Decoding construction: How manufacturers can meet the demand for data

Data is rising to the top as the new must-have for all players in the building industry. But what does it mean for manufacturers? Let’s decode data in construction and explore why you should make it a top priority.

What is data in construction?

Construction data is valuable information to help contractors forecast the needs of specific projects to reduce risks and produce a more favourable outcome. But how is data generated and managed?

A building project involves a vast amount of information. There are quite literally thousands of pieces of information generated for every project that needs to be gathered, analysed and shared throughout every phase of the building project

Data in construction impacts every stakeholder involved in the project. Not only does it form an intelligent baseline for how decisions are made, but it also sets the parameters for how a building is designed, how efficiently it’s built and how it can be maintained. And that's only a small portion of the benefits.

The emergence of data in the building industry

The sheer volume and velocity of data in construction today means that it’s (almost) impossible for the human brain to deal with it all. To make matters worse: big data can quickly turn into bad data. Circulating misinformation caused by outdated data and siloed systems is the breeding ground for unnecessary mishaps.

The price tag? Hefty:

  • Poor data costs the building industry €1.57 trillion globally in 2020, according to Autodesk.
  • Lack of data means that buildings and built assets generate 3.8 times more carbon than designed to achieve.

We can’t shrug off cost overruns, poor productivity and environmentally unfriendly design choices for much longer. And that’s exactly why the construction industry is turning towards data and adopting digital tools to make sense of it all.

The lust for (and lack of) digitisation in construction

But there’s a catch. See, the building industry is a technical laggard. But things are starting to change. According to our recent survey and report, 61% of architects, engineers, contractors and owners/operators expect more digital tools post COVID-19. In addition, 59% search for products online, while only 9% do it at tradeshows.

The hunger for data is partially driven by private and public actors wanting to secure sustainable, healthy and financially sound buildings. In fact, it plays such a large role in the wellbeing of our societies that policymakers are starting to mandate BIM and climate declarations.

A network of tree branches

Want to know the state of BIM in your market? Get your hands on the 2022 guide to global BIM mandates today >

Data plays a pivotal part in the design

Buildings should add aesthetic value and compliment the surrounding environment. But it’s not just about putting pen to paper and scribbling down an avant-garde design.

Every building needs to abide by a nation’s building regulations, the client’s requests and take environmental conditions and considerations into account. Architects, engineers and interior designers are moving away from “designing pretty” to designing a building’s performance.

A building’s performance is particularly important in relation to certifications. If the client requests a particular sustainability assessment, such as BREEAM or LEED, products need to be selected accordingly.

Specifiers need easy access to product information. They need to scrutinise product geometry and performance data in order to select components that align with the building project. They need to analyse the u-value, corrosion resistance, ventilation rate, fire resistance and how every component contributes to the building's Energy Use Intensity (EUI). If they can’t access all of that data, they might create a design that wrecks the construction site – and the client’s budget.

crane hovering over a construction site

The rise of BIM in the data-driven age

Digitisation and digital building processes are rising in popularity. That’s exactly why BIM, building information modelling, is starting to move from an industry outlier to an industry standard. Get the gist of BIM in this webinar >

Every model is built up with digital components, often referred to as BIM objects. But BIM objects typically fall into two categories of information precision:

  • Generic BIM objects add value through geometry as well as generic component and performance data.
  • Manufacturer-specific BIM objects represent the unique physical properties of the products plus other essential data such as energy consumption, operating costs and product lifetime. All in one file.

Generic objects can be useful during the initial design phase as a placeholder for visual expression. However, the increasing pressure on precise project and component information means the generic object needs to be replaced with a manufacturer-specific BIM object at a later stage. Translation: manufacturers who supply BIM objects are the ones who wind up in getting specified.

Managing and safeguarding product data 

Pre–BIM, specifiers had to dig for data manually. On the other side of the equation: manufacturers need to ensure that every PDF for every single product is updated with decimal-precision yearly – or even quarterly – for every market and language. That quickly escalates into a lot of information to distribute across the organisation and to specifiers.

Managing all that information and ensuring that it’s accurate is incredibly time-consuming. To make matters worse: specifiers run the risk of getting old PDFs that you’ve struggled to get out of circulation or hearing information from marketing or sales. The latter can be an inefficient and frustrating start (or halt) to any relationship.

Manufacturer-specific BIM objects can ease the information frustration and speed up the selection process. Yann Lescop, Architect at the Oeuf de Colomb, states his case in Why specifiers use BIM:

"High-quality BIM objects enable us to plan projects with real objects that reflect the conditions of the site, implementation specifications and precise dimensions before the construction phase. The result? Improved quality, higher client satisfaction and savings in both time and cost. If a manufacturer does not offer BIM objects, we will switch to a manufacturer who does."

BIM: a starting point for collaboration

OK, so. BIM objects are no longer just a ‘nice to have’. Architects demand them, so manufacturers need to supply them. But how can you get your digital products into the hands of designers? Well, you need to get them on your site and perhaps even publish them on a BIM marketplace housing architecture, engineering and construction professionals from around the world.

According to USP research, the BIMobject marketplace is considered the architect’s choice for specific BIM information. It’s reflected in our numbers, too, with a 19,2% increase in new accounts within a year (get more stats). Beyond the marketing and business benefits, the BIMobject marketplace revolves around data transactions.

Woman working on a laptop with the BIMobject business app displayed on the screen

Let’s illustrate what we mean: 

Manufacturers set up their stalls (brand and product pages) and display data-rich replicas of physical products (BIM objects). Architects, engineers and interior designers visit the marketplace for inspiration or to find products that align with the project requirements. When they find something they like, they download the BIM file and may put it into a particular design – or use them in multiple future designs.

Promote your brand and product data to designers

As with any marketplace: the supplier can deploy tactics to get greater visibility or convince bypassers to have a(-nother) look. Email campaigns offer you the opportunity to segment and send targeted marketing emails to audiences who have engaged with your brand. Forbo flooring recently sent out a COP26 focused email to their target audience on bimobject.com and saw great results:

But you can’t engage people who don’t know you exist. Search Ads help you get top-of-mind by placing your products at the top of relevant search results on bimobject.com.

Discover our tools for promoting BIM objects now >

Data brings product and business intelligence

Manufacturers need to do their fair share of homework to reach, engage and convince specifiers. But a large part of knowing your audience comes down to knowing your data. 

Every product click, follow or download generates data – data you can use to improve your product performance and reach. Furthermore, analysing audience behaviour allows you to find trends and identify new business opportunities. Radosław Kłoda, director of the investment department at Kanlux, shares his first-hand experience in 7 cases for the business value of BIM:

“BIMobject’s Analyse tool is important for us, as it shows us the number of file downloads for each product or the country from which the most interest is coming. Sometimes these are quite unexpected places like Cambodia. It is possible that this will show us the way to expand into other markets.”

Illustration of a globe with BIM product downloads around the world

Data is slowly – but surely – becoming the new standard in the building industry.

Want to play a part in the data-driven future? Book a demo today!

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