Digital construction expert appointed to drive forward game-changing software

26th Nov

Operance’s smart building software platform will make buildings safer, healthier and more efficient by creating a digital “golden thread” audit trail of information relating to facilities’ entire history, enabling increased ownership and accountability.
The pioneering software will define, coordinate and audit building operations and maintenance (O&M) information via the Operance “Coordinate” web application during the design development and construction stage.
It will then provide end users with crucial detail in real time via the Operance “Operate” mobile app post-handover, ensuring risks and facilities management operations are managed through the full lifecycle of buildings.
Operance is set to be launched to the market early next year, with its development and commercialisation supported by securing £250,000 from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, managed by Mercia Asset Management.
Now, Hull-based Operance has appointed Tom Oulton (main picture), one of the country’s leading building information modelling (BIM) professionals, as digital transformation lead.
Mr Oulton is chairman of both the UK Constructing Excellence Digital and Constructing Excellence Yorkshire and Humber best practice organisations. He also sits on the steering group of thinkBIM, an award-winning network of specialists set up by Leeds Beckett University.
He left his position of five years as principal consultant at global real estate and infrastructure consultancy Turner & Townsend to take on the challenge because he believes Operance has the potential to transform the sector.
“To me, this genuinely is a game-changer,” he said. “There isn’t anything out there that does what Operance does, in the way it does it.
“There are software packages that address some aspects of digital estate management, but nothing that brings it all together on one platform that is easily accessible on the user’s phone.
“Operance will take information from cradle to grave and bring together whole life data management for the built environment.
“Crucially, it will benefit those that need it most, including housing associations, schools and hospitals. That’s why I believe this is the perfect move for me.”
Following the Grenfell Tower disaster, the Hackitt Report was published in May 2018 with 50 recommendations on how to improve the design, build and operation of buildings and facilities to make them safer and more efficient, including creating a digital lifecycle record. A public inquiry into the tragedy is ongoing.
“You can’t let a tragedy as terrible as Grenfell happen without it bringing about fundamental change,” Mr Oulton said. “You’ve got to break down the system and rebuild it.
“Operance is at the very core of this – by defining, curating and managing all the relevant information in the entire lifecycle of a building. Through this software, the concept of the golden thread can now become a reality.”
Based at Hull’s Centre for Digital Innovation (C4DI) tech hub, Operance delivers strategic digital transformation and BIM coordination services as well as developing innovative technology products to enable high-quality digital building information for property owners, developers, contractors and end users.
Seen as the future of construction, BIM digitally builds projects before they are physically built to address issues normally identified on site during or after completion, thereby saving time and money, improving quality and reducing potential safety risks.
The modelling also enables clients to request, store and access important information to operate and maintain facilities efficiently over the long term.
Scott Pilgrim, Operance chief product officer, said: “Tom is renowned for fostering relationships and a supportive culture with customers and industry bodies.
“His industry knowledge, vision, leadership and commitment to the successful implementation of digital estate initiatives make him stand out among the construction community. His appointment will be of great benefit to clients aiming to extract greater value from their estates.”
Mr Oulton is the latest addition to the growing Operance team. As digital transformation lead, he will guide clients through the process of creating an easy-to-manage virtual estate to improve the safety and efficiency of their buildings.
Experienced tech business leader and consultant Nigel Hedley was recently appointed as chairman, while developer Paul Mennell has been recruited to the technology team. They have joined existing colleagues Mr Pilgrim, chief technology officer Tim Mutlow and chief executive Ian Yeo.
Mr Yeo said: “We want to grow our team with the best of the best and our recent investment has given us the runway and opportunity to do this.
“It’s important that everyone we employ has a subset of unique skills and new people are able to enhance and challenge our approach. Our recent appointments tick all those boxes.”
Above, from left: Tim Mutlow, Tom Oulton, Ian Yeo, Paul Mennell and Scott Pilgrim, pictured in Hull’s Fruit Market quarter, where they are based at the C4DI tech hub.

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