New Solution: Cobuilder Collaborate

To overcome issues such as the fragmented communication between supply chain members, the inefficiencies regarding COBie data checking and quality, Cobuilder are launching a new tool specially designed to facilitate client- contractor and contractor-supply chain collaboration when it comes to asset information. The Cobuilder Collaborate suite is the smart software implementation of the Cobuilder tried and tested – Set – Collect – Check – Integrate process. It enables clients to receive validated and verified Asset Information Models based on a collaborative data flow that’s based on the use of a common data structure called Product Data Templates (What is a PDT?). Here is how the process is incorporated in the logic of the software suite:

SET: Client – Contractor Relationship:

PAS 1192-3  states that an Asset Information Requirement document should be produced by the client to describe the information (in the form of data, documents and geometry)  required for the Facility/Asset management teams to operate and maintain an asset. The contractor can then take advantage of these requirements and communicate them further to their suppliers.

In order to provide a common frame of reference for the data collection that is needed at all the construction phases, Cobuilder employs the unique PDT methodology in order to provide structured data sets that use product characteristics defined by relevant standards. Within the Cobuilder Collaborate suite of services, Asset Information Requirements are thus created in the form of interoperable Requirement Templates. These Digital Requirements can be as detailed as defining just the data sets (O&M, performance, BREEAM) required for each product/system type, to defining relevant product characteristics (U-value, burglar resistance etc.) and even valid ranges for the values of product characteristics (U-value <1.2, colour scheme drop-down etc.). The Cobuilder Collaborate suite is used to assign the correct requirements to each supplier in order to ensure that valid requirements is set for the supply chain. Once the Asset Information Requirements are set in this way, they are integrated into the Cobuilder Collaborate suite mechanism. The contractors can then take advantage of the AIR in the form of filters that check the data collected by the contractors themselves or by their supply chain.

COLLECT (Contractor – Supplier relationship0

At the construction site, suppliers are the people responsible for installing the purchased products and making sure these products are supplemented with the correct data and documents required by the contractor. Once the client requirements have been set according to the abovementioned strategy, suppliers can easily attach the data and documents required for each product type they have been assigned by the contractor. Part of the Cobuilder Collaborate suite is the Cobuilder Deliver module intended to be used by suppliers. In Cobuilder Deliver, suppliers fill out Requirement Templates only for the relevant project-specific products and product characteristics that they are delivering to the project. The created Data Sheets are then automatically transferred to Cobuilder Collaborate’s dashboard where they are checked and controlled by the main contractor. This is how contractors can make sure that they have assigned valid requirements to their suppliers. In addition, the data they are collecting is subject to two-fold checking: once by the suppliers in the Cobuilder Deliver interface and once by the contractor’s information stewards in Cobuilder Collaborate.  In the most common case, Cobuilder Collaborate is used for managing a repository of project-specific products.

What is meant by project-specific products?

Originally, construction products data is created by the manufacturers since they are the most credible source of construction product information. However, information that appeared to be of high quality in yesterday’s unstructured formats (PDFs, brochures, isolated systems) turns out to be insufficient when combined with today’s digital & collaborative construction initiatives such as BIM. This is why Cobuilder provide manufacturers with the means to create a cloud-based product repository for their accurate and up-to-date data digitised through Product Data Templates. All data populated in a Product Data Template by a construction actor different than the manufacturer is project-specific. This means that the actor who has sourced the data can only verify its accuracy at a certain point in time. To enable future contractor-manufacturer collaboration, the Cobuilder Collaborate suite has access to a growing repository of manufacturer’s product/systems data available to be utilised by Cobuilder Collaborate suite users (including Cobuilder Deliver users). The logic of the suit is developed as to source construction product data directly for the manufacturer in order to ensure the latest and greates data is used on all projects. However, as this database is expanding, if there is no saved manufacturer data in the Cobuilder cloud, Cobuilder Collaborate users (including Cobuilder Deliver users) have the possibility to fill in the required data in a template themselves.

CHECK: Trust through technology

A major benefit of Cobuilder Collaborate is that it enables the collaboration between construction actors through a user-friendly interface that facilitates data exchange regardless of the level of BIM competence of the users. Cobuilder Collaborate is a system that helps the contractor explicitly consider and describe the supplier’s scope, responsibilities and expectations related to information exchange within the system itself. Does the collected data match the Asset Information Requirements? Does it match the applicable value ranges?  Such logical checks are automatically built in the Cobuilder Collaborate mechanism, making the checking of data quality as simple as it gets. Cobuilder Collaborate makes it easy for the information stewards to be notified if any supply chain members – suppliers, merchants, manufacturers have  provided data that deviates from the set requirements. The system is also designed tohandl documentation requirements and will notify the user if documents such as DoPs are missing (functionality to be released soon). These built-in checking functionality makes sure the collected data at a construction site is of high quality and fits with the client’s and contractor’s requirements.

A step forward: Integrate data into models

Having confirmed the accuracy of the collected information on their digital project, information stewards can now easily integrate the collected data to Asset Information Models via Cobuilder’s free plugins for Revit, Navisworks and IFC. Through Cobuilder Collaborate you can also deliver a COBie export. The main benefit of this export is that the produced data schema will contain only the required and recommended data, which will be needed in various information exchange points through the design, construction and handover of a building or asset. Alternatively, they can use Cobuilder Collaborate‘s built-in ‘Integrate’ functionality to link data to an IFC model. This is how the data related to products/systems characteristics are  added to instance data and the data related to location/geometry in order to complete the information model.  As an additional service, Cobuilder Collaborate users can also use the API Automation to integrate the collected and checked data with internal systems or provide it as a service to their clients.

Collaboration is paramount

Although the main contractor has the final responsibility towards the client, this does not mean that they cannot be the proponents of shared-responsibility and trust down the supply chain. Contractor-supplier relationships are not and should not be buyer-seller relationships. Long-term partnerships enforced by information-centric technology have the potential to reduce risk and inefficiencies in the construction sector. Interoperable data is key in this regard. If all construction actors can exchange valid and verified data through the maximum automation and elimination of human error. Through technology, this will already have the foundations of a future digitally empowered construction industry securely laid.

Issues that Cobuilder Collaborate aims to solve

Resources:

Makkinga R, De Graaf RS, Voordijk H. Successful verification of subcontracted work in the

construction industry. Syst Eng. 2018;1–10. https://doi.org/10.1002/sys.21425