strategy (TIES) Living Lab will demonstrate a more efficient model for infrastructure builds. A series of live demonstrators will show how use of MMC, and digital and data-driven process can make transport infrastructure better value-for money, safer, greener, and more productive during design, construction and operation. Being about to improve the delivery and whole-life performance of economic infrastructure such as transport networks will be crucial to UK productivity and green recovery, and will drive greater long-term value for taxpayers, infrastructure users and better investment decisions within government.

Human Stories

The demonstrators are showing ways of reducing the need for workers onsite or removing them entirely from hazardous working environments. This will keep people safer and minimise disruption to transport users as well. The demonstrators are also focused on improving the transport experience for end users, such as making travel on the Tube more enjoyable through cooling panels, or by providing footbridges that are easier to access and maintain.

Powerful Processes

TIES Living Lab kicked off with 25 partners coming together with Government, i3P and the Construction Innovation Hub to show their commitment to taking a standardised, optimised, value-based approach to transport infrastructure and establish best practice. The consortium is developing a series of demonstrator projects to showcase how data, technology and Modern Methods of Construction within live transport infrastructure projects can deliver significant value-adding benefits such as greater productivity and reduced carbon emissions.

Fascinating Facts

The TIES Living Lab is being led by DfT with contributions from HS2, Transport for London, Network Rail and Highways England. 25 partners have come together on this programme making it an ambitious and rare collaboration. It unites academia, businesses big and small, arms-length bodies and government around the common theme of making transport infrastructure smarter, greener, more productive, and better value-for-money. In one demonstrator, the AVA footbridge project expects its approach will reduce embodied carbon content by up to 50%, and operational energy emissions by up to 60%.

Benefits

Assurance
One of the TIES Living Labs projects (Identifying drivers of project performance) will be providing strategic insight into what can improve performance in projects. The partners are establishing a holistic approach to the analytical tools for benchmarking, drawing together data requirements and assessing value using a road map for the routine benchmarking of future TIES demonstrators. For each TIES project, they will understand the relationships between the causes and effects and how different decisions lead to different sustainability outcomes using a range of appropriate analytical tools (including causal chain analysis and logic modelling).

Collaboration
The scale of this 25-partner programme is ambitious and rare. It unites academia, businesses big and small, arms-length bodies and government around the common theme of making transport infrastructure smarter, greener, more productive, and better value-for-money.

Emissions
Individual projects all bring about greater benefits around emissions. For example, the footbridge project expects its approach will reduce embodied carbon content by up to 50%, and operational energy emissions by up to 60%. Removing heat from the underground is a big issue for DfL and so the TIES Living Lab is trialling tube cooling panels - which is essentially a giant cold radiator. It's a passive structure with a curved lining, and with no moving parts and no requirement for manual cleaning. It is being trialled in Herne House (Acton), at a disused station near Tower Hill and in an operational environment in Knightsbridge station.

Regional Balance
The SMART Infrastructure Calculator can support the business case development for using suppliers and teams in the most deprived parts of the country - leading to better social and economic outcomes where they are most needed. This works by assessing the socio-economic value generated by historic construction projects, and so can predict the future value of the current project based on multiple criteria, such as build type (MMC or conventional), location of the project and level of investment.

Safety
One of the most dangerous activities for workers is when they have to go on the tracks. The Cable Route Management System Project within TIES Living Lab will help automate mapping of the cables on the tube, which will reduce the need and amount of time required for working on tracks. A digital system will 3D scan and analyse the existing tunnel surface to determine available space for new cable routing. The system can then evaluate the surface for suitability in cable routing, effectively creating a heat map of the tunnel surface to identify risks, opportunities and the level of effort involved. As a result, the number of site visits needed will be reduced, installation times will be cut drastically, and the need to work at height will be cut as well. Similarly, through encouraging the implementation of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) and reducing the amount of work done onsite throughout transport infrastructure, we can make people safer. Some of the most common causes of accidents are as a result of lifting or working from height or the need for scaffolding – all of which is minimised through MMC.

Time
The Advanced Logistics project seeks to deliver an end-to-end digital innovative platform that provides a flexible and all-inclusive connected solution by harnessing digital twin technology and Internet of things. This will assist in smart planning of offsite logistics activities to ensure just-in-time delivery of manufactured items to construction sites. This will schedule an asset’s production by seamlessly accessing timely and accurate information about when an asset needs to be manufactured and delivered onsite. This will prevent late production of an asset that jeopardises on-time delivery to the site.

Whole-life Value
The SMART Infrastructure Calculator will enable the assessment and visualisation of social value to identify the whole life value of construction projects, not just onsite but also at manufacturing locations through the supply chain. Additionally, the tool will support comparative analyses of the business cases for traditional construction delivery vs MMC.