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ProDigial research programme aims for more efficient infrastructure work sites and cost-effective maintenance

Published on 9.11.2020
Tampere University
Infratyömaa Tampereella.
Road and street construction sites and the infrastructure sector more widely often encounter problems with productivity. Information is lost, much double work is done, project ownerships are ambiguous, procurement practices vary, production processes are deficient, and attitudes inflexible. However, the infrastructure repair debt should be reduced. The aim of the extensive ProDigial research programme, which begins in November, is to meet the current challenges of the infrastructure sector by promoting digitalisation.

“The goal of the research programme is to produce a leap forward in productivity and digitalisation in the infrastructure sector. In addition to improving information management, a key element is changing attitudes and operating culture. Another important goal is to produce new information for decision-makers and to foster dialogues between different parties,” says Industry Professor Kalle Vaismaa from Tampere University’s Research Centre Terra.

The ProDigial programme is divided into four research entities related to knowledge permeating the lifecycle, procurements and cooperation, changing operating culture, and increasing productivity. One of the cross-cutting themes is to increase lifecycle thinking.

“When cooperation is carried out throughout the lifecycle, less mistakes and disputes ensue. The quality of infrastructure also improves when the costs during the lifecycle are considered in the investment phase. Maintenance costs may be saved even if the price tag for design and construction might be higher. What matters are the costs of the entire project from start to finish,” Vaismaa explains.

Change through industry-wide cooperation

One significant aspect of the ProDigial programme is changing operating culture. If the technical solutions do not turn into practice, digitalisation will not take a leap forward. Work processes must be trimmed so that they can promote digitalisation and improve efficiency.

“Leadership plays a big role in changing attitudes and operating culture,” Vaismaa emphasises.

In addition to Tampere University, the ProDigial programme involves the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency and ten cities: Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Turku, Oulu, Lahti, Jyväskylä, Lappeenranta and Kuopio. The research programme will pilot a wide range of projects in various concrete infrastructure projects which are implemented by 20 infrastructure companies.

“Thanks to extensive cooperation in the infrastructure sector, there are now real opportunities for taking a leap forward in digitalisation and productivity. The goal is to gather many infrastructure owners, companies and other infrastructure players around the same table,” Vaismaa says.

The benefits of digitalisation and enhanced cooperation also benefit consumers for whom efficient work processes and fluent information flows are reflected in the form of eg more efficient road construction sites and the better condition of the road network.

“In order to reduce the repair debt in infrastructure, investments must be made in the quality of design and construction, as well as in preventive maintenance,” Vaismaa says

Tampere University coordinates the ProDigial research programme which will run from 2020 to 2023. The total funding for the programme is €1.5 million.

Industry Professor Kalle Vaismaa, Tampereen University’s Research Centre Terra
tel. +358 (0)400 567283, +358 (0)400 567 283, kalle.vaismaa [at] (kalle[dot]vaismaa[at]tuni[dot]fi)