Digital Construction Awards: MWH Treatment wins Digital Innovation in Design

The MWH team receive their award from host Russell Kane (far right) and sponsor Justin Stanton of BIMplus (second left). (Photo: ASV Photography Ltd.)
MWH Treatment’s digital strategy on the Thames Gateway (Desalination) Recovery Project facilitated collaboration and stakeholder engagement and secured victory in the Digital Innovation in Design category, sponsored by BIMplus, at the Digital Construction Awards last night (12 July).

MWH Treatment was part of the SMB joint venture with Skanska and Balfour Beatty that was contracted by Thames Water to work on this project at the UK’s only desalination plant.

The JV was tasked with making health and safety improvements, optimising maintenance procedures and consumable storage, and creating further efficiencies across the desalination process as part of a £23m investment.

The desalination process is complex compared with a conventional water treatment plant, and limited data on existing assets or operational records were available at the outset.

To address these challenges, MWH Treatment developed a digital strategy to facilitate a collaborative approach, centred around its MView software, which was piloted on the project.

The digital journey began with a BlueSky aerial photogrammetry 3D model, which was used to generate the animation to communicate scope and hazards to stakeholders. The model was enhanced through 3D scanning, which provided point cloud data to support detailed engineering design.

“MView sounds like it has been a game changer, providing analysis to drive optimal design, which also mitigates health and safety risks. It will be interesting to see how this develops.”

What the judges said

MWH Treatment digitally validated the specification, condition and function of every asset and control system on the site. Asset data was collected in an app-based Autodesk BIM360 cloud database. A bespoke software test rig was built to verify existing processes and fault-find.

The data gathered was fed into the engineering design and plant optimisation. Using MView, the design team created 3D animations that simulated water treatment processes. The simulations integrated process calculations and safety factors to visually demonstrate root causes of process failure and validate enhanced operation of the plant.

Where solutions required heavy construction and logistics, 4D simulations were used to visualise the build programme and methodology to support collaborative planning between parties.

Padraic McCormack, digital delivery manager for the Thames Gateway project, reflected on the reasons for their success: "Our ability to think outside the box, innovate, and our great technologists who take the gaming side of the software development and utilises that in construction to break the boundaries of what we can do.”

Digital Innovation in Design shortlist:
  • Analysing human emotional responses to building and space design | Chetwoods
  • East Bank, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park | Allies and Morrison
  • East Wick & Sweetwater | astudio & Etude
  • Frilford Heath Staircase and Cabinetry | Future Joinery Systems with Casa Architects, JPT Carpentry, 4D Routing and Sydenhams
  • LightSIM Controls App | Hoare Lea
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