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Global leaders know, the linear scheduling method is the quickest and most effective way to plan, optimize, schedule and execute complex linear projects.

Because the linear scheduling method both incorporates and optimizes for the many complex variables present with linear infrastructure projects, it stands alone as the methodology that produces complete and reliable linear project schedules.

As such, the automation of the linear scheduling method is at the core of the functionality of TILOS linear scheduling software.

What is the linear scheduling method?

The Linear Scheduling Method is a graphical scheduling method that focuses on continuous use of resources, in a repetitive manner, along both a time and a distance axis, along the optimal Right of Way (ROW.)


The graphical representation of the linear scheduling method is often called a Time-Distance diagram

Depending on the country, language and culture, you may use a different name for the linear scheduling method.

Some of the popular terms that have been adopted to refer to what is now known as the linear scheduling method are:

  • Time Distance Diagram
  • Time Location Diagram
  • Time Chainage Plans
  • French Diagram
  • March Chart
  • Location-based scheduling
  • Line-of-balance
  • Flowline or flow line
  • Repetitive scheduling method
  • Vertical production method
  • Time-location matrix model
  • Time space scheduling method
  • Disturbance scheduling
  • Horizontal and vertical logic scheduling for multistory projects
  • Horizontal and vertical scheduling
  • Multiple repetitive construction process
  • Representing construction
  • Linear scheduling
  • Time versus distance diagrams (T-D charts)
  • Time chainage
  • Linear balance charts
  • Velocity diagrams


Project management and the linear scheduling method

Project planning & scheduling managers, construction managers and project managers at construction, engineering and project owner companies have found the linear scheduling method to be the most effective way to create and execute an infrastructure project plan.

Linear infrastructure construction project managers such as those on highway and road projects, pipeline projects, railway projects and even power line infrastructure most benefit from the emphasis on continuous use of resources in a repetitive fashion.


What makes the linear scheduling method different than other location-based scheduling methods?

What’s unique about the linear scheduling method is that the rate of progress of each crew is critical and evaluated to ensure adequate spacing between activities in maintained.

If crews cross over because the work rate of the successor crew is greater than the predecessor, then a clash occurs. The Linear Scheduling method makes it possible to identify clashes so that work rates, lag time between crews or distances between crews can be adjusted to eliminate clashes.

The overall progress or sequence of activities is of a lesser concern than optimizing the productivity rates to minimize the total time.

Additionally, the graphical element of the linear scheduling method is beneficial as it provides a visual resource which communicates both the macro perspective of the entirety of project, as well as the micro view – specifics like what work has been done where.

An example of a time location diagram:

Activities in time location diagrams are displayed along both a time axis and a distance axis according to their relative linear position.

Then, the location of the activity and the direction of progress and the progress rate are shown.

Crews, equipment and their activities are displayed graphically, as shapes occupying the work site over time, so equipment clashes can be detected visually.

A time location diagram shows all visible activities along the construction site on a single diagram.

example of linear-scheduling-method diagram

Other Linear Project Management Methodologies.

Some of the more traditional scheduling methods that have predated the linear planning method include:

The Bar or Gantt Chart:

Developed by Henry Gantt during World War One, the bar or Gantt chart can be quickly drawn by hand or developed in most common computer programs, such as Excel, PowerPoint etc.

The bar or gantt chart does creates a visual project plan, but doesn’t contain or communicate all the information and variables needed to optimize for continuous resource usage along a ROW.

Click here to compare the Linear Scheduling Method (LSM)  with Gantt schedules


Critical Path Method (CPM Schedule):

The CPM Schedule, or Critical Path Method was developed in 1957 specifically for projects that are broken down into a complex series of chronologically discrete activities that are logically connected in a sequence from project start to finish.

While the Critical Path Method or CPM is a powerful method, it is not ideal for linear project planning and scheduling, as it does not have the ability to communicate the specifics of what work is done where.

Click here to compare Critical Path vs the Linear Scheduling Methods 


Line Of Balance Method:

The Line of Balance Method differs from the Linear Scheduling Method in one critical way.

The Line of Balance method, as well as the Vertical Production Method are both considered “point based” where the Linear Scheduling Method is “alignment based” as it relates to the ROW.

In fact, the Line of Balance Method was developed by the U.S. Navy in the 1950’s specifically to optimize the production of units in an assembly plant and has been adapted to schedule multi-unit housing projects.

Click here to compare Line of Balance vs the Linear Scheduling Methods 


The Evolution of the linear scheduling method

The beginnings of the linear scheduling method have been traced back as far as the 1800’s, used by characters as famous as Napoleon.

(According to the book entitled, The Command And Control Of The Grand Armée: Napoleon As Organizational Designer by Lieut. Norman L. Durham, Napoleon was strategizing based on Time & Distance calculations.)

In Napoleon’s case, his time distance plans would have been hand drawn. With the advent of the computing age, linear project planners have used a multitude of methods that have become more and more effective at addressing the specific challenges associated with linear projects.

What are the advantages of the linear scheduling method?

By optimizing for the of continuous use of resources, the project plan and schedule can be rendered more effective – doing more work in less time. And where productivity is optimized, work schedules are reduced and profits are maximized.

Click to learn more about the Advantages of The Linear Scheduling Method

Automating the Linear Scheduling Method

Trimble TILOS is the Globe’s leading linear scheduling software.

Preferred by international leaders in infrastructure planning and construction, Trimble TILOS provides reliable & complete linear project schedules. By automating complex calculations required to optimize the linear project plan, TILOS quickly pays for itself.

Learn more about Trimble TILOS Linear Scheduling Software 

“TILOS is making our lives easier. It helps us to sort out any issues of logic before they become a problem. It also allows us to communicate clearly to all teams involved exactly what we are aiming to do and is a good tool to demonstrate to all stakeholders what we are going to deliver.”

Awesome piece of software, with many applications on the job.

Our company is one of North America’s largest pipeline owner companies. Having researched the marketplace for a linear project planning tool, we chose TILOS.  When we have used TILOS on major pipeline projects during construction, it has provided rich construction decision support information.

This information is used to: optimize the construction program with resultant direct dollar savings.

For me, TILOS is the ultimate tool to overlook and plan all schedules along a distance. Much better than a bar chart.

I have found TILOS to be simple and it is now central to my preparation of tender or cost estimates. Importantly, it allows me to immediately update data when changes occur and provide real-time monitoring of progress.

TILOS transformed our engineer’s attitude to project scheduling from something extra they never had time for to a tool they “owned” and wouldn’t go to a meeting without.

I have seen similar software programs earlier, but TILOS is the most flexible and informative I’ve seen up to now.

Some of the brands that trust TILOS

You May Also Be Interested In:

The Advantages Of The Linear Scheduling Method

Compare The Linear Scheduling Method with Gantt Charts, CPM Schedules and More

Compare: TILOS Linear Software VS. Other Linear Planning Software.

Learn More About The Globe’s Premier Linear Scheduling Software