Product Data Templates - a commentary

For introductory videos, more detailed explanations and how to practically use the templates directly in your BIM tools see the technical Product Data Template page

Want to get involved in developing the PDTs for your product area? See Developing PDTs

Level 2 BIM - Isn't it too complicated to ever catch on?

Not so. Level 2 BIM is with us now and a lot of people are using it. Products featured in Level 2 models are described not only by their 3-D geometry BUT ALSO accompanying data. It is the addition of data that differentiates Level 2!

But, isn't it best to wait a bit and see what happens?

Certainly there has been no consensus on the scope and content of product data files in BIM. Supply chain leaders often only ask for ‘headline' performance information - which is easy to provide on a job by job basis. But by 2016 headline data are certainly not going to satisfy the government client. Its digital ‘questionnaire', COBie UK 2012, demands a lot more. And, as the public sector provides 40% of supply chain's work, so too will its leaders! Other players using BIM models also want more than ‘headlines' answered!

But COBie will put us out of business! Won't Government stop it?

No. Government's construction strategy relies on Level 2 BIM. COBie is fundamental to the strategy. Government expects the industry to deliver it!

What's needed?

Half of COBie's data fields are ‘project specific' - but the remainder are ‘product-specific' and can attach to the same product on all kinds of project everywhere BIM is used. Manufacturers that offer both product geometry AND product-specific data will save time and effort of other players involved in BIM modelling - and thus enhance their product's appeal! But if data for each product type are formatted identically and scoped to serve all model-users on all types of job, then manufacturers would only need to prepare their product data once to serve every BIM player and project.

The answer - Product Data Templates!

Conceived by the CIBSE BIM Group, PRODUCT DATA TEMPLATES (PDTs) may be the answer! PDTs are standard product ‘questionnaires', one for each equipment type, that manufacturers only complete once for each of their products, to serve the needs of all people, projects and purposes. Written in simple Excel format, PDTs are usable with all BIM platforms. So the Betamax /VHS debate is irrelevant. And the need to grapple with multiple platforms disappears.

PDTs explained

All PDTs follow a standard format. Their first column comprises 3 categories of information:

  • Specification;
  • Sustainability
  • Facilities / Asset Management

The second column sets out the parameters that must be answered by the manufacturer for each product using the units shown in the third column. The fourth column is for prompts and explanations.

A PDT Master template example is on the CIBSE web site (scroll down on the linked page to 'More about PDTs').

PDTs include all general product specific questions in COBie UK 2012 - so much of the COBie spreadsheet can be populated automatically once a product has been selected. PDTs also ask further questions which others using a BIM model need answering. Because PDTs are standardised, data operations can be automated allowing each party to abstract only the information it wants from the BIM model!

The CIBSE BIM Group has prepared a short video explaining how PDTs fit into the bigger picture

A number of PDTs have been prepared so far by the CIBSE BIM PDT Group and are available through the CIBSE website. More than 190 PDTs will be needed to cover most commonly used products in the MEP industry. Those PDTs that are ready for trial and use already are shown in a list on the linked PDT page (see the menu on the left hand side)

What are the risks of involving with PDTs?

PDTs rely on cross industry uptake in UK, involving many players - so their future depends on wide buy in. PDTs are a UK response to Level 2 BIM. While they seem to align with the aims of the upcoming ISO standard, final compliance is not assured. Both the parameters and units used in the example PDTs must align with classification standards that are not yet finalised. So amendments must be anticipated. PDTs are UK biased. They don't deal with international variances in parameter names or units.

Terms of Use for PDTs

1. The concept of PDTs and the PDT samples belong to their authors and are CIBSE copyright

2. CIBSE permits you to download and copy the PDTs for trials and other uses, on the conditions that:

a. You must replicate CIBSEs logo and acknowledge its copyright in the PDT format in all your uses.

b. No liability for your (or any) use of the PDTs attaches to CIBSE or any involved in developing, preparing, testing or other activity connected with them.

c. You will not amend or alter them in any way or circumstance [The sole purpose of PDTs is to create one cross-industry standard for product data. So other versions are NOT permissible.]

d. You will advise CIBSE directly or through the email link on BIMtalk of any amendments, enhancements or corrections you propose to the PDTs and set out your reason(s).

e. CIBSE's decision on whether (and when) to incorporate your proposals will be final.

f. You will not be acknowledged for any amendment you propose that is incorporated into later versions of the PDTs.