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Manufacturers must embrace digitisation to ensure safer construction industry

11 October 2021

Manufacturers of construction products will need to start sharing their data digitally to support a safer and sustainable construction industry, a new guide released by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) explains.

(Shutterstock image)
(Shutterstock image)

Regulation is coming post-Grenfell and digital transparency will be key for manufacturers within the industry. The IET’s Digitisation for construction product manufacturers guide sets out a simple process to implement internal digitisation. 

It has been produced to help decision-makers in manufacturing identify why supplying structured data is important; how to avoid poor investment decisions; how to set priorities and implement information management; and safe ways to share this information about products across the supply chain.

In an endorsement to the guide and in support of the digitisation of the sector, Dame Judith Hackitt, a government adviser on the new Building Safety Regulator, said: “It will be a really positive