Construction products

A structured approach for better construction products

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Rick Hartwig, responsible for the built environment at Engineering and technology institution, discusses the importance of structured data and embracing digitization to improve the performance and safety of construction products

“Accept” and “save” are different words that mean different things, but people often use the wrong one. As a result, their meanings got confused, which can lead to confusion. “Scanning” and “scanning” have the same problem but maybe worse because they are difficult to pronounce!

These two terms also have different meanings. Without one you cannot reach the other, so it is important not to neglect one in the clamor to reach the other.

Digitization and digitization have often been used interchangeably. The time has come for manufacturers to recognize them as two words with very different results.

This confusion was highlighted when in the fall of 2020, the Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET) launched a series of blogs and subsequent open calls, under the banner of Manufacturers’ Product Data: A Plain Language. Guide.

Digitization

Digitization transforms your sources of product information, analog and disconnected data, into a connected digital form. Structured information is essential for your business to run more efficiently.

Digitization:

Is the first step towards compliance. Regulation is coming after Grenfell and structured, secure, verified and interoperable product information will be a key requirement of the legislation which is called “the golden thread”.

Supports integrity. It is only through digital transparency that industry and society can confidently confirm product compliance. Digitally transparent manufacturers will demonstrate their commitment to integrity.

Has a commercial sense. A manufacturer providing precise and structured product data is more profitable, more efficient, more stable and more reliable.

Will your business stand the test of time and ultimately the sector which will require product traceability and proof of conformity.

Digitization makes this scanned information work for you in your existing business – benefiting from things like e-commerce, product tracking (object identifiers) or contributing to a digital twin, a thread of gold or a building logbook.

Ten years ago, BIM was launched as the panacea for the construction industry – it was the solution to all our problems and would make us more efficient, reduce costs and therefore improve profitability. Part of this drive towards digitalization was that manufacturers were encouraged to create BIM objects, which over time proved to be of no real benefit without structured data.

Grenfell underscored the need for construction product data that is readily available in a secure and verifiable manner for the supply chain and building owners and operators. A slew of building safety laws are coming, with responsible folks, gateways, and a new building products regulator, all of which will require structured data.

Connection of sources

Many manufacturers keep their data in several different places, such as spreadsheets, databases, CRM and ERP systems, accounting programs, and manufacturing records. The first step in digitization must be to connect these sources and organize the data whatever it is:

  • Organized according to a predefined pattern, the data becomes machine readable and easy to analyze.
  • Only available to those who are authorized to view it but available in case of emergency.
  • Guaranteed to be accurate by being traced back to the source.
  • Capable of being transferred with precision between software platforms, such as those used by different actors in the supply chain.
  • To be effective, certain data must be regularly updated so that it remains alive, accurate and relevant to its users.

The blog series mentioned above made a significant contribution to the latest EIT publication, Digitization for Building Product Manufacturers – A Plain Language Guide. This simple guide shows how a manufacturer can make structured information available to the supply chain.

The guide contains a sample procedure for developing a data strategy that you can adapt to your own business structures. Whether you are a small and medium business, a mid-size business, or a large international business, all businesses will face similar issues and the principles will be the same. The structuring of your data is a challenge of continuous improvement; you can identify issues that will take time and resources to resolve, or the process can be relatively straightforward.

We are at the start of a transformation journey in the construction industry and manufacturers are expected to play their part. You don’t have to wait to scan your construction product information. If you wait for the right time to act, there is no time like the present.

Rick hartwig

Built environment manager

The Institution of Engineering and Technology

Phone. : +44 (0) 1438 313 311

[email protected]

www.theiet.org

Twitter: @theiet

LinkedIn: Digitization for construction product manufacturers

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Instagram: @theiet



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