The Norwegian construction industry takes another step on its path towards consistent use of digital product data

Over a year ago, The Federation of Norwegian Construction Industries (BNL) and Cobuilder signed an agreement for the industry-wide use of Cobuilder’s Product Data Templates as a starting point for making an industry standard. The use of Product Data Templates enables the establishment of common data structures and definitions for a number of products and their characteristics based on credible sources such as harmonised European standards. Through the use of the BuildingSMART Data Dictionary (bSDD) all standardised content created by Cobuilder is also linked to ‘Global Unique Identifiers’ (GUIDs) from bSDD which give each object type (property, unit, test method etc.) a global unique reference code. This allows for data to be seamlessly transferred across systems and local languages without losing anything in the process of ‘translation’.

In a recent address towards the construction industry the Norwegian chapter of buildingSMART has put a great emphasis on the need for using unambiguous machine-readable code to identify the components that are included in a given building. This is an essential feature for any system that aims to attribute data to an accurate digital twin of a built asset. And it is the only solution that allows individuals to utilise the most accurate and up-to-date data related to any specific product, system or assembly throughout all the stages of construction and across the supply chain.

Going further than interoperability raises the issue of context. Because all countries have their own rules, requirements and standards related to different product categories, it is important to create local contexts that follow the same logic and can be interpreted internationally.
In an interview for Byggeindustrien, BuildingSMART Norway Project Manager Chi Ho Lau said:

Chi Ho Lau, Project Manager at BuildingSMART Norge. Image credits: BuildingSMART

‘Cobuilder have done a great job in creating content based on harmonised product standards. Each of the 256 product data templates they have created holds standard-based characteristics mapped to GUIDs. These product templates form the basis we have built to create a comprehensive Norwegian context.
As a next step from the autumn, together with Standards Norway, we will organize national experts in the various product areas to enrich theses 256 templates with characteristics that are not necessarily included in a standard, but still significant.

For this reason, we now wish to invite more suppliers and manufacturers to our expert groups so that the merchants’ interests are safeguarded. It is imperative that all Product Data Templates are based on the Norwegian context. Only in this way, we will ensure that product’s master data is compatible with the future and can be stored independently of commercial applications and database systems. This will give us a data-driven reality – a reality where it’s easy to replace your systems and tools and take the data seamlessly along.’

In Norway large construction companies such as SKANSKA are increasingly starting to request the use of digital data that is interoperable and defined within a common context. This is why collaboration has become increasingly important for the industry. In order to meet the huge demand for high quality data that is foreseen in the future all construction actors need to join in the conversation today.