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Managing data in the built environment


The construction of large-scale buildings and infrastructure projects generates a minefield of data - from engineering information to build specifications and schedules. Storing this data digitally is the first hurdle, however managing the full lifecycle of data across complex engineering and construction assets provides an even greater challenge for the built environment.

A team of researchers at Teesside University’s Centre for Sustainable Engineering, led by Professor Nashwan Dawood, have developed novel digital technologies and processes for the management of information flows throughout the design and construction phases of these projects.

The Research

The research highlighted critical gaps in information management in engineering contexts, such as the lack of a simple, flexible and scalable ‘class library’ - a platform for defining and managing project-specific engineering information. It found that the majority of engineering companies used file-based data management approaches, leading to synchronisation issues which cost time and resources, and trigger errors.

In response to this, Dawood’s team developed a unique cloud-based software platform, enabling users to manage engineering information from any device with cloud capability. It also provides a synchronised data library allowing multiple users to view the same documents at any one time. The database developed for the back end of the platform was a significant technical feat, out-performing existing technologies, especially where engineering data volumes are high.

The research team also explored information management challenges facing the late life and decommissioning stages of oil and gas facilities. This culminated in the development of a prototype web-based Common Data Environment – a central repository housing data from oil and gas clients, as well as publicly available data - which has enabled more informed decision making for the decommissioning of assets within the industry.

The Impact

Supported by two knowledge transfer partnerships funded by Innovate UK, this research has significantly enhanced the business portfolios and market potential of two smart energy companies, Datum360 and Unasys.

Datum360 has used the cloud-based software class library platform to great effect, developing a comprehensive information system for large-scale engineering and infrastructure projects. This has contributed to a growth in its annual turnover of 23% from 2018 to 2019 and the rapid expansion of its global clientbase which now contributes more than 35% of Datum360’s revenue.

Unasys collaborated with the research team on the development of a 3D environment visualisation tool which manages large data sets of offshore oil, gas and renewable assets and facilities in the North Sea. The research has helped Unasys expand their client base and business portfolio and led to them securing funding from the Oil & Gas Technology Centre in Aberdeen for a project worth £650,000.

“The CLS360 system is now a core component of the Datum360 Connected Data platform and has enabled us to target a broader range of project opportunities including a developing focus on BIM and Digital Twins as we move forward.”

CEO of Datum360

Centre for Sustainable Engineering

The Centre for Sustainable Engineering focuses on the design, development, and enhancement of engineering systems, processes, and products that are efficient and sustainable without compromising the natural environment.

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