DSCiBE Munich meeting –
key takeaways for non-technical people

This 5th edition of the Digital Supply Chains in Built Environment (DSCiBE) workshop was held at the IBM Watson IoT centre in Munich on the 25th of November. More than fifty international representatives from industry associations, manufacturers, contractors, consultants, and software providers all united for this workshop to enact their commitment to a common goal – to ensure that a true digital supply chain can erupt the construction industry far beyond the efforts of singular organisations.

If you are not familiar with the DSCiBE work group, you can learn more about it here.

Key takeaways from the 5th DSCiBE workshop

1. Why is the work of DSCiBE so important?

The level of digitalisation of the construction industry is surprisingly low. Regulations around the world are emerging to boost the industry towards greener, more efficient and safer construction through digital practices. However, the maturity of data management in the sector is posing a great hurdle for meeting the benefits promised by the regulatory frameworks such as BIM Level 2 in the UK, the BIM infrastructure acts in Germany and France and so on.

digital twin

Lars Fredenlund, CEO of Cobuilder explains how DSCiBE can erupt the construction industry

Today, unresolved data management issues pose a big challenge for the construction industry. We struggle to fulfill regulations, but also to scale business models. The profitability is generally low, and we are not able to leverage the value of digital technology in the long run.

To be able to get to Industry 4.0, Circular economy and “Smart Assets” we cannot continue as we do. We need to change, and this is where the problem lies.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) was introduced to boost the digital shift in construction. But people doing BIM today are mostly focused on the “M”-part of it. They have adopted digital models and geometry but keep forgetting or neglecting that BIM is so much more.

It is developed to be a process for working collaboratively, transparently and more efficiently through digital means. But in order to make this happen we need to open our minds and take a deep and thorough look into the “non-geometrical” part of BIM – the information part – the data!

It is in the “I”-part of BIM where we can find all the data related to cost, Facilities Management (FM), Declaration of Performance (DoP) and CE-marking, carbon footprint, waste management, purchasing, calculations, specifications, building regulations and so much more.

In construction today, we handle this kind of product information in manual and analog ways, but there is an urgent need to digitize this part as well.

Other industries have succeeded in digitizing their product data. Using product identification standards by GS1 the link between the physical and digital asset has been maintained for years. How can we adopt product standardisation, interoperability and identification to create the digital passports of construction products?

digital twin

Enzo Blonk, Director Industry Engagement Technical Industries at GS1, shares insights from the market-driven standardisation in retail and how this vast experience can be translated to construction benefits

European standardisation bodies have developed new standards* (such as prEN ISO 23386 & prEN ISO 23387) that provide the recipe for how to digitize the “I”-part of BIM.

By following these standards, you can get to a state where you have turned all your product information into machine-readable data, i.e. into a “language” that all machines and computers can understand.

When machine-readable data is in place it can easily (automatically) be exchanged for different purposes across all construction stages, actors and software. Together with the digital 3D models, a golden thread to documents and identification of instance data is created- this is true BIM.

The development of the mentioned standards is supported by buildingSMART International and GS1 Standards, and many of the current DSCiBE members who have contributed to the work by providing real industry insights.

Therefore, it is of high significance that the actors of the DSCiBE group are coming together to share further insights and experiences from their implementations of the standards. They are the leaders who can showcase a proven “digitalisation path” for the industry and accelerate businesses all over the globe.

Dag Kroslid, Managing Director of Nordan AB shares the digitisation journey of NorDan that has been supported by a clear mission – to be a leading, technology driven supplier of environmentally-friendly products.

2. Forward-thinkers endorse the use of open standards

In the construction industry and in any business for that matter, it has been the rule of thumb that forward-thinkers create their own standards. However, in the world of connected cities, IoT and digital twins, this rule does not apply.

Today, forward-thinkers push for the use of common standards and a common language that can help information to flow seamlessly across all stages of a building’s, product or in fact a person’s life cycle.

Represented by Egil Berg, NCC – one of the leading construction and property development companies in the Nordic region – showcased how they have introduced a new data management process based on standards.

NCC’s new process has enabled paperless flow of data in internal systems and streamlined the exchange of information with suppliers.

In collaboration with the window manufacturer NorDan, NCC created standardised data for several construction elements using Data Templates as a common data structure and technical language. This allowed for the seamless exchange of information between the partnering organisations during specification, cost estimation and purchasing.

On the manufacturer’s side, Dag Kroslid, MD at NorDan emphasised that only 5 to 10% of windows sold in Scandinavia are sold through eCommerce and these are mostly B2C sales. A robust digital strategy is needed for the remaining 80% of sales to get manufacturers and contractors to work together using the same digital language based on open standards.

NorDan have set out this approach in a strategy called “ecoDigital Ready” with the aim of extending the work done with NCC towards creating a ‘perfekt samspill’* with further actors from the supply chain.

Josef Platil, Project Manager at Wienerberger Building Solutions

Josef Platil, Project Manager at Wienerberger Building Solutions, presented how Wienerberger’s new enterprise-level data model, based on the Data Template structure, creates the link between factory – SAP – PIM and the market through designer plug-ins.

In his presentation titled ‘From factory to project designers’ he showed how the interoperable data structures, implemented in a step-by-step approach across the entire organisation and all its brands, ensure the consistency and standardisation of product data for internal and external users.

3. Standards are part of the zeitgeist (spirit of the time)

Data is referred to as ‘the new oil’. If you – as an individual, business, country or a society – do not have access to this ‘data capital’ it will result in huge inequality issues in the time to come.

We must move with the times because the times are moving, and in order to move forward collectively as a global society we have to follow standards.

Much like what happened with the GDPR the change in the industry will not happen on its own. Big software providers will not change if there is not a push from the market.

If people don’t believe in the power of data even regulations can’t help. Today, convenience is king, but how convenient it is to live in one’s own little world? Industry actors need to be aware that establishing common ways of working with data is the only way that we can reap benefits for the whole supply chain and ultimately for society – creating a better built environment.

It is great to see that open standards for data exchange and interoperability and product identification are now being pushed forward by standardisation bodies such as CEN, ISO, buildingSMART and GS1.

However, standards for data security and intellectual property management are still hugely underdeveloped in the construction sector.

If the industry does not take an active role in this the good work that is being done on the standardisations side, advances such as Amazon-like digital platforms, smart digital twins and more will be back-lit by fear and reluctance. Intellectual property management is a very important part of innovation and should not be forgotten by companies, standardization bodies and active citizens alike.

Join the conversation

The DSCiBE is a work group open to all companies, associations and organisations that are interested to contribute in building a data-driven collaborative digital process based on existing global standards, be they Data Template standards, OpenBIM standards or Product Identification standards.

In substance DSCiBE it’s all about linking the dots.

Join the group, engage with your peers and start paving the truly digital way to true BIM implementation across the entire life cycle of assets!

For more information on joining the group, please email daskalova@cobuilder.no, fredenlund@cobuilder.com, aidan.mercer@buildingsmart.org, enzo.blonk@gs1.org

* prEN ISO 23386 Building information modelling and other digital processes used in construction — Methodology to describe, author and maintain properties in interconnected data dictionaries

prEN ISO 23387 Building Information Modelling (BIM) — Data templates for construction objects used in the life cycle of any built asset — Concepts and principles

**a Nordic term that goes further than ‘perfect collaboration’