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Spinning the Golden Thread: Data Management and Data Quality

Welcome to our webinar, Spinning the Golden Thread: Data Management and Data Quality. Featuring a special guest presentation from Deeo CEO Mark Williams and Twinnedit Media Master Jodie Davies, this webinar will cover the use of the Twinnedit platform to collate, manage and distribute complex building datasets. This will be followed by an overview of the upcoming construction product information code consultation from Proctor Group Managing Director Keira Proctor.

The presentation will be followed by a live Q&A session, hosted by Keira Proctor, with Mark and Jodie alongside the Proctor Group Technical Team.

The webinar covers the following topics:

Twinnedit:

  • Twinnedit Platform Overview & History
  • Data management and distribution
  • Platform demonstration
  • Use cases for Housing associations and High Risk Residential Buildings (HRRBs)

Proctor Group:

  • Construction Product Information Code Introduction
  • Manufacturer testing and data obligations
Webinar Transcript

Good morning, and welcome to todays webinar. My names Keira Proctor, managing director of the A. Proctor Group, and today we’re joined by special guests Mark Williams and Jodie Davies from Deeo, to take a look and the creating, management and use of construction product data, both now and in the future.

We’ll start off today by passing over to Mark and Jodie for a look at their Twinnedit platform for managing and distributing complex project datasets, then follow up with an overview of construction product information code consultation and some of the steps we take as a manufacturer to ensure we keep everything accurate and up to date.

As usual we’ll follow up with a Q&A session where we’ll be joined by Mark and Jodie along with our panel of technical experts. So if you have any questions during the presentations, you can type them into the chat box here, DM us on twitter @proctorgroup or email them to .

So let now pass over to Mark Williams to start things off.

Introduction

Many thanks for to Mark and Jodie for their excellent presentation, and we’ll pick up with them again shortly in the Q&A session.

To follow that up, we thought it might be useful to take a look at the recommendation around product data, and what we as a manufacturer do to ensure designers and installers have access to the right information to make informed decision throughout the process.

This is particularly relevant now, as not only do we have the recommendations made Dame Judith Hackitt’s report to consider, but also the expiry in 2022 of the European Construction Product Regulation and the associated CE-mark scheme. 

While the CPR and CE-mark continue to be acceptable until 2022, and its likely the initial replacement system and it’s standards will be essentially identical this still marks an important change in how products are assessed. 

Dame Hackitt summarised the importance of data like this:

“Everybody deserves to feel secure in the knowledge that the buildings in which they live, work and play have been built safely and to the right standards. Provision of clear and unambiguous information on the products and systems that have been used is an essential part of providing the Golden Thread which is key to rebuilding confidence and trust in the sector.”

As recent events have illustrated, even with an established and well understood system in place, there exists scope for incorrect data to find its way into the system. Going forwards, it’s therefore important that every stakeholder is engaged in ensuring this scope is minimised.

To this end, Dame Hackitt established “need for action” in the following areas:

Establishment of a more transparent and robust specification and testing regime

Streamlining and greater clarity on standards to avoid confusion and misinterpretation

Improved product information so that the right products are used in the right applications

Traceability – with records maintained for product tracing and system assurance.

These areas are all roughly within the scope of the outgoing European legislation, so presents a good opportunity to build a robust replacement framework.

CPIC/Code Consultation

An important step toward this is the development of the Construction Products Association’s proposed Construction Product Information Code, the consultation documents for which were released in January this year. 

We should stress that this is just a consultation, and is therefore still subject to changes. It is however a good indicator of where current “best practice” guidance may be heading, and also a useful guide to what data is needed when considering project management in the context of the “golden thread” .

Developed by the CPA’s marketing integrity group, the code consultation is based on five principle criteria. These criteria state that for product and performance information to be trusted, it should be:

  • Clear
  • Accurate
  • Up-to-date
  • Accessible
  • and Unambiguous

Code Clauses

The code aims to fulfil these criteria through 11 clauses, or “robust ways of working”. Adherence to which will enable designers to make reliably informed choices from design and specification stages, through installation, use and maintained, to the eventual disposal. 

These clauses are subdivided into phases, “Information Creation”, “Core Information”, “Associated Information” and “Support and Competence”.

Information Creation

The first three clauses cover the creation and maintenance of product information, establishing clear responsibilities, processes and structures to ensure any distributed data is both accurate and up to date. 

Clause one requires named, technically competent individuals to take responsibility for technical accuracy of information as it is created, and this should be done such that a clear audit trail exists including both internal and external communications. 

Manufacturers must also have, and be able to demonstrate, clear processes in place to keep this information up to date across all channels, including third parties such as distributors and external marketing  agencies. 

Alongside this, Clause 2 requires the implementation of clear version control processes across all product information, thus ensuring downstream users of the data can be sure they are working from the most up to date information.

Clause 3 covers the appropriate usage of wording, abbreviations and imagery to ensure the products performance is not exaggerated or misrepresented. 

This clause also encourages limiting highly technical terminology to contexts where it is appropriate and necessary. This aims to facilitate a clearer understanding for the widest range of users of the information, rather than for example expecting tenants of a property to interpret information intended for skilled engineering staff. 

