As a building product manufacturer, your products are supported by a vast amount of information that you are challenged with effectively delivering to the specifying community. In recent years, we have all benefited from access to large amounts of product data that inform our consumer purchasing decisions. Likewise, architects and design professionals benefit from easy access to product data. They need high-quality data to determine if a product should be specified for a specific project.
What Does Product Data Include?
Product data is useful information about an item that is being sold. Product data includes product identifiers such as name, description, product number, stock information, videos, and images. Building product manufacturers are likely to also have manufacturing data related to materials and tolerances, dimensional data, performance data, and maintenance data. As a building product manufacturer, you likely also will have product information in the form of design files such as 3-Part Specifications, CAD drawings, and BIM models.
What Are The Challenges Building Product Manufacturers Have With Managing Product Data?
Building product manufacturers face product information challenges not encountered by manufacturers of consumer products.
Building codes vary by location.
Conventions around required documents such as written specifications differ by country.
Applicable safety standards and product performance requirements can be complicated to manage.
Different channels for reaching architects and specifiers will require different information presented in different formats.
The documents needed by architects and designers to specify products are highly technical.
Many manufacturers have data in different places including spreadsheets, databases, accounting programs, and manufacturing records.
How Can Building Product Manufacturers Overcome These Challenges?
As a Building Product manufacturer, you must face these challenges head-on to stay competitive. They can solve these challenges with a well-formulated product information strategy that includes:
A complete review of applicable laws, regulations, and building codes that apply to your product.
Understand what safety standards and product performance requirements apply to your product, and undergo standards testing at a certified laboratory.
Determine if sustainability information should be part of your product information.
Develop a compliance program for your product for applicable laws and codes, safety and performance standards, and environmental benchmarks.
Communicate the sustainability features of your products in a manner that is appropriate for the product line, and meets the requirements of the architects specifying the product.
This may include Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and relevant LEED certifications.
Ensure your product information is communicated appropriately in your design files.
Standardize your product information across your entire product portfolio.
Remember that your product data can improve the trust the design community has in your products. Follow best practices for data management to build trust with architects and design professionals. This includes creating internal policies for managing your product data. Take the time to ensure your data is standardized. Centralize your data into a single repository. This will give you complete control over your product data, and help maintain accuracy. To ensure your data stays accurate, create policies for data validation, quality checks, and data audits. Also, ensure your product data is secured from unauthorized access. Take the time to implement backup and recovery procedures in the event your data is compromised or lost.
Why Are Many Building Product Manufacturers Grappling With Their Product Data?
The construction industry has traditionally been seen as behind the times when it comes to adopting new technologies. There is always resistance to change, and this resistance is amplified in the construction industry. Tackling data issues takes time and investment. Resources are finite and other issues are also pressing. Building product manufacturers are facing a volatile construction market as well as material and labor shortages. Manufacturers have been reluctant to take the first required steps to tackle their data issues, but that is starting to change.
Many in the industry have made investments in digital capabilities over the last few years. Much of this investment has gone into improving Buiding Information Modelling (BIM) integration, improved e-commerce capabilities, and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for production line improvements. Building product manufacturers recognize these investments translate to a competitive advantage and reduced costs.
On an industry level, there are product data issues that need to be addressed. Manufacturer product information is not structured or shared consistently. While specific documentation has requirements and standards, there is no requirement for building product manufacturers to provide this documentation. For example, for 3-Part Specifications, the required information and structure are determined by the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) in coordination with Construction Specifications Canada (CSC). This promotes ease of communication and standardization. However, not all manufacturers offer 3-Part Specifications. If they do, the documents may be out of date, or may not have been prepared with strict adherence to the requirements of CSI or CSC.
As a building product manufacturer, you are responsible for providing accurate product information. However, once a product is specified and installed, the responsibility for accurate information is not as clear-cut. Often if a product fails, it was used incorrectly or installed with incompatible products. You lose control of your products once they leave your facilities. Your products can be misused. A strong data structure that communicates your product attributes can help avoid having your products misused. This in turn protects your reputation as a manufacturer and avoids issues of liability.
If you are interested in discussing how CADdetails can help leverage your product data and get your products specified, Book a call with us today!
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