Producing and Using Construction Data with a User-Driven Approach

The focus of data has long been on its production – where it comes from, how it can be extracted, how it’s organized, how much is needed. A user-driven approach to data puts consumption in the center. Instead of focusing on the data itself, the main point is using it, sharing it and providing it in a format that is specific and relevant for the end user. 

It may seem obvious, but the reality is that too rarely are the function and usage of data the starting point. Data means different things to each stakeholder, and it can only fill its purpose if it’s available in an understandable format. Tekla’s long-time BIM ambassador Leif Granholm shares his take on information processing, and the massive changes taking place. 

Data is only relevant if it can be used for a purpose

Granholm sees data consumption as one of the central issues when it comes to construction processes. Traditionally, the content and presentation of data are bundled, so the person creating a document is also the person who decides how the data in it is used. “It’s important that these aspects are separate,” Granholm explains. “The data itself is the same, but the end user defines its function because the information only serves a purpose when it’s applied to an actual scenario.”

The key is the data software that is being used. “Information should be stored in a machine-readable form so that it can always be extracted and transformed into human-readable representations based on the current need. Conceptually, it is a significant change in all of the information processing to treat data as a means to an end, not the end itself.” 

A model-based approach challenges the traditional construction value chain

Instead of a linear value chain from architect to the structural engineer to the contractor and further, using machine-readable data instead of documents allows for a more flexible, intelligent approach. “Before, the workflow has started with looking at data in documents and then automating based on that. A more sensible way is to start by looking at reality and asking what it is that we actually need, and then directly model that information on the terms the digital processes we have at our disposal. Documents can then be produced from the results if needed.” 

Projects become more efficient when all stakeholders have the same information at their disposal at the same time. “There is no one model. For example, a detailer can create a model and publish it for other stakeholders, who can then base their work on that and other models, whatever suits their purpose. Instead of a chain, it’s a collection of value-adding elements that everyone can freely use.”

“There is no one model. For example, a detailer can create a model and publish it for other stakeholders, who can then base their work on that and other models, whatever suits their purpose. Instead of a chain, it’s a collection of value-adding elements that everyone can freely use.”

BIM enables the right way of using information

Creating digital representations of real-life building plans is one way of executing the model-based approach to data. BIM solutions provide data in a format that responds to the actual physical end product and allows each stakeholder to use the building data in the best way for them. 

After all, the reality is always the starting point for each construction process, and the better your data and its processing reflect that from the get-go, the more successful your projects will be. 

 

Read also:

Why Open Standards Should Be The Gold Standard for BIM

Why True Constructibility Starts with Data

From Blueprint Copier to the Cloud - Communication Is Key in Construction

About the Author

Leif Granholm

Leif is the BIM Ambassador at Trimble. He is promoting and advocating the application of open standards both within Trimble and in the general market, and participating in developing open standards. Currently, Leif is Trimble's Best Practice Lead for partnerships with standards organizations and represents Trimble in buildingSMART, OGC, ISO, CEN, and others.

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