Golden thread that connects us to the world
Golden Threads In Construction
In the construction and architectural field, there is a lot of discussion around the 'golden thread of information'. But what is it?
The golden thread is a term used across many business disciplines. In construction, the golden thread of information is used as a shorthand for an accurate and up-to-date record of building data. Although not standard practice yet, it will detail how a building was designed, built and maintained. The golden thread is a live document, held digitally. The record will capture the digital fingerprints of people, recording their decisions, thus giving a clear accountability trail.
Why does it matter?
Information and record-keeping around buildings and construction projects are fragmented, incomplete and often inaccessible. For most buildings, it is unclear if the finished structure is the same as what was designed, potentially impacting on building safety. This also makes it harder for the owner to efficiently and effectively manage the building and complicates operational maintenance. It is also difficult to see who made which decision and who authorised what. The golden thread will improve accountability as it will record who signed off at every phase.
What prevents the golden thread of information?
Using paper-based methods to record information can be time-consuming and lead to costly errors as well as providing issues that arise from storing physical records. Even slightly more modern technologies like spreadsheets or email that still require hours of manual data entry or retrieval in order to utilise or analyse data appropriately still unravel that golden thread.
Lack of visibility
Some projects are fully paperless and yet they still do not have the golden thread of information. This is often seen when systems that are being used on a project are disparate or closed off from one another.
A major issue on sites is the linear nature of construction. For example, floor layers cannot begin screening until electrics are fitted, and much of the time teams would not see each other unless there are delays in a project. To add to this, should a team encounter a snag or issue that prevents them from carrying out their tasks, the process to call back in the team responsible can be time-consuming and cause further delays.
How modern, connected software can help
While the model is a visual representation of the building, there are other assets linked to it, such as technical specifications construction and asset management information. This is all hosted in what is called the Common Data Environment (CDE): the place which collects, manages and disseminates documents.
When companies use a CDE to take care of recording and storing information, it ensures that everyone can see and amend one single version of the truth. This is perfect for keeping track of instances such as architectural amendments or product substitutions as the project happens. The electronic audit trail ensures that any prior revisions are safely stored and can be accessed at a moment’s notice if required. By taking the burden of storing information away from a person or department and placing it onto a system, this shares the responsibility throughout the project, by easily flagging up any gaps of information and making sure that everyone keeps the golden thread intact.
Using connected software also helps project sites operate safer, by showing site managers live information of site incidents so they can make site adjustments by following what the data is telling them. This means no more filling in several incident forms at the end of the day to find out they all occurred in the same area.
A connected software solution can be implemented by the main contractor for a project’s duration but used by subcontractors working on-site at any one time. Workflows ensure relevant stakeholders on-site can see information relevant to their part of the project and increase their efficiency by being constantly up-to-speed with how the project looks. If a snag or fault is identified, the project management and the team responsible can be notified immediately and begin to resolve the issue. This notification system also helps to ensure teams check their part of the project thoroughly before leaving the site, as it creates transparent accountability and encourages a high level of finish. As well as ensuring that construction projects run as smoothly and as safely as possible, aiming for the golden thread also brings business benefits.