Hansueli Schmid

Project Manager
at Lignum

“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.”

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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.

  • 1. As part of CEI-Bois, members of the wood industry in Sweden, Finland, Austria and Switzerland established the initiative TIMBIM to take the lead on the digitalisation efforts of the European woodworking sector.
  • 2. The TIMBIM workgroup gained access to a number of data templates based on relevant harmonised European standards. The data templates were reviewed by the workgroup to assess the need for creating additional properties for describing the different construction objects.
  • 3. While some of the TIMBIM members worked on developing the additional properties, others took on the role of subject matter experts to validate and approve the newly created content according to the process described in the standard for interconnected data dictionaries EN ISO 23386.
  • 4. So far, the TIMBIM collaboration has resulted in the creation of 12 different data templates that enable manufacturers and other construction industry actors to capture and exchange reliable, interoperable data about wood products. The data templates are developed based on 7 different harmonised standards. In addition, TIMBIM supported the integration of general properties, such as environmental indicators according EN 15804, which are applicable to all building materials to assess the environmental impact of a building. The workgroup developed also properties that provide a structure for describing plants – wood species, based on the standard EN 350. These will enable actors to provide information on wood species in trade and could be extended to properties that can be used in the trade of plants in landscaping and gardening.
  • 5. The newly developed data templates are now available to view and download from a designated page which can be accessed through the CEI-Bois website.
  • 6. As a next step, the data templates will also be made available through an API service, which will enable organisations to integrate them directly within their own digital solutions and databases.
  • 7. The TIMBIM workgroup will continue to expand their platform by develop additional data templates.

Expected results

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.