Everyone is talking about PDTs
Firstly, here are a few commonly asked questions about PDTs; What is a Product Data Template (PDT)? It is the construction product’s attributes/properties, that the manufacturer shares with the supply chain. Why is it needed? There is so much information that a manufacturer has about their products, but most of it is not of use to the supply chain, however some of the data is vital in regards to how you build or manage the asset. Also, most contractors and Facilities Managers do not want 3D BIM Objects, what they need is the data about the product‘s properties. What is a Product Data Sheet (PDS)? That is a PDT with the specific product data added to it.
What data should manufacturers share?
To help manufacturers decide what data they should share, organisations like the Chartered Institute of Building Surveyors (CIBSE) and the BIM for Manufacturing and Materials (BIM4M2), have started developing set PDTs for different product types. This should be a very useful resource to help manufacturers share data (i.e. the PDS). However, each project and project partner has different data requirements depending on the type of project and how they may wish to manage the asset. For this reason, in order to be BIM Level 2 compliant a client must develop Employers Information Requirements (EIR) that sets out what information/data they require in order to answer their plain language questions which may be based on cost, time, quality etc. But maybe the most important data requirement should be set out in the Asset Information Requirements (AIR). This will contain information on the data that is required from the supply chain for the asset/facilities manager to effectively manage their building or infrastructure. Therefore, data requirements will change in each EIR and AIR for each project.
So can a set PDT provide all the data that is required for a project and its supply chains?
No. The reason for this is manufacturers do not want to develop and share PDTs with hundreds of properties and the supply chain do not want to go through the hundred or so properties to find the ones that are relevant to them. The other problem is semantics, if I call a product or property one way and you call it something different (but we are in effect talking about the same thing) then we won’t understand each other. This is where all the PDTs I have seen fall down, (especially as most manufacturers sell their products all over the world). In order for them to be useful they must have the product names available in multiple classifications (not just Uniclass), and the product properties available in IFC, COBie, Revit, ArchiCAD etc, and be available in English, Spanish French etc. Just simply naming something in a way that you understand is of no help what so ever if your construction partners call it something else that you don’t understand. So what is the answer? This is where the buildingSMART Data Dictionary comes in, as it is in effect a semantic mapping tool where concepts can be defined and mapped.
PDTs are a global issue
So that resolves the semantic problem, but what about the type and amount of properties in a PDT? As stated earlier these will change for every project, so we must make flexible PDTs so clients i.e. Contractors, Facilities Managers etc. receive only the data they need and in the format, language etc. they need.
PDTs are not only being discussed in the UK it is a global issue, and with so many different set PDTs being developed by so many different organisations in the UK alone confusion is rife. UK plc needs to work with other countries as there are initiatives in France, Germany and others and with buildingSMART International on developing international solutions.
It is a brave new world
If manufacturers make their data available, we can stop relying on PDFs as the only means of sharing information, as we will be able to find the data we want in the formats we want and will be able to export it to COBie or include it within the models to deliver ‘as built’ accurate information.
This is my mission at coBuilder and I have some solutions to these issues but that will wait until my next blog in the new year. We would love you all to join us to digitise the construction industry.
This Blog was by Nick Tune CEO coBuilder UK and buildingSMART UK/International member