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What is Digital Engineering?

Digital Engineering (DE) provides an entirely new approach to managing project information, by addressing many of the challenges that were historically impacting the construction sector.

We define Digital Engineering as:

a collaborative way of working, using digital processes, to enable more productive methods of planning, design, constructing, operating and maintaining assets”.



On face value this may sound similar to contemporary definitions of Building Information Modelling (BIM), however there are some key differences as explained further below.

This page provides an overview of DE, and how the industry acclaimed 'Transport for NSW (TfNSW) DE Framework' evolved from early concepts through to broad project implementation.

If you'd like to learn more on DE or how to kick-off a DE Framework in your organisation, please get in touch.


Thinking beyond BIM

Over the past decade BIM has emerged as a significant catalyst for industry change; providing new techniques for developing data-rich 3D models, along with new technologies and processes for managing design and construction information.


Despite the many technological improvements gained from BIM, it is still relatively disconnected from traditional project teams and existing business functions. It could be said that BIM has fallen short from initial expectations and has proven not to be the universal ‘silver bullet’ that many had hoped.


To enable more holistic integration of project information, it was recognised that BIM was just one out of many project deliverables to be connected digitally.

For more on how the TfNSW NSW DE Framework began, please check out our first blog article on ‘Vaux Pop’.

The ‘Science of Digital Engineering’

The ‘Science of DE’ brings together a significant amount of global research and distils best practice from leading digital initiatives.


A common theme identified through this research is the critical importance of structured data, based on principles such as open data formats, standardised asset classification, consistent data specification and master data management.


By restructuring all project functions with structured data, project teams can optimise the production, exchange and re-use of all project deliverables. All project information can be unified to capture complete historical record of assets, projects, and overall infrastructure networks.

This effectively creates a 'digital ecosystem', that enables all asset information to be managed digitally over the asset lifecycle. In industry this is now commonly known as the ‘golden thread' of information.

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© Transport for NSW

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Building the DE Framework

The concepts of DE initially began with the coordination of CAD and BIM, however this quickly extended to include many other project functions such as scheduling, cost estimation, risk management, systems engineering and many others.

From 2018 onwards, TfNSW engaged a team of industry experts with a diverse range of technical  backgrounds including engineering, asset management, architecture, enterprise architecture and change management.

This team was responsible for developing the DE Framework incrementally through a series of formal releases. With each new release, both the scale and complexity of the framework was increased, as a growing catalogue of project deliverables were standardised and incorporated based on digital processes and structured data.

For more details, please refer to the TfNSW DE Framework.

Benefits of Digital Engineering

The TfNSW DE Framework enhances how teams plan, design and deliver projects, by establishing a more unified, reliable and reusable approach to DE.


It improves project collaboration through more digital ways of working; thereby producing more consistent project outcomes for both TfNSW and its industry partners.

The TfNSW DE Framework has enabled a step-change in digital capability in both government and industry; and is now delivering value on a broad range of major infrastructure projects throughout NSW.

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© Transport for NSW

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© Transport for NSW

Transport for NSW DE Framework

The TfNSW DE Framework is a highly acclaimed program of work, that has been universally recognised to be “ground-breaking", "world leading" and a “beacon for the Australian industry".


This pioneering initiative was the first of its kind, setting a new benchmark for how governments engage with industry and lead comprehensive programs of digital transformation.

Over an eight-year period from 2014-2021, Simon Vaux led all aspects of the TfNSW DE Framework program successfully – from its inception and initial vision, strategic planning and business case approvals, through to policy, resourcing, technical delivery and project implementation.


This comprehensive framework is now live, establishing digital capability across industry and running on numerous major infrastructure projects throughout NSW.

If you'd like to learn more on DE or how to kick-off a DE Framework in your organisation, please get in touch.

TfNSW DE Framework


The TfNSW DE Team published a series of YouTube videos explaining the DE Framework.

These provide an overview of DE and the DE Framework, along with testimonials from pilot projects

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