Less talking, more action: Exyte Hargreaves and Cobuilder are collaborating on a project aiming to create a digital “Golden Thread” in construction

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Modified on March 10, 2021

In January 2021, Exyte Hargreaves, a leading construction engineering business in the United Kingdom, concluded a strategic agreement with the Norwegian software company, Cobuilder. This partnership aims to put an innovative process for capturing data from the supply chain into practice. The final aim of this process is creating and maintaining a digital record of consistent, well-structured and standardised construction information. Thе project is inspired by Dame Judith Hackitt’s ‘Building a Safer Future’ final report and aims to capture the ‘Golden Thread’ of good quality information.

Pete Foster, Head of Business Analytics at Exyte Hargreaves, comments:

“There have been a lot of discussions and focus groups about ‘The Golden Thread’ of information in the UK. However, very few have anything to show for others to learn from and promote improvement in the industry. It is time to stop the talking and really start doing as it is critical for the market. Exyte Hargreaves and Cobuilder teamed up to take the first important steps towards creating a new process for capturing data. Just within a few weeks of collaboration, we already see the progress of our efforts.”

What is the aim of the project?

The lack of complete and accurate building information causes many challenges. Often, building owners do not have up-to-date information to manage safety during the building’s life cycle. It is rare to get consistent information on whether any changes have been made between the original design and the completed built asset. These information gaps create great implications for the overall building safety strategy.

The experts from Cobuilder and Exyte Hargreaves are determined to address these ‘breaking points’ in the ‘Golden Thread of information’. Both companies believe that the time has come to step up and start doing what it takes to solve these problems at their core.

Cobuilder and Exyte Hargreaves will be working together to create a practical case study for maintaining a digital ‘Golden Thread’ repository. The project aims to deliver a transparent audit trail of the products specified, purchased, manufactured and finally installed on projects.

Antony Brophy, Director of Business Development (Cobuilder UK), said:

“This partnership showcases the implementation of a cutting-edge technology that will generate a digital by default “Golden Thread” of information for the construction industry. The built environment requires a ‘common language’ and interoperable data to exchange information in a consistent way. I am confident that this new approach is the right direction. I look forward to sharing more details going forward.”

Data driven by purpose

At the initial phase of the project, Exyte Hargreaves will launch a process for collecting data from their supply chain and storing it safely and consistently in a digital ‘Data Warehouse’.

To build a digital ‘Data Warehouse’, Exyte Hargreaves will take advantage of Cobuilder’s software solutions. Once manufacturers’ data is collected and stored, it can be pushed into live projects. Cobuilder’s platform can be used as a ‘filter’ for the data contained in the warehouse, meaning that building services designers will be able to select project-specific data or just the data that they need. As a result, Designers, Specifiers, Engineers, Manufacturing, Site and Commercial teams are all connected.

To structure the collected suppliers’ data, Cobuilder applies the Data Template methodology. Data templates are structures based on the latest international and European industry standards. They translate product information into consistent and interoperable data. Through powerful APIs, this data is integrated into multiple software systems, thus enabling a seamless flow of information.

Interoperability is an important focus of the project. Exyte Hargreaves will be adding all their product data to 3D objects in Collaborate using Cobuilder’s IFC integration tool. Then using specialist BIM software, they intend to remove commercially sensitive information and upload the data-rich 3D model to their Common Data Environment.

Learn by doing, progress by sharing

This project will result in improved control over the product data when Exyte Hargreaves operate as main contractor or sub-contractor. In addition, it will make the process of collecting supplier’s data much less time consuming, far more efficient and make the data itself much more accurate and up to date. This will enable Exyte Hargreaves’ data ready to go approach for project-specific content into multiple projects without having to request and generate the data from scratch every time.

It will also ensure that essential product information is captured from a trusted source (manufacturers) and then safely stored as a digital record. This way, important aspects of a building project, such as information related to fire safety, will never be lost during different project stages or over the life-cycle of the building.

Moreover, the launch of this partnership is proof that the ‘Golden thread’ concept is a realistic endeavour. It can be undertaken by businesses of all scale operating in the construction sector.

The success of such a massive project will bring benefits to the construction industry as a whole. It will clear the path for other forward-thinking companies to start keeping a good quality record of valuable construction information. The rewards and efficiencies will be captured and shared as part of an evidence-based case study.

Thus, while many are still ‘talking’ about the ‘Golden Thread’, it is crucial to act now. The market is awake, and it has started to respond – Exyte and Cobuilder are ready to prove that.