Charlie Davies

Strategic Growth Manager , Costain

Supernova Award Category: 

Data to Decisions

The Organization: 

Costain Group plc delivers integrated leading-edge smart infrastructure solutions to meet national needs across the United Kingdom's (UK) transportation, water, energy, and defense markets. The company provides consultancy services, digital technology services, asset optimization, and complex program management to deliver UKs national critical infrastructure requirements. Examples include the construction of the Channel Tunnel (rail tunnel between England and France), High Speed 2 (high speed rail transport critical to UK’s low carbon transport future), and Crossrail (massive upgrade to London’s underground system). Costain Group plc is a leader in industrial digital transformations.

The Problem: 

The UK Department of Transport, which includes metros (London underground), UK railways stations, high-speed rail trains, and major highways, reached out to the Costain Group plc. to improve data usage across its £600B spend portfolio. The spend portfolio data includes transportation infrastructure costs, program plans, production schedules, carbon footprint, and more. The UK Department of Transport effectively used 30% of its siloed data and targeted applying intelligence to another 50% of the total - bringing data visibility to 80% - to run projects more efficiently. The data includes supplier information as suppliers deliver transportation infrastructure projects. Infrastructure project metrics include asset usages such as the constitution of machinery and complex financial tranSAP Analytics Cloudtions such as subcontractor invoicing.

Project objectives included:

• Breaking down data siloes to increase the data visibility from 30% to 80% to make intelligent business decisions

• £180B (or 30% of £600B spend) cost savings in five years due to project efficiencies

• Improved carbon transparency to achieve Net Zero Carbon by 2050

• Improved environmental impact transparency to significantly reduce noise pollution and improve air quality from construction

The Solution: 

Costain, Deloitte (SAP implementor), and SAP co-developed the Intelligent Infrastructure Control Centre (IICC), leveraging the SAP Business Technology Platform, to take comprehensive operational data from UK national infrastructure projects and synthesize the data onto a common digital platform.


Machine use efficiency -- measured by machine idle time -- was reduced by 30% which decreased the carbon footprint, project time costs, etc. SAP HANA Cloud was chosen for its in-memory capability, which allowed real-time data to be *virtualized and analyzed (*versus accessing siloed data warehouses), SAP Analytics Cloud provided dashboards for live views of external data and for program performance KPIs, SAP Data Intelligence Cloud applied machine learning for the Productivity Engine (POC), and SAP Integration Suite for cloud-cloud and cloud-on premise integrations with Azure, Oracle financials, SAP ERP, etc. 

The Results: 

IICC allows intelligent data usage to effectively manage operations and inform processes such as budgeting, measuring carbon footprint, and building accurate investment cases for the UK Department of Transportation £600B spend portfolio. Predictive analytics reduces unknowns and risk to further cut costs and increase project efficiencies such as decarbonising activities and building accurate investment cases.

Business Benefits: Telematics project, as measured by idle machine time, showed a 30% increase in productivity gains, decrease in project plan time and carbon footprint. Targeting £180B cost savings of spend over five years or 30% of £600B current spend. Costain plans to bring IICC capability to other markets such as capital spend program in the education and justice verticals. Accurate carbon accounting to drive major infrastructure providers to Net Zero 2050. IT infrastructure costs are reduced by 66% with data virtualization per the SAP HANA Cloud-based implementation.

Human Empowerment: Full data transparency empowers key decision-makers in the UK Government at the Ministerial level and enables all levels of decision-makers across the program to see the impact of day-to-day project decisions, which informs better project decisions Better decision making with increasing data visibility from 30% to 80%, as data that was siloed is now available through data virtualization, using SAP HANA Cloud’s smart data integration capability


30% Productivity gains from greater data usage for earthworks construction projects

66% IT infrastructure costs saved due to SAP HANA’s data virtualization capability

80% Data utilization – up from 30% to drive better business decisions

The Technology: 

SAP Data Intelligence - to understand the productivity of construction sites across major infrastructure projects. It is retrieving data from the SAP HANA Cloud virtualization layer to run machine learning algorithms to provide greater intelligence to the user.

SAP HANA Cloud and SAP HANA smart data integration - to pull in data from a variety of sources to enable analytics and visualizations from SAP Analytics Cloud 


Disruptive Factor: 

It is the use of Advance technologies such as Data Integration, Machine Learning,  Augmented Analytics, Blockchain, IoT, and Advance Cloud Integration solutions that make this use case unique.

Using smart data integration and virtual tables in SAP HANA to pull in data from a variety of sources to enable analytics and visualisations from SAP Analytics Cloud and SAP Data Intelligence avoiding data persistence in SAP HANA we are pointing to 3rd party systems using SAP HANA virtual tables – this ensures platform can be used without the IICC having ownership of any client data. Data is surfaced through a single view in a consistent manner regardless of underlying structure. Data level security is achieved by analytical privileges.

Connecting to SAP HANA cloud platform to associate external data models SAP Analytics Cloud surfaces dashboards to give live views of telemetry, weather (provider – London air); air quality (UK DEFRA); Programme & commercial metrics (agreed construction performance KPIs). LIVE - Each SAP Analytics Cloud dashboard is accessed via tiles from the SAP Integration Suite. LIVE - Using SAP Analytics Cloud created teams to control access & user restrictions vs SAP Analytics Cloud dashboards. Using external library three.js accessed via SAP Integration Suite we delivered POC showing 3D mapping of the construction site.


Shining Moment: 

About Costain

This use case with Costain and SAP is a winner of SAP Innovation Award.


Costain, Deloitte, and SAP co-developed the Intelligent Infrastructure Control Centre (IICC), leveraging the SAP Business Technology Platform, to take comprehensive operational data from UK national infrastructure projects and synthesize the data onto a common digital platform.