“Many people talk about BIM, but few realise the importance of product data. Seamless collaboration is only possible if we follow commonly agreed frameworks developed for the entire construction sector. This is why, the adoption of data structures based on existing standards is paramount to ensure full interoperability.”
A common digital strategy for the European woodworking industry
CEI-Bois develops a data-driven BIM platform to help manufacturers standardise and digitise their data
CEI-Bois is the European Confederation of Woodworking Industries. It represents 21 European and National organisations and more than 180’000 companies.
Many of the actors in the timber industry are small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) that are at different levels of digitalisation. To support its members in their digitalisation efforts, CEI-Bois identified the need of a common digital strategy which seeks to enable the adoption of a common data model for digitising product data and a streamlined process for product data management.
Manufacturers would like to provide their data in a structured format, but because of missing open templates, they still have to keep it in various formats in systems that do not facilitate data sharing. Some manufacturers start to develop their own templates or provide their data to proprietary BIM-libraries, which makes them dependent on different systems and formats. Because of the lack of a common digital language in the market, clients typically request data deliveries in different formats. Responding to such market requirements can be labour intensive, inefficient and time consuming and ultimately – not feasible for SME’s.
To address these challenges, the CEI-Bois initiative TIMBIM set out to create the foundation for common data models, in the data dictionary Define. The solution enables users to develop their product templates by selecting properties based on common descriptions and references to standards. At the same time, the application of GUIDs (Global Unique Identifiers) allows for the information to be identified by computers and algorithms when data is shared and processed. TIMBIM is ensuring that all properties and references are up to date with all harmonised standards for construction products (hEN) and compliant with relevant international standards for data management. Manufacturers no longer need to develop their own templates and can simply select the relevant ones from the newly developed platform. If they want to share the data to their partners, such as merchants or BIM-libraries, they can just deliver it automatically through an API integration service.
The data templates are already being implemented by member organisations, such as Lignum and Swedish Wood, to develop further their national databases and deliver structured, comparable and reliable data to the construction industry actors in Switzerland and Sweden.
The project will provide the European woodworking industry with a competitive edge by equipping it with the necessary means to transition into the digital and the green shift. Through high-quality, machine-readable data, the woodworking industry will be able to make the good arguments for wood visible to the investors in the early stages of their decision-making process.