GREEK mythology gave us the three sister goddesses – the Fates – and their golden threads which assigned destinies to mortals. Then came the famous fairytale of Rumpelstiltskin and the straw spun into gold in exchange for the queen’s first-born child.
Now, the ‘golden thread’ concept, embedded in literature across the ages, has taken centre stage in a new realm – the built environment.
In this realm the term has become shorthand for the line of accurate and up-to-date data which runs from a building’s design through to its construction and operation.
The thread tells the asset’s whole ‘story’. Who designed this asset? What contractors delivered it? What components and materials were used? What changes have been introduced over the course of its life?
The need for embedding digital techniques and methods in how we manage and maintain our critical infrastructure is not new. As a route to increase the productivity and quality of infrastructure programmes, reduce costs, and support more safe and sustainable buildings, digital delivery and Building Information Management (BIM) has been long promoted by its backers.
But it is a UK report which has breathed new life into the concept. The report was commissioned by the Government following the Grenfell high-rise building fire in London in which 72 people lost their lives. As the inquiry began into how and why the tragedy happened it became evident that the information about the building needed to answer those questions was sorely lacking.
The report, from Dame Judith Hackitt, noted major concerns around the lack of accurate information relating to buildings over their lifecycle.
“Where building information is present,” it wrote, “it is often incomplete or held in paper form and is not accessible to the people who need to see it.”
Calling for the industry to…”tak(e) the digital techniques pioneered in other industries such as aerospace and automotive and apply them to construction,“ it recommended the introduction of a ‘golden thread’ as a critical tool to ensure comprehensive information to safely and effectively design, construct and operate their buildings.
The government committed to implementing Dame Judith Hackitt’s golden thread recommendations, as an integral component of a wider building safety programme. The next compliance deadline for those impacted owners and developers (predominantly in England and Wales) is April 6 – just a few months away. Those impacted are required to obtain a certificate that allows occupancy, with potential criminal penalties for occupation without this.
”A digital, data-driven approach helps to optimise energy use, reduce re-work (no going back to the drawing-board), minimise environmental impact and streamline maintenance and management.
Expert help with developing your golden-thread
Our London team is busy supporting organisations to avoid the dangers and reputational damage of becoming non-compliant after the 6th April deadline.
But the need for the ‘golden thread of information’ is not limited to those impacted by these requirements.
Not just in the UK but around the globe, we have seen the consequences that result from the lack of an auditable digital trail of information about our critical infrastructure.
And today – not only for safety, but for sustainability, productivity and quality – there is a pressing need for the infrastructure sector to adopt a digital approach which priorities the maintenance of an accurate and up-to-date record of key information relating to our assets.
A digital, data-driven approach helps to optimise energy use, reduce re-work (no going back to the drawing-board), minimise environmental impact and streamline maintenance and management.
Unlike others, our team comprises leaders with extensive engineering experience. They have supported and enabled digital delivery, operation and maintenance within some of this generation’s most complex assets and within sectors from transportation (including HS2) to nuclear and energy. They fully understand the alignment needed between people people, processes and technology to unlock the full benefits of a digital approach.
We will ensure you follow a best practice approach in building your golden thread – that you make it secure, accessible, easy to understand for those who need it, and that, critically, the data is quality data which can be trusted to inform decisions.
For those with more advanced digital maturity we can help you understand how technologies like digital twins can enable more effective management of your assets. How can you use your ‘golden thread’ data to support predictive maintenance and management, identify and resolve potential problems before they fully emerge and to optimise asset performance?
Together, we can connect your asset information and weave your story.
For more information please contact our Buildings and Communities Team.