Easily accessing BIM data for products is key for any designer. Lars Fredenlund CEO of coBuilder AS describes the approach taken by Knauf Insulation
“When will the iPhone 7s be released, and how different will it be from the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus? And what tech specs and new features should we expect from it?” Questions such as these seem to intrigue everyone in the consumer technology market. Why isn’t there an analogue in the field of construction product manufacturing, where the stakes are high, and an incremental innovation can mean quite a lot for businesses, people and the environment? As data experts, we at coBuilder like to always point out “Because of data, of course”. So what is the data challenge that keeps us from being excited about construction product’s performance?
Big impact hidden in BIM data
As a highly innovative company, recognised brand and an insulation market leader, Knauf Insulation has recently invested €5m in their Rock Mineral Wool factory. The investment in new technology, equipment and capacity has led to great improvement in the thermal performance of a range of products. Now, as this may not be as exciting as a new 3D camera, an improvement in the thermal performance of a building has the potential to reduce its operational energy and associated negative impact on the environment. This is incredibly important! But how do you communicate it with the market? This is where the challenge lies.
Back in the day
Believe it or not, back in the day even Apple products used to communicate their characteristics in lengthy two-page spreads in the newspapers. Then, information transfer moved on to the floppy disk, the CDROM, and finally, the Internet. However, as the digital universe continued to grow exponentially, construction product manufacturing businesses lagged behind and at the present day are faced with a problem: how to manage and structure their data so they can communicate an accurate, consistent message to their clients.
When it comes to the question that holds the insight to solving this problem, once again we can draw inspiration from Apple, namely an Apple III advertisement from 1983 that asks “How to turn a sea of data into data you can see?”
The BIM approach to data
To solve the data communication challenges, Knauf Insulation has chosen to be among the first-movers to share data in a brand new way – the BIM way. BIM is understood as many things in the construction industry. However, the principles of digital collaboration and openness are always kept no matter the definition. BIM promises a synergetic data flow that builds bridges between the previously fragmented stages of construction while enriching every step of the way with invaluable knowledge in the form of structured data. Becoming a BIM-enabled manufacturer means that the all-important data about a product can be accessed freely and transferred, queried by anyone along the building’s life cycle.
Availability and interoperability
Through the goBIM plugin, Knauf Insulation offers designers the possibility to automatically attribute product information to objects in different BIM (3D CAD) software. Knauf Insulation maintains all the necessary product information and keeps it up to date in their own data repository, powered by coBuilder’s solution, goBIM. This means that the designer is always using the very latest live and up to date information. Moreover, for each product, users can obtain real attribute data, structured in a Product Data Template (PDTs) developed by coBuilder’s experts on the basis of international, European, legislative and market requirements.
Knauf Insulation can then use these PDTs to fill in different data sets as the attributes associated with IFC, COBie, EPD – so that no more is given than is required by the market. Similarly, Knauf’s customers can easily find the relevant data, documents and objects they need directly from their website. Their information can be exported into popular file formats: Excel, PDF or COBie file which is sent to an email or directly exported to proprietary software such as Revit, ARCHICAD or similar.
Data from the most credible source
Through the goBIM way of working, Knauf Insulation can save designers countless hours previously spent in researching different object libraries to find the information they need. Through goBIM designers have access to different levels of information (LoI) in addition to the attached objects. In this way, they can take only what they want, without burdening their models with useless MB’s of information. If a product is updated during the project’s stages, the data will automatically be updated without downloading new objects and replacing them in the model.
Making data great again
Whether Knauf Insulation decides to share their data online, via email, through data exports or through automatic integration – goBIM is a solution that brings numerous efficiencies to the working process for all actors in the construction sector. Through its data-driven logic, goBIM brings ease to the previously fragmented information exchange that has caused the market its disillusion with data. With data easily accessible, searchable and sharable through goBIM, all those lovely new features, new efficiencies and performance innovations can shine with a new light, maybe as bright as the latest change in the size of your iPhone’s display.
Remember! Product Data is the answer to fundamental questions that you need to be answered to make a decision. By adopting the goBIM and PDT way of working, Knauf Insulation has certainly made a strong claim on making data a driver of competitive advantage for their business. ■
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