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How VisiLean helped Mace streamline construction works at Heathrow Airport

by BDigital_Admin

Mace has been delivering infrastructure upgrades at Heathrow Airport for 30 years. Recently, they enlisted VisiLean to boost efficiency and streamline the planning process across multiple projects at the airport. Let’s take a look at the results…

With passenger traffic set to double by 2035, the pressure on airports and their associated infrastructure is mounting. As airports become more like small cities, masterplans must accommodate passenger growth not only by adding terminal space but also by adding supporting infrastructure.

Heathrow, known as the ‘hub of the civil aviation world’, is one of the world’s busiest airports, and is currently undergoing a series of challenging upgrades with the aim of future-proofing the airport for years to come.

To maximise airline revenues and maintain reputation, the airport must minimise disruptions, delays or negative impacts on the passenger experience as a result of these upgrades. It’s a careful balancing act.

For this, Mace, one of the leading contractors in the UK, was appointed to provide consultancy, logistics and contracting services to deliver the various projects across Heathrow Airport.  

As part of Heathrow’s expansion, Mace appointed construction software provider VisiLean to help drive their PPCS (Production Planning and Control System) process towards efficient, safe, and timely delivery of these projects.  

The projects range from improved cargo management and security upgrades to introducing new air-bridges and balcony areas within Terminals T1, T3, and T5.

Map showing some of the Heathrow terminal projects using VisiLean

But how does one avoid interrupting the 24/7 operation of an airport like Heathrow while expanding the infrastructure? This brings us to the major challenges and how deploying VisiLean helped with the solution.

The challenge

Undertaking works at Heathrow is very demanding: projects must adhere to strict aviation safety protocols, adapt to a high-level of project complexity and collaborate extensively with the supply chain.

During their projects at Heathrow, Mace grappled with labour-intensive manual processes that led to poor coordination, experienced limited collaboration between it and other teams, and were using multiple tools that weren’t adding value. The team were spending 20 hours a week just on the planning a review process alone.   

This posed a huge issue for Mace, which is why the enlisted the help of VisiLean. VisiLean provided a common platform for the supply chain, as demonstrated with the success of the first pilot which was rolled out on 14 projects over a 6 month period.

The VisiLean team worked closely with the team on the ground to define and align processes with tools. They also set up a standard process across different projects, which helped align the subcontractors.

The planning

VisiLean is a single source of truth that combines a master P6® plan with the production-level plans from the suppliers. As a part of the forward-thinking planning process, the team mapped 20+ constraints – approvals, design, RAMs, labour, etc. – every week, to make their work ready.

The execution

Real-time progress updates from the suppliers greatly reduced manual errors and variability and increased the flow of valuable information for the teams to take the right decisions. The teams reviewed the exact status of the work on the live 4D BIM models.

Monitoring and control

As a part of the Mace-PPCS process, the team measured the performance of the suppliers by constantly reviewing the constraints, weekly work plans, and progress updates and captured the reasons for variances in project improvement. One of the important metrics used by the team for continuous improvement was the Percent Plan Complete (PPC).

With VisiLean and its capability to create custom dashboards, the team was able to review their workflows for its successes and failures, from real-time updates captured from the project site.

This resulted in an integrated project delivery with VisiLean being the single source of truth.

Proven Results

When VisiLean was implemented, there was improved work clarity, and zero variability. The reams of paper were eliminated. The planning process was streamlined and provided a steady flow of information. There was better project control with real-time updates. VisiLean reduced the planning process from 20 hours a week to eight.

A Build in Digital stakeholder, VisiLean is an innovative cloud-based lean production management solution for the construction industry.

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