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Mon June 21 2021

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Dundee Uni and Costain join construction efficiency project

23 Jul 20 Costain and the University of Dundee are part of a newly launched £16m programme that will harness historic data with the aim of boosting the efficiency of major infrastructure projects.

Costain is one of the companies involved in the £16m project
Costain is one of the companies involved in the £16m project

Costain is the technology partner responsible for driving the delivery and implementation of digital technology to achieve early benefits. It is leading an integration programme that will bring the data and insights together into a single platform, amalgamating thousands of data sources.

The University of Dundee is to research data from completed rail schemes.

The ‘Transport Infrastructure Efficiency Strategy Living Lab’ (TIES Living Lab) was launched this month by UK government transport minister of Andrew Stephenson. TIES Living Lab is a collaboration aimed at harnessing the vast quantities of information generated by UK infrastructure projects generate in order to drive down delivery times, reduce carbon emissions and improve safety and skills for construction workers. TIES Living Lab comprises 31 strategic partners, including 25 consortium members. As well as Dundee University and Costain, other members include Network Rail Infrastructure, Kier Construction, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Department for Transport, HS2 Ltd, Transport for London and Highways England.

In launching the programme Stephenson said: “As we begin our green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, the need to level-up our country and boost economic prosperity has only increased – and we are determined that we don’t just rebuild, we rebuild smarter. The Living Lab is a great opportunity for industry and academics to work together to embrace new, more productive, more efficient and more sustainable ways of delivering transport infrastructure.”

Over the next two years, the partnership will invest more than £16m in new tools, processes and data systems with the aim of establishing best practice in the way innovations are designed, built and integrated within transport project.

Costain chief digital officer Nathan Marsh said: “Driving digital transformation and innovation at pace across the lifecycle of infrastructure is critical to realising its full value to UK society and its ability to improve people’s lives - not just in terms of job creation and productivity but also in terms of building better resilience for our economy, the environment and communities.

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“Costain is proud to be a strategic technology partner in this industry collaboration that will help accelerate the infrastructure sector towards being ‘digital by default’ - a key to ensuring we maximise innovations that will optimise existing infrastructure, national development programmes, and the UK’s net zero carbon journey.”

Dundee will focus on historic construction projects in the rail sector. The team, led by the University’s civil engineering department, will receive £264,000 to extract data relating to cost, time, productivity, and quality of work. It will then create metrics to benchmark the performance of a number of projects run by Network Rail and Transport for London.

Principal investigator Dr Moray Newlands said: “The TIES Living Lab project comes at a critical time for the UK construction industry. Client demands on cost, time and quality are now more important than ever and, to enable the industry to become more efficient, we need to examine historic data and identify where efficiencies can be made in new projects.

“The University will be interrogating data from similar infrastructure projects and using new projects within the rail industry as a live laboratory to test the data’s usefulness in measuring performance in terms of cost, productivity and quality.

“In addition, other industry partners will also be examining other important factors such as environmental impact and social value. It is hoped that the main outcome from the project will be a data repository that can be used by the UK construction industry to improve the efficiency of future construction projects. As the UK government is the biggest infrastructure client in the country, this efficiency is also hugely important for taxpayers.”

The Dundee team will work alongside Whole Life Consultants - a university spin-out company led by Emeritus Professor Malcolm Horner - and Lean Construct, which was founded by Dundee alumnus Dr Steven Ward. The Office of National Statistics will create a data store so others in the construction industry can use the data and metrics they produce to measure performance of future projects and make the whole process more efficient.

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