Connecting the construction supply chain through a common digital language
The construction industry needs to change. Old business models and processes relying on manual labour and mechanical technologies no longer serve us when addressing challenges, such as low productivity and climate change. To unlock the full potential of modern digital technologies, we must implement a common digital language.
In the past 20 years, modern digital technologies have transformed many industries worldwide. Yet, construction has not been able to fully capitalize on the latest technological advancements. Although Building Information Modelling has had a significant impact on the sector, construction remains one of the least digitised industries worldwide. The main reason is its inability to connect all available technologies, systems, and tools.
Mind the gap
The construction supply chain continues to operate in “information silos” that cause fragmentation. Each actor manages the same information in a specific format, structure, or system, resulting in inefficient processes, errors and delays that ultimately lead to time and cost overruns.
To break away from poor information management practices and analogue processes, the construction industry needs a common digital language that both machines and people can understand.
Stepping into the digital and the green shift
To enable interconnectivity within the global construction sector, the international standardisation bodies CEN and ISO have developed a set of standards that provide a framework describing how construction data should be modelled, managed and shared. In effect, this framework is a recipe that enables the industry to create and implement a common digital language.
By ensuring free information flow across the entire supply chain, the construction sector will be able to finally bridge the gap between design, manufacturing, and production. Such digital language is key not only for improving efficiency and accuracy in all business processes, but also for the adoption of modern digital technologies, such as machine learning, internet of things, artificial intelligence, etc.
Finally, by unlocking the potential of high-quality data and modern technologies, construction will be able to address the demand for reducing its impact on the environment. By being able to compare and select products based on specific criteria, automate carbon footprint calculations, or ensure easy access to all data necessary for reuse and recycling, we can address climate change in an efficient and sustainable way.
In standards we trust
At Cobuilder, we firmly believe that data standardisation is key for the digital and the green shift. This is why, all of our digital solutions are built upon industry standards and enable organisations to implement a common, standardised, machine-readable language.
A common data model – the data template
In practical terms, a common digital language is achieved by establishing and implementing a specific common information structure – a data model. In construction, this data model is called “data template”.
In simple terms, the data model provides the definition and format of data. According to West and Fowler (1999) “if this is done consistently across systems then compatibility of data can be achieved. If the same data structures are used to store and access data, then different applications can share data.”
This is the main purpose with the data template structure developed by the standardisation bodies CEN and ISO. Data templates ensure that all information about construction products, materials, systems, and spaces can be shared in a way that is both human-understandable and fully machine-readable. Data templates enable free flow of high-quality, reliable data that can serve the information needs of all the different actors within the global construction sector, while ensuring that nothing can be misinterpreted or lost during a digital information exchange.
The data templates are an integral part of all Cobuilder’s solutions to ensure that your data is of the highest quality no matter the system or tool it is used in.