Data is generally considered high quality if it is fit for its ”intended uses in operations, decision making and planning”1. In the context of construction products, the availability of structured data of the highest quality is crucial for the information needs of the AECO sector. That is why, at coBuilder we have devised four basic criteria, namely: correctness, meaningfulness, interoperability and consistency that ensure structured data’s fitness-for-use.
Structured data provides a high degree of organisation that is crucial for the needs of the data-rich construction industry. It ensures that the created databases are relational, seamless and readily searchable by simple, straightforward search engine algorithms.
Given that the structured construction products data is a vital part in the process of providing quality data for the construction industry, we should be looking at the following criteria to ensure quality:
Firstly, in order to achieve high quality of construction products data we have to be able to trace the source of the information. Clearly, manufacturers are best placed to develop structured data as they are the most credible source of information about their products. They are the ones who have the explicit right to change, update and replace the information and they carry the legal responsibility for the correctness of their data.
An important aspect of structured data is its meaningfulness or in other words, how it is used and interpreted by its intended users. Often manufacturers do not know the right way to organise their data so that it becomes meaningful to the other players in sector. This is why the industry has agreed that utilisation of Product Data Templates (PDTs) is the best practice in providing structure to manufacturers’ data in a meaningful way. Using PDTs with the actual manufacturer’s data attributed to them, is the best way for manufacturers to ensure that their data meets the ‘meaningfulness’ criteria for quality.
Data quality is needed throughout the complete project lifecycle, assisting in Procurement, Assembly, Just-in-Time delivery as well as the Operational stages to measure and obtain valuable metrics on performance and maintenance aspects. Therefore, structured data needs to be easily used and accessed by all interested parties. Common data formats such as IFC, COBie, REVIT, ArchCAD etc. solve the issue of interoperability of the structured data as they enable the seamless flow of information in all kinds of software used by the different construction actors.
The different national language, classification systems and variations in technical language pose a consistency problem when it comes to structured data. The buildingSMART Data Dictionary solves these issues through its capability to map different concepts to their meaning in a way that each specific instance – be it a product definition or a property – is always consistently connected to its meaning, so there is nothing lost in translation, classification etc.
Quality structured data in use – operations, decision making and as built
In the UK, construction products data that is part of the BIM process is driven by the client demand via the use of an AIR/EIR. That is why, firstly, we have to underline that quality data is most importantly used at the Operation stage to assist with such things as maintenance scheduling, increasing efficiencies when replacing and upgrading product parts and measuring performance over a time period of actual versus proposed requirements. At the earlier stages of construction quality data is used to assist in decision making. Developing the models with structured data generates value driven data results that can be adapted and derived to provide the best possible outcome. Later at the Construction phase structured data is used to ensure the values defining the performance of the products installed in a building meet the design and technical design criteria – it is key in developing the as built model of a building. Structured data is essential in all the stages of a built asset’s life cycle and it is essential that its high quality is consistently validated.
Developing Structured Data
Enabling the industry to utilise construction products data of the highest quality, coBuilder’s software solutions have come to the forefront of BIM implementation in the AECO sector. Through the goBIM tool for manufacturers coBuilder has taken PDTs one step further. Providing clear structure to the data, goBIM is a meaningful solution for project members suitable for any specific requirements on a case by case basis. Via our Application Program Interface (API) we have given manufacturers control over the correctness of their data by allowing them to enter it themselves or by connecting to their project management (ERP) systems such as SAP, so that any data changes are continuously updated in goBIM automatically.
By utilising the buildingSMART Data Dictionary we have made manufacturers’ data consistent and interoperable in multiple formats and languages at the touch of a button. We have also developed ProductXchange so that contractors can collect and check the as built data and output it as COBie (a BIM Level 2 requirement) and IFC, Revit, Navisworks or ARCHICAD models. Thus, coBuilder’s solutions contribute to the creation of a common data environment which will allow all the actors in the industry to exchange the very sought after interoperable data of great quality and even greater importance for the modern construction sector.
1. Juran, Joseph M. and A. Blanton Godfrey, Juran’s Quality Handbook, Fifth Edition, p. 2.2, McGraw-Hill, 1999.
Director of Manufacturers and Merchants
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