On the surface, the idea that the information relating to a building could have the same bearing on fire safety as the actual physical properties of that building might sound far-fetched. But scratch beneath the surface, and it quickly becomes apparent that information management matters. It matters a lot.
In the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, the Hackitt review cited a number of critical failings that combined to bring about such tragic loss of life. ‘Ignorance’, ‘ambiguity surrounding responsibilities’, ‘misinterpretations of guidance’ and ‘inadequate regulatory oversight’ were just some of the key issues that were flagged in the damning report – all issues which have at least some basis in the way that information was (or was not) processed and recorded at Grenfell.
Unsurprisingly then, one of the key recommendations of the Hackitt Report, and arguably the cornerstone of the resulting Building Safety Bill, is the Golden Thread Initiative. Stitching together the complex tapestry of asset safety with robust controls over how information is captured, reviewed and applied, the Golden Thread can be likened to a car’s logbook. It should outline a building’s entire history, including its as-built design, full details of all the products that have been used, records of key decisions that have been made and digital fingerprints of the people who have contributed to the asset’s completion.
So how exactly does the way we process asset information result in a safer built environment?
Firstly, proper information management brings about proper process management in design, construction and operation. And with proper process management comes safer buildings. For example, a cloud-based CDE can help to ensure accurate version control of project drawings; digital Quality Assurance software can provide records and controls over installation; while Digital O&Ms can ensure that a finished asset is properly and safely managed throughout occupation.
“There needs to be a golden thread for all high-risk building projects so that the original design intent is preserved and recorded, and […] any changes go through a formal review process involving people who are competent and who understand the key features of the design.”
Dame Judith Hackitt
In some respects, you can argue that the ‘digital twin’ – the data version of a physical structure – is equally as important as the actual building itself. Without it, true, reliable and demonstrable build quality simply isn’t attainable.
Tom Boland, our very own Head of Digitisation and a bona fide expert on construction handovers, believes that few things are more essential to building safety than asset lifecycle information. Not least because accurate digital records can help to highlight project substitutions and mitigate against value engineering, whereby cheaper but inferior products may be swapped for those initially specified. He says, “it’s very easy to take a good product that performs well and to apply it in such a way that it’s registered useless or even dangerous.” He adds that such errors are something he has observed “repeatedly” throughout his career.
Even if we are to assume that a building has been built properly – to the right spec, without any substitutions and with all the necessary Quality Control measures observed – if proper information management is lacking, the building will still be rendered unsafe. This is because information management is essential to ensure adequate ongoing maintenance and risk management, as well as emergency procedures that will protect residents and emergency responders in the event of a fire.
“There needs to be a detailed project inspection regime which provides a digital record of what’s been installed, when, how and by whom,” says Tom. “Are the right products being used? Has the right person signed off the work? Are they qualified to do so? Are the correct criteria being checked?”
With Zutec’s Asset Lifecycle Information Management software, you can make sure that you have all of this information available, any time, anywhere, at the click of a button. This provides peace of mind and compliance for you, and safety and security for the people who occupy your building.
Take control of your asset data throughout the entire construction lifecycle and help deliver better, safer assets. Talk to Zutec about booking a free demo today.