Infrastructure provides essential services to sustain national/local economies, playing a vital role in supporting the development of the society. Infrastructure asset management is challenged by a tough financial climate where owners and operators are required to maintain an improved level of service with an ever shrinking budget. The infrastructure sector (transportation, utilities, energy, environmental) is heavily regulated and accountability for capital and operational expenditure and total lifecycle cost (TOTEX) is more important than ever. The effective management of infrastructure assets requires an understanding of asset deterioration and its effect on cost, risks and performance. Understanding of value in infrastructure is also challenging as it is associated with a network of assets instead of one individual asset, with the different assets having a varying criticality levels within the network. Each infrastructure asset involves several stakeholders including asset owners (e.g., UK Government/Public), asset operators (e.g., Highways England), asset managers (e.g., contractors), and asset users (e.g. general public), each with different requirements and expectations. Within the same stakeholder group, the responsibilities for asset management are also distributed among different departments (e.g. for a bridge, responsibility for maintenance of the bridge structure, pavement, and signals and lightings) forming siloes competing for budget shares and making cross-asset prioritisation a challenging prospect. An effective management of infrastructure asset requires a holistic, thorough understanding of these challenges and characteristics.
Digitalisation within the infrastructure sector is increasing as evidenced by the emergence of systems (e.g. Building Information Modelling, Geographic Information Systems; 3D laser scanning, embedded sensors, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), standards for interoperability (e.g. IFC4, LandXML, CityGML, IndoorGML, InfraGML, KML, etc.), high performance computing, novel data sensing, storage, analysis, and visualisation methods. These advances, often grouped under the terms Construction 4.0, are not influencing the design of infrastructure assets only, but they are also changing construction/production and operation, and inspiring new business models.
This will explore how these advances are changing information management practices and corresponding services, with particular emphasis on asset management. The research will culminate with the development of a framework and tools for servitisation of infrastructure asset management using digital enablers of Construction 4.0.
The PhD candidate will be based in BIM Academy, an award winning and internationally acclaimed digital construction advisory company, and will study under the joint supervision of well-established academics from Northumbria University Newcastle. The PhD candidate will benefit from significant engagement with real life projects and input from the industry.
Although the advances above affect the whole lifecycle of infrastructure assets, much of available studies are focussed on either the design and construction phases of infrastructure assets with limited attention to the in-use (operation and maintenance) phase. Clear frameworks describing or prescribing how the emerging digital systems and standards enable improved infrastructure asset management are still lacking.
This research aims to develop a framework and tools that enable the servitisation of Infrastructure Asset Management by exploiting these digital enablers. The framework will consider the challenges and characteristics discussed earlier. The framework will be developed and structured in such a way that it enables a deep dive into specific use cases (e.g. predictive asset management; compliance with industry regulations for identification and inventory of critical assets, risk based approach to asset management, value-based infrastructure asset management) for specific asset classes (e.g. highway, bridge, rail) that are subsequently addressed through the development of the corresponding tools. A fundamental component for the delivery of the proposed framework and tools is ‘data’ and their methods of collection/generation, integration, and use in decision processes.
This project will be supervised by Dr. Mohamad Kassem
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see
Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or do not include the advert reference ERDF19/EE/MCE/KASSEM will not be considered.
Applications Deadline: 8 July 2019
Interviews: 9 - 24 July 2019
Start Date: 1 October 2019
Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers
The studentship is available to Home and EU students where a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2019/20, this is £15,009 pa) and full Home/ EU Fees.
Kassem, M., Kelly, G., Serginson, M., Lockley, S. and Dawood, N. (2015). BIM in facilities management applications: a case study of a large university complex, Built Environment Project and Asset Management, Vol. 5 (3), 2015, pp. 261-277.
Patacas J, Dawood N, Greenwood D, Kassem M (2016). Supporting building owners and facility managers in the validation and visualisation of asset information models (AIM) through open standards and open technologies, Journal of Information Technology in Construction, Vol. 21, Special issue on Compliance Checking, pg. 434-455, http://www.itcon.org/2016/27.
Kassem, M., Dawood, N., and Chavada, R. (2015). Construction workspace management within an Industry Foundation Class-Compliant 4D tool, Automation in Construction, Vol. 52, April 2015, pp. 42-58, doi:10.1016/j.autcon.2015.02.008.
Kassem, M., Iqbal, N., Kelly, G., Lockley, S. and Dawood, N. (2014). Building information modelling: protocols for collaborative design processes, Journal of Information Technology in Construction (ITcon), Vol. 19, pp. 126-149, http://www.itcon.org/2014/7.
Hu, Z.Z., Zhang, X.Y., Wang, H., W., and Kassem, M. (2016). Improving interoperability between architectural and structural design models: An industry foundation classes-based approach and Web-based tools, Automation in Construction, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.autcon.2016.02.001.