Following much turmoil and ongoing discussions, the construction industry has recognised using Product Data Templates (PDTs) as the way of the future for manufacturers to make their products available in digital formats compatible with BIM.
Perfectly suited to guide manufacturers through the process of “BIM-ification”, is the data specialist, coBuilder UK, which has recently partnered with major contractor Skanska (expect more on that topic soon) in order to support manufacturers in undertaking their digital transformation. In this interview with Nick Tune, CEO of coBuilder UK, Nick explains what are the main issues connected to PDTs that manufacturers need to consider.
According to Nick, as PDTs are all about structuring data, we also need to look at how we can structure the main issues concerning manufacturers. Starting with the issue of manufacturers’ product information that has an essential value for the BIM process. Nick explains the issues of interoperability, internationalisation, interaction and integration – the five “I”s of PDT as he calls them.
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a process and in the middle of this process stands the word ‘information’.
Manufacturers’ information in the form of digital data is essential for streamlining the construction process, which is the main purpose of BIM, in effect. Let us look at manufacturer’s data through the stages of construction, for instance, providing digital data to the initial design stages ensures that buildings are designed with clients’ requirements in mind. Having manufacturer’s data at hand has undeniable value at the procurement stage where contractors and their subs can easily purchase products according to their technical specifications.
At the construction and operation stages, manufacturer’s data along with documents such as warranties, assembly instructions and Declarations of Performance etc., becomes part of the as built information model that is much like the DNA of a building – it ensures we always know what the building is made of and which product belongs where.
BIM is about all those stages being woven together through the collaboration of all actors and that cannot happen if the information about construction products is not made available to all. It is high time we start thinking practically about BIM, because it is not just a pretty word to put on your website and not a change that happens overnight.
Manufacturers really need to step-up and become a partner in BIM, as the benefits of their effort will be seen throughout the whole supply chain.
Interoperability is another important issue that manufacturers should consider. What is the use of data that is hosted in PDFs that no one can search in or a database that uses internal codes? Moreover, because you name something in a way you understand, it does not mean your clients will! Interoperability means that structured data needs to be shareable in multiple formats, multiple languages and along different software tools (eg. Revit, IFC, ARCHICAD, Bentley etc.), that have their own naming systems and are widely used by the construction industry. Interoperability also means that data has to be interlinked or mapped regardless of those differences so that the relationships between products and their properties are always a constant. By using platforms such as goBIM you can make your data available in many different languages/types so that your data is truly interoperable.
Most manufacturers sell their products internationally, not just within the UK. Internationalisation of construction products means that the information about them also needs to be available in the different languages required by each specific market.
While this seems obvious, there is a problem to be flagged here. Many technical terms vary across languages and there has to be a way to verify what means what in the construction industry. In order to solve this problem, goBIM uses the buildingSMART Data Dictionary, which is an international standard (based on ISO 12006-3) for connecting the meanings of a construction term to its accurate translation. We recognise it as the only mistake-proof tool for achieving interoperability across different languages in the international sense of it.
As BIM is a collaborative process, manufacturers are more and more required to interact with the product data that they have. They need to share different amounts of it with different actors and they need to keep it up-to-date. They need to attach documents and relevant images to their data and to do that in a single digital environment. Having that in mind, goBIM allows them to filter the information they have according to the different data requirements of their clients through a user-friendly interface.
Moreover, it allows them to attach documents to their products and to enrich them with pictures for marketing purposes. It can be said that when it comes to the interaction with data, BIM for manufacturers can also mean Better Information Management.
In order to drive sales, manufacturers need to think of the distribution channels they use. Technology makes it possible to create meaningful relationships between software that can prove to be of great value to the end user. That is why it is very useful to have your products integrated in the software your clients use. goBIM is fully integrated with ProductXchange – the tool for contractors. Major contractors such as Skanska are using ProductXchange to collect accurate as built data and attribute it to as built information models. By availing their products in platforms such as goBIM manufacturers are one step closer to having their product purchased. Not to mention the benefits of being a fully BIM-ified partner.
BIM Level 2 by April 2016 – Are we ready?
In the UK today everyone is asking the same question – are we ready for the BIM mandate?
Without the participation of manufacturers the answer would definitely be a “no”. It is vital that manufacturers understand that BIM is about in-depth utilisation of technical information and they are the most credible source for that information.
Ensuring that all data can move through the different life-cycle stages is paramount. That is we must get manufacturers on board and show them that they are exceptionally valuable partners in the pursuit of efficient and sustainable construction.
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