What is happening in Norway?

The Norwegian construction industry is among the world leaders when it comes to digitalisation. Its success may be contributed to the fact that all efforts are initiated by the industry itself. Industry organisations, such as The Federation of Norwegian Construction Industries (BNL), play a major role in developing digital strategies for the entire sector. These efforts receive full attention and support by the government and construction industry actors. Here you can learn more about the latest digital strategy developed by BNL for the Norwegian construction sector and how it is reflected and related to various initiatives by other industry stakeholders.

In October 2020, The Federation of Norwegian Construction Industries (BNL) published the updated digitals strategy of the Norwegian construction sector – Digital roadmap 2.0.

The Federation of Norwegian Construction Industries (BNL) is an umbrella organisation for 15 different sectors within the construction industry and has more than 4,000 member companies with nearly 70,000 employees.

Here are some of the key points in the new digital strategy of the Norwegian industry.

The digital strategy is part of the overall strategy

The new digital roadmap provides some practical advice to company management on how to approach digitalisation. It underlines the importance of taking ownership and leadership. According to BNL’s advice, delegating the digital strategy to IT managers is never a good idea, because it should be an integral part of the company’s overall strategy and business plans.

Another key point is that the digital strategy should involve the entire organisation, not specialists only. It should explore new ways of increasing efficiency, new work processes and even new business models.

Last but not least, it is important to remember that businesses are dependent on digital interaction with customers and suppliers, as well as with public authorities. This is why, the digital strategy should follow common industry guidelines.

‘Do not throw away time and money on creating systems that do not talk to other systems. Follow and contribute to the development of common digital components for the entire industry!’

Digital roadmap 2.0

We must digitise together

Another important topic in the report Digital roadmap 2.0 is the need for “common digital components”.

Improving collaboration between stakeholders is one of the main goals of digitalisation. But to be able to share information digitally, actors must ensure that they “speak the same language”. The report highlights the need of implementing common standards and common components to enable machine-to-machine information exchange.

According to the Norwegian digital roadmap, these are the basic prerequisites that must be in place in order to build an ecosystem / collaborative platform within the construction industry. The Federation of Norwegian Construction Industries proposes the establishment of a national council with representatives from the public sector and the construction industry that can take ownership and work further with the development of a common framework for information management in the construction industry.

‘If all companies and government agencies develop unique solutions and company-specific formats, we will never be able to get the efficient IT solutions that we need. We believe that those who adopt the recommended standards and work together to develop common components, will have a competitive advantage.’

International and national frameworks

The digital roadmap highlights the importance of industry standards and their adoption in Norway.

‘A number of standards, specifications and guidelines are being developed by ISO and CEN, and the Norwegian framework must adhere to these as closely as possible to ensure that the Norwegian industry becomes part of a European and international market through digitalisation.’

Based on this international framework, the digital roadmap suggests that national guidelines must be developed and provided to specify which standards will be used in Norway. In addition, the report highlights the need for delivering fundamental common services within concept definitions and framework-based dictionaries that lay the foundation for a common digital language which both people and machines can understand. To explain it simply, the digital roadmap suggests that the catalogue of definitions and the data dictionary will be the grammar of this common digital language.

The digital roadmap goes deeper into the specific actions that are needed to be able to create a common digital language. It makes direct reference to the importance of Data Templates and the two international standards EN ISO 23386 and EN ISO 23387. These standards describe the principles of how construction object data should be created to ensure data quality and machine-readability.

‘An important matter that must be solved collectively is to develop data templates (DTs) – unambiguous sets of machine-readable properties – for building materials and building systems that can be used by all Norwegian construction actors. These data templates will be used by actors to set requirements towards product properties, among other things, environmental requirements, as well as to establish the basic structure for product databases.’

Several stakeholders are currently working to establish an organisation that can take responsibility for developing, managing and distributing these data templates to the market. The work is based on two new standards EN ISO 23386 and EN ISO 23387.

Common components

Based on the agreed standards and rules, the digital roadmap establishes that there is a need to develop specific guidelines on how the Norwegian industry should “digitise together”. These guidelines must be more dynamic than the standards and must reflect the common level of experience within the industry at any time. Competence development is part of this. In addition, the report states that some common technical solutions must be developed and implemented, and suggests the following common components:

  • National Catalogue of Product Properties (Data Templates)
    Manufacturers and other actors in the construction industry must have access to an agreed set of templates for product properties in the Norwegian market. This must be aligned at the Nordic and European level.
  • Common system for identification and marking
    Project, asset and construction components must be labeled according to a common system to ensure traceability.
  • Joint arrangements for exchange of information between product databases
    In the Norwegian market, product databases are developed as commercial solutions. Construction product data must be available to users regardless of the database where the product is registered.
  • Library of generic 3D objects at component and construction element level
    According to the report, a library of generic objects can be very useful for the entire sector. As an example the report cites the use case of robotisation where there might be a need for detailed data linked to each construction object in the model. In such cases, the library of generic objects would be an excellent source for obtaining the needed information in an efficient way. Generic objects must be linked to properties defined in agreed data templates.
  • Harmonising API services
    API services are essential to enable automated information exchange. This is why, BNL proposes that a common method for machine-to-machine communication is established and used across the entire industry.
  • Access to as-built information
    The digital roadmap identifies the need for open access to as-built information. Since both private and public actors have an interest in making relevant asset information easily available, BNL suggests that such access can be provided by establishing a common database or a common mechanism for a distributed system.
  • Access to digital public and private services
    The digital roadmap identifies the need for efficient information exchange with relevant public services, such as the national cadastre and the Register of Legal Entities, but also with various private industry registers.

Helping the industry to achieve its goals

At Cobuilder, we firmly believe that digital transformation can only be achieved through a joint effort across the entire construction industry – by working on common goals and applying common frameworks. This is why, all our solutions are developed to facilitate the implementation of European and international standards for data management. We are ready to support the Norwegian construction sector on its digital journey.

Already at the end of 2019, the Norwegian Home Builders’ Association sent a letter to its members asking them to start requesting digital product data from all suppliers. As a way to ensure machine-readability, the Norwegian Home Builders’ Association would like the suppliers to implement the data template structure as means of delivering digital product information by the end of 2022. The request covers all construction products, including piping, electric and ventilation products, paints etc.

Read the open letter of the Norwegian Home Builders’ Association in full.

Product data templates are the digital building blocks we need to digitise the construction industry. It is crucial that construction products manufacturers provide machine-readable product information.

Norwegian Home Builders’ Association

Digitalisation is not only an important goal for the Norwegian construction actors, but it is also seen as a main prerequisite when it comes to implementing government strategies for reducing environmental impact.

In its newly published Climate Plan 2021-2030, the Government places specific focus on the construction industry and its role in achieving the national green strategy. One of the main objectives outlined in the plan is the higher adopt of circular practices in the construction industry. A more detailed action plan on the topic of circularity will be released in the spring.

Another important step is the implementation of specific environmental requirements as part of the Norwegian Regulations on technical requirements for construction works.

According to the Climate Plan 2021-2030, “a common system of standards and requirements for specifications are an important contribution to this work, and digitalisation and machine-readable data play a key role.” This statement is also in line with the new digital strategy of the Norwegian construction sector, Digital roadmap 2.0. It emphasizes the importance of data management standards and the use of data templates to create, capture and exchange machine readable data. ‘These Data templates will be the basis when the asset owner and the contractors set environmental requirements, among other things”, states the Digital roadmap.

Learn how you can use data templates to set environmental requirements in projects.