Digital Drop In – July – Product Data

Constructing Excellence

Our first digital drop in resulted in some lively discussions around the issue of product data.

Tom Oulton introduced the meeting and the importance of the Digital Theme Group.  Tom reinforced the role of digital technologies to improve client’s experience throughout the project and into the life of the asset.  BIM initially focussed on designers and contractors and not so much on the value of BIM to clients.

There is a clear need to consider how BIM can capture useful data for running a digital estate for operations and maintenance.  Tom referenced the limitations of COBie for running a digital estate.  Tom shared some of the work he has been doing with the water industry on product data.  The water industry very much understands the importance of asset information and the need to understand product data templates.  The work that was carried out with BIM4Water has resulted in templates that sit with British Water.

Tom and the CE Digital Group are now working with the Construction Innovation Hub and the Lexicon Project to how to transfer this approach beyond the water sector into the rest of industry.  They are seeking to identify best practice and a meeting is scheduled for 13 August to progress this.

A lively debate ensued including:

  • Move from documents to database formats – The group discussed the  limitations of spreadsheets and the need to use structured databases that connect into digital platforms.
  • Limitations of unstructured data – the concept of digital lakes can rapidly become digital sewers (TM Alex Small) as the provenance and attributes of the data is unclear. They can become aggregators of out of date data.
  • Tom compared where we are now to a low level Pokemon – there are lots of iterations to go to achieve the full potential.
  • To bring in AI technologies and virtual environments data needs to be standardised and there needs to be a split of data and objects to make it accessible and machine readable.
  • It is difficult to incentivise smaller players in the sector to embrace digital technologies – so there needs to be a drive from the top down, from clients and major contractors through their supply chains.
  • Such a system requires a neutral host to provide federated and independent hosting with secure access.  SCC is developing a solution that could provide that access – Mike to share details with the group.


The next digital drop-ins are taking place as follows:


  • Tom Oulton, Chair, CE Digital, CE Yorkshire & Humber and Turner & Townsend
  • Rasha Ibrahim, Senior Research Fellow, Leeds Beckett
  • Bryn Mainwaring, BRE BIM Advisor
  • Mike de Souza, Business Development, SCC Group
  • Patrick Scannell, Buildots
  • Sesitwa Mohlala, Cost Manager, Turner & Townsend
  • Paul Wilkinson, MD,
  • Alex Small, BIM & Digital Platforms Manager, Tata Steel
  • Taher Mohamed, PhD Student, Loughborough
  •  Alison Nicholl, Head of Constructing Excellence