You are here

Structured information

as a basis for digital data exchange


An article by Zafer Aytekin, Project Manager for Development CRB.

In order for product data to be compared and exchanged, it must be uniformly structured in terms of content and form. CRB wants to standardize the necessary development process in cooperation with market participants.

By providing structured product information, a paperless and automated flow of information from and to all those involved in a construction project is possible, thus fulfilling a fundamental requirement of the “BIM method”. When agreed upon guidelines for the structuring of data are met, standardization is needed. The requirements of “openBIM” are only attained through this standardization.

In addition to the technical requirements for a standardized form, the content must also be professionally developed. This includes superordinate obligatory product details, which are tied to statutory national and international requirements such as EU directives and Swiss standards, for example, the Construction Products Act (Bauproduktegesetz BauPG). There is also user-specific product data, which is of interest to the project participants. All the requirements mentioned must be standardized in terms of content in such a way that they correspond to a minimum of general validity and thereby ensure a defined quality standard.

The result is a standardized structure template, the product data template (PDT). A product data template is a generic (general, non-specific) template for a product. If these templates are supplemented with manufacturer-specific information, the so-called product data sheets (PDS) are created.

Standardized structural template

Up to now, product information was primarily prepared and provided in various formats in a company-specific manner, that is, with its own structure and terminology. As a result, product comparisons were only possible to a limited extent or not at all and the exchange of data was a complicated effort. Sometimes, product data is also collected in formats that do not allow further technical processing, such as in the form of PDF files, Excel spreadsheets or Word documents.

A standardized development process is required in order to standardize the numerous technical requirements for structured product data, which still have not been fully defined in terms of content. CRB has set itself the goal of developing this standardized process throughout Switzerland in close cooperation and coordination with relevant market participants. This process should not only determine and guarantee the content quality of product data but also lead to uniform structural templates for product data.

In cooperation with notable Swiss manufacturers, some product data has already been exemplarily digitized in recent months. After having analyzed and assessed the necessary working steps, those responsible for the project have begun to draw up the standardization process for the creation of PDS in Switzerland.

The Swiss Center for Construction Rationalization CRB has been providing services to construction professionals for almost 60 years. CRB develops and distributes work equipment for rational, legally-sound service descriptions, for efficient and transparent cost management and a better understanding between developers, planners, contractors and suppliers. The Natural Color System NCS is exclusively available in Switzerland from CRB.




Three questions for Dr. Thomas Schmidt

Why do you choose to work together with CRB?
Many of our Swiss products refer to the NPK standard items catalog. It is important to understand the overall picture and consider the construction process as a whole. CRB is a well-known institution in the field of construction planning and quantity determination and is therefore an essential partner for us in digital planning.

What are your next steps in this context?
We will communicate about and learn from each other in the areas of materialization and system solutions. We are currently working on an integrated solution to meet the requirements along the value chain and for the analysis of construction data.

To what extent do small architectural or engineering firms also benefit from this development?
The planning processes have become more transparent and efficient. This also offers smaller offices the opportunity to position themselves accordingly. In particular, the study of variants with the developer – before the actual construction begins – will gain in importance.

Dr. Thomas Schmidt is Key Account Manager at Holcim (Schweiz) AG.