Costain, the smart infrastructure solutions company, has joined forces with Microsoft, to digitally optimise the way UK infrastructure is designed, delivered and operated. Together Costain and Microsoft aim to improve the lives of UK citizens by helping owners and operators of infrastructure create and get value from digital assets.
Costain brings the infrastructure engineering knowledge, deep client insight and digital integration expertise. Microsoft brings secure cloud, machine learning and powerful data analytics capability.
Nathan Marsh, Costain’s chief digital officer said: “This strategic partnership will help clients provide better value services to their customers by deploying digital twin approaches that enable safer, better, faster, greener and more efficient infrastructure. The digital versions of project delivery schedules and the physical assets Costain creates with Microsoft are optimised with high quality data insight and foresight that will improve delivery and operational productivity.
“Clients are able to do things such as virtually and remotely test designs, weather scenarios, incident response, carbon reduction schemes, maintenance and upgrade programmes with enhanced speed and accuracy. This helps ensure right first time delivery, improved return on investment and minimises disruption to customers.”
Matthew Higham, chief digital officer at Microsoft UK said: “By working together, we can democratise the power of data and digital skills to help transform not just the built environment and the construction industry, but the other industries they serve. As we move to a more sustainable future, being able to measure and effect intelligent digitally empowered transformation at pace, is pivotal to success – one which this partnership can bring to life”.
Microsoft is already supporting Costain on the Anglian Water Strategic Pipeline Alliance (SPA), alongside other partners Jacobs, Mott MacDonald Bentley and Farrans, to develop an enterprise-ready digital twin for the new strategic pipeline. The series of up to 500km of interconnecting pipelines and associated infrastructure will move water from areas of surplus in Lincolnshire to the drier south and east of the region. The digital twin will optimise delivery and management of the water network throughout the lifecycle of the pipeline delivering benefits to Anglian Water in CAPEX during project delivery and OPEX in the future operation of the pipeline.
Costain is leveraging Microsoft’s cloud-based software, Azure, to integrate systems and business functions for improved enterprise data management, helping to enable artificial intelligence and automate processes that will aid better decision making as well as drive continuous improvement and innovation.
Costain’s knowledge of complex infrastructure delivery and client operations is ensuring the right physical asset and operational data is fed into the digital twin and that the benefits are realised through things such as:
Improved efficiency and reduced cost of delivery as the pipeline can be assembled, installed, tested and commissioned in a virtual environment before the delivery phase begins
Reduced maintenance and renewal costs as issues can be identified before they affect operations, underpinned by proactive planning
Significant reduction in embedded carbon and energy consumption during operations
Clearer insight into operations so events such as drought or flooding can be better planned for
Enhanced engagement as customers can see how their behaviour affects water demand and supply.
The development of a digital twin is part of Anglian Water’s wider digital transformation plans and showcases the potential of this technology to the sector. According to Matt Edwards, head of enterprise data at Anglian Water: “Water networks are incredibly large and complex systems. Digital twins give us the opportunity to connect assets and equipment all the way along those systems, so we understand how much water we’re pumping into the networks, the level of water in storage reservoirs, and how we control the flow through pressures and valves. Having all of the sensors on the assets communicate with each other in an ecosystem of digital twins will ultimately allow us to provide an even better, optimised, 24/7 service to all of our customers.”
Appointed onto the new Strategic Pipeline Alliance in June 2020, Costain is providing a range of integrated services including strategic programme management, digital technology expertise and complex programme delivery for the supply-side strategy of Anglian Water’s Water Resources Management Plan. Costain's expertise in digital technology and complex programme delivery will enable the efficient delivery of Anglian Water's physical assets as well as the digital assets.
Once complete, the contract will see new systems and assets, within a digital framework working together with existing networks to provide Anglian Water greater flexibility in how it manages water supply and growing demand.