WHAT DO ARCHITECTS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT USING PRODUCT MANUFACTURER’S DATA TO MAKE CONFIDENT SPECIFICATION DECISIONS?

Product data and product information supplied by manufacturers in the construction industry is currently the subject of much debate and discussion.

For architects and specifiers to make informed decisions about which construction products will help them to deliver safe, healthy and comfortable buildings, product data must be relevant, accurate and up to date.

Underpinning all of this is the goal of achieving a ‘golden thread’ of information on construction projects. The golden thread is a concept that was endorsed by Dame Judith Hackitt as a way of improving safety in buildings and delivering design intent. Terms like ‘golden thread’ can mean different things to different parties, having slightly different definitions depending on the way that different parties use information and data.

What is the difference between construction product information and product data?

Much like the concept of the golden thread, the ways in which people and organisations define information and data relating to construction products can vary.

Speaking as a construction product manufacturer, Polyfoam XPS generally views its data as being ‘raw’ information related to the product itself. Product data describes the performance of our products as determined by testing, whether carried out by ourselves or an independent third party.

Product information, meanwhile, can feature product data, but puts it in a wider context – for example by explaining how the product was tested, or explaining the meaning of a test result so that a specifier knows how to interpret the result.

The Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI) has been developed during the course of 2021, and defines product information as: “Any information about a construction product made available to internal and/or external stakeholders. This includes but is not limited to, product information given in writing, in print, online, electronically or in an advertisement.”

Why is digital product data important?

However you define product data and product information, making information available and accessible is essential for specifiers to be able to use it with confidence. Digitised product data is a key aspect of the golden thread, as The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has explored thoroughly in their plain language guide, Digitisation for construction product manufacturers.

While the guide has very much been written with product manufacturers as the target audience, the topics explored by the guide are important to specifiers as well. There are clearly written sections looking at the role of product data post-Grenfell, and the place that 3D BIM objects have in the digital landscape.

Developing an understanding of these topics can help specifiers to have more informed conversations with product manufacturers. Through this kind of dialogue, both parties can develop ways of working that will help make the golden thread a reality.

How is Polyfoam XPS managing its product data and product information?

One of the most significant impacts of both the CCPI and the IET’s report is the impetus they have generated within manufacturers’ organisations to assess existing processes and look for areas of improvement. That is something we have done, and continue to do, at Polyfoam XPS.

While we continue to evaluate our internal data management and examine what the concept of ‘structured data’ would mean for us, Polyfoam XPS remains a partner with NBS. That means you can find our products on NBS Source, a free-to-use construction product platform that allows you to quickly and easily find, select and specify our products.

Product data is available in NBS standardised specification format, and our profile includes our third-party certification, giving the detailed information needed to make informed product decisions.

Our NBS Source links are also available in the technical support area of our website, where you can contact us about your project, read more posts from our blog, view our online CPD session, or subscribe to receive our monthly newsletter.