Core Information 

Clauses 4-7 seek to ensure information provided is relevant, up to date and is able to adequately demonstrate fitness for the intended purpose of the product. This also helps to ensure that accurate and relevant comparisons can be made between similar materials, something that is a particular strength of the CE-mark approach.

These clauses also cover the provision of full detail relating to product certification and testing data. Such information must be provided in full, and any performance claims suitably evidenced so there is no ambiguity over precise details of the application and how they relate to intended performance in service. 

All of this information, and any supporting documentation should be made available publicly with as little friction as possible, in a similar way the current CE Declarations of Performance. These clauses also make recommendations towards ensuring the performance of the supplied product matches that of the materials used in testing. 

Where this differs in spirit from CE marking is the element of suitability for an specific application, in that a CE mark does not necessarily make any comment regarding the suitability of a product for a specific application or situation, in the way that for example a 3rd party certificate provided by the  BBA or an equivalent does. 

For example we’ve talked in previous webinars about the differences between the various types of roof underlay, HR vs LR, airtight vs air-open and how the design considerations differ between them. 

A CE mark will treat all such membranes the same, which will allow their material characteristics and physical properties to be compared, however it does not consider how these properties affect compliance with national building standards in the way 3rd party certification will. 

Likewise it’s important that such certification is made available in full, as it may contain conditions such as limitations on substrates or adjacent materials that could have a significant impact on the as-built performance of superficially similar constructions. Clarity and transparency are the key aspects to avoiding such problems arising unintentionally. 

Associated Information

The next pair of clauses cover “associated information” and address the handling and installation of the product, followed by the equally important life-cycle aspects of the buildings operation, maintenance and eventual disposal. 

As our regular viewers might remember, we’ve covered the gaps between design and as built performance before, and we also discussed on installer training and installation verification last time in relation to gas protection. 

So the recommendations in clause 8 which include significantly enhanced detail on installation practices, specified competence levels for installers and inspection, testing and commissioning are a welcome step towards reducing some of these considerations. 

Clause 8 also helps identify important longer term considerations, facilitating a more consistent and structured approach to life cycle assessments and planning for end of life reuse and recycling of materials. 

Although such assessments are nothing new, having consistent information available to designers, contractors and property managers across a wider range of systems and materials will lower the bar to wider adoption, and also make these assessment considerable more accurate and useful.

Similarly, clause 9 which covers consistency and accuracy in warranty statements relating to products should help reduce ambiguity in what is and is not covered. 

Support & Competence

Lastly, the final two clauses cover support and competence, so the qualification and training of technical support staff and staff involved in the creation and distribution of product data. 

While perhaps less relevant to external parties, it again provides an assurance to those involved in the design process that product manufacturers have in place a robust, and auditable procedure for ensuring the advice they give is accurate and up to date. 

Summary

So taken together, these 11 clauses provide a robust set of criteria that we as product manufacturers can apply to our materials and systems to ensure we provide data to our partners and customers that is useful to them. 

Its no longer sufficient to simply have a product which provides “the best” physical properties, if this technical performance is let down by a lack of clarity in how this performance is integrated into the entire life cycle of the building. 

We saw earlier how important data regarding safety critical systems in high risk residential projects can be used in ways far beyond what would have been considered “building design” even relatively recently. Likewise the cost and time savings associated with the use of BIM have been evident in large construction projects for some time. 

As these approached filter through to all parts of the industry, manufacturer data cannot become the “weakest link” that defeats designers aspirations to accurately model their designs form cradle to grave.

In this respect initiatives like the Construction Product Information Code provide everyone a clear instructions et to ensure we live up to being responsible partners to our networks of designers and contractors. 

APG Data Initiatives

While it may still be at the consultation stage, many of the components of it are things that we here at the proctor group have undertaken for some time, not least by offering unrestricted access to our libraries of product information, certification, BIM objects and installation guidance. 

But in doing this, we introduce challenges around ensuring this is kept up to date across a variety of platforms, which we are no working to address with product data application programming interface or API and associated systems of notifications.

In the previous model, a tangle of manual processes between internal and external facing staff kept everything up to date. This is workable, if time intensive, for first party assets such as our own website and staff training. 

On the other hand however, ensuring the wider network of product listing sites, 3rd party data libraries and ultimately, end user libraries is working form the latest information is a lot more challenging. The updated information must be “pulled” by the end users, limiting our control over this part of the process and making it harder to “retire” outdate information.

In an API-based data distribution model, the asset, be it a brochure, product certificate or CPD presentation, can be automatically pushed to our own website and any 3rd party distribution that chooses to partner with us directly with full traceability as to what changes were made, when they were made, and who authorised the change. 

Alongside this, notifications can be made automatically to any downstream users of the data, including staff, online sales channels, external product directories and even directly to end users should they opt in to receive them. 

This changes the nature of the information distribution form a pull process, requiring manual checking that data is up to date, to a push process, where notification as to update is under the control of data creators rather then recipients.

This “master” copy of the data can also, where possible be used to automatically update any assets or services, such as our BIM object data or any third party software like u-value or SAP calculation software that can support importing data via APIs. 

Again, while this may not be universally possible right now, if manufacturers do not take a lead making these systems available, there is no incentive for software vendors to take the required steps at their end. So once again, working together to promote best practice across all industry sectors and stakeholders, we can play a vital role moving the industry to a more robust and data centric future.

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