Implementing the common digital language of the Danish construction industry

The Danish construction knowledge center Molio has partnered up with Cobuilder to create a common data dictionary for the Danish construction industry. The goal of this project is to establish a common digital language that enables information to flow freely between all actors. We met with the project manager, Mikkel Nygaard Rønne, to get an update on the progress and to learn more about Molio’s approach to the task at hand.

Driving big change by taking small steps

Mikkel joined the project in June of 2021, bringing in his extensive experience within development and implementation of BIM and virtual design and construction practices.

‘Driving digital transformation in organisational processes, and even more so across the entire construction sector, is a very complex task, says Mikkel.’ My belief is that if we want to succeed in bringing about big changes, we have to take one small step at a time.’

Developing a common data dictionary and implementing a common digital language across the entire construction sector is a huge undertaking that will require a lot of effort and time. Therefore, Molio has chosen to adopt an agile approach. Тheir priority is to address specific scenarios within the industry and provide solutions to the market as they mature.

‘Getting the new digital content out to the customers is paramount’, continues Mikkel. ‘If and when we succeed, we will start to see the real potential of implementing new digital processes in the construction industry. It’s crucial for our users to get a first-hand successful experience with data collaboration before they can see the value that it can bring.’

As part of this agile approach, in thе past few months Molio has been working simultaneously on different aspects, starting with establishing a dialog with the industry and creating the organisation behind the entire project.

‘What we hope to achieve by the beginning of 2022 is to be able to support information flow of standardised digital data, and over time to implement it in construction processes on real-world projects.’

Creating the common digital language

Another important aspect has been the work on the new Danish content. For this purpose, Molio has been using the Define Data Dictionary which enables them to implement all relevant international standards for construction data management. Such a standard-based approach ensures that the data is of high quality and can flow freely between different systems and BIM tools. As a starting point, Molio took advantage of data templates and construction object properties based on relevant European product standards and developed by Cobuilder.

‘Creating the new Danish context requires input from many different experts within the Danish construction sector, explains Mikkel. ‘This is why we have engaged actors across the entire industry. We have set up a steering committee comprising experts from all points in the construction supply chain. This way we can ensure that we will be able to address their specific information needs.’

Molio has also created additional user groups of subject matter experts whose task is to qualify and do quality assurance of the new digital content created in the Define Data Dictionary. Their job is to review and approve the first batch of created properties according to the process described in the European standard EN ISO 23386. This is essential to ensure that nothing gets ‘lost in translation’ when the data is exchanged and used by all the different actors across the industry.

In order to ensure quality and confidence in the data exchange, the standard EN ISO 23386 establishes a rigorous system of validation of all digital content.

‘Currently we are developing a range of properties that will enable actors to exchange digital data during the design stage in accordance with the Danish LOD framework, called the Construction Element Specification, as well as properties that are essential for operations and maintenance.’

Engaging the industry

The properties that Molio has created so far will be structured into data templates within the Define Data Dictionary. These will be made available to the users both through a public view page as well as through an API service that will allow construction companies and software providers to integrate them directly into other IT solutions.

‘This is why, it has been essential to involve the digital experts within the sector at a very early stage, and this is what we have done. We are working closely with software providers and people with BIM competencies – the digital army of the construction sector.’

These are the people who will be integrating the new digital content, and their input is crucial for the practical implementation of the data flow across the industry.

‘What we have done in the project so far is to try and engage, establish a dialog with as many different stakeholders as possible – from the decision makers to the digitalisation specialists and, of course, the construction industry experts across the entire length of the value chain. You might call it a 360° approach.’

The response that Molio has received so far from the industry has been very enthusiastic.

‘The Danish construction sector is ready for a digital transformation. What we hope to see going forward is companies actually taking the next step and starting to require consistent data based on standardised processes and frameworks.’