Operational Planning & Optimisation Tool for Thames Water

In a dynamic operational environment such as sludge treatment, scorecards and root-cause analysis cannot make the leap from siloed thinking to end-to-end decision-making. BMA provided a forward-looking production-planning capability with a 5-year forward-looking horizon within which short- and medium-term planning and scenario testing is undertaken on a daily basis.

The Need

Thames Water required a decision support planning tool that would support the end-to-end planning of their sludge management and treatment activities. They needed to be able to plan from short-term daily activities up to medium-term monthly / quarterly operational decisions. A principle requirement was to manage all activities from one holistic solution which was capable of planning and optimising the entire business process. The ability to see how short-term decisions impacted on the requirements for longer term investment, and vice versa, was a key requirement for Thames Water.

The Approach

Thames Water treats and distributes drinking water to 9 million people and disposes of waste water from a population of 15 million throughout London and the Thames Valley. Thames Water recognised that traditional planning tools would not be able to provide a solution to such complex planning tasks. The new system need not only to optimise the end-to-end system but also balance costs, resources, capacity, logistics and the introduction of new available assets. Thames Water engaged Business Modelling Associates (BMA) to implement their decision-support tool, the SludgeOps DST within their operations process. Underpinned by leading edge analytics, the SludgeOps DST provides data driven planning and management of the sludge treatment process.

The Solution

In a dynamic operational environment such as sludge treatment, scorecards and root-cause analysis were not able to help Thames Water make the leap from siloed thinking to end-to-end decision making. BMA implemented the SludgeOps DST to provide a forward-looking production-planning capability. Typically, previous approaches to sludge management had relied on analysis and reporting of historical data supported by conventional business scorecards but the downside of this approach was that it provided limited forward-looking insights. The SludgeOps DST provides a 5 year forward looking horizon within which short and medium-term planning and scenario testing is undertaken. The cloud based solution is accessed securely over the internet via a platform independent user interface configured to Thames Water’s requirements. The solution is delivering benefits and is being used daily.

“The SludgeOPS DST has given Thames Water the ability to create short and medium term operational and financial plans that supports the Asset Management Planning (AMP) process and in year budgetary planning. Through the use of Prescriptive Analytics we have been able to realistically and accurately model our end-to-end sludge operations process. Constraint based planning has allowed us to compare and analyses various scenarios before they occur. This tool has been instrumental in identifying OPEX reductions to the value of circa £7.5 M as well as enabling the realisation of this saving through the short term operational planning components of the solution.”

Garry Strange

Bioresource & Energy Strategy Manager, Thames Water


  • Thames Water can create optimal feasible short and medium-term dynamic plans rapidly. This supports proactive and reactive (event/crisis) planning for operational risk management and mitigation.
  • Multiple what-if scenarios can be created at short notice by Thames Water users and compared side-by-side with other scenarios via multiple dashboards.
  • Scheduled scenarios are run automatically allowing Thames Water to test final short-term production plans and determine how the truly optimal plan has been impacted on by events or business policy.
  • The SludgeOps DST has identified an achievable OPEX cost reduction of the order of £7.5 million per annum.
  • Thames Water believe such saving can be made across the business areas including: inter-siting and demurrage, energy, chemicals, and more efficient treatment.

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