UK BIM Alliance looks at standardising product data

The UK BIM Alliance has launched a working group to help make the process of sharing product data more simple and standardised. The group will support the industry in coming together to meet the challenges of product data use and management.

The working group will be led by Su Butcher, social strategist and UK BIM Alliance executive team member. The announcement comes after Butcher and Alliance chair Anne Kemp held a meeting with key stakeholders at the IET in London in January.

The meeting identified the needs of clients and product manufacturers which could provide a way forward for sorting out what it calls ‘the thicket of product data’.

This includes:

  • A structured approach to product data.
  • A set of standards, which need to be developed in conjunction with Europe.
  • A national body with international connections which can work with industry to develop an agreed set of data requirements.
  • Separate hosting services which are simple and cost effective, from which participants can access the information required.
  • A process for inputting, validating, and tracking product data.
  • Agreement on terminology – a “Data Dictionary” of some sort.
  • The ability to deal with security concerns of all parties in relation to product data.
  • A process of demonstrating the benefit of structured product data to industry and simple communications about how to comply and deliver what is required.

Kemp said: “This initiative is essential to bring the industry together on this difficult topic. It also demonstrates how the Alliance can provide independent leadership and identify and fill the gaps that are preventing implementation of BIM.”

The working group will be made up of volunteers. Once constituted it aims to spend three months consulting widely and will produce a short report identifying areas where solutions exist, where they need investigating and where further work needs to be done.

Butcher trained as an architect and now works with product manufacturers. “This is a topic very close to my heart, as I see the difficulty both product manufacturers and architects currently have working with data,” she said.

“Many manufacturers are unwilling to invest any more time because they simply don’t feel there is an agreed framework and standards to work to. Many architects don’t feel they can access the right information in the right format, and clients and contractors have issues too. The aim of the Alliance is to move us along the journey to resolve those issues, and bring the whole industry with us.”

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