Smart CE Marking and BIM Standardisation
The recent Smart CE marking initiative led by Construction Products Europe (CPE) has come to address the issue of dated analog processes which are still the reality in sharing information about products and to expand and promote the use of harmonised product standards in digital construction. The Smart CE marking initiative puts forward the notion, also supported by the ongoing work by CEN, that data regarding the characteristics that qualify and quantify a product is already available in harmonised product standards. This creates a huge amount of standardised content about construction products that can be aligned with further data standardisation initiatives in order to ensure the use of a common technical language and standardised product data in BIM. This combination will allow all users to exploit the data manufacturers provide to the fullest potential.
Information about construction products is heavily regulated at the European level by Regulation EC 305/2011 (Construction Products Regulation or CPR). The Construction Products Regulations is an EU regulation aimed at harmonizing construction products information. Its goal is providing reliable technical information in regards to product performance, fire safety, sustainability, testing criteria etc., by setting a common technical language and consistent assessment methods on the EU and EEA market. Standards included in the CPR are developed by experts who participate in Technical Committees and Working Groups that bring together all interested parties such as manufacturers, regulators and consumers. The CPR provides a common technical language used by:
- Manufacturers who test products against harmonized assessment methods and declare information about product performances;
- End users who use this information to choose products most suitable to their needs and requirements;
- National authorities that monitor the compliance of products manufactured, for example, outside their country of power;
- Designers and specifiers who set requirements based on reliable and credible sources.
According to the CPR, manufacturers of construction products covered by a harmonised European standard (hEN) (or subject to a European Technical Assessment (ETA)), are obliged to issue documentation that declares the performance of the products. This document is the Declaration of Performance (DoP) and is required when a manufacturer wishes to affix the CE mark to a product. In the Declaration of Performance, the product’s performances are always declared in relation to the test methods outlined in the relevant harmonised standard. These characteristics are specified in Annex ZA, an obligatory part of any harmonised standard.
By drawing up a declaration of performance and affixing the CE mark to a product, the manufacturer demonstrates compliance with EU requirements for construction products. The DoP and CE mark also ensure the unrestricted distribution of the product within the entire EU and EEA market. They also allow the comparison between products based on the products data, thus providing informed choices and information transparency.
Figure 1 illustrates the process of sourcing product characteristics from a credible source.
The CPR explicitly sets a framework for the use of a common technical language detailed by the relevant harmonised product standard, in order to ensure the unambiguous communication of construction product information. This technical language, however, is still only available as analog data, which is not in alignment with the growing need for truly digitising product information and providing it in a machine-readable digital format.
That is why the Smart CE marking initiative in itself aims to get aligned with the ongoing standardisation in relation to digitisation processes in the construction industry. Driven by the fast shifts towards digitalisation in the construction industry, the EU has set up a programme to develop and define standards for BIM across all European countries.
In alignment with the work done by ISO/TC 59/SC 13 and CEN/TC 442, the Smart CE Marking initiative will enable users to exploit the data provided by manufacturers according to the latest standards for interoperability and data management. Cobuilder’s solutions are continuously being aligned with the most recent developments in EU standardisation and regulatory work. Using harmonised European standards as the source for defining product properties in the Product Data Templates we develop is a must for all of the products under the CPR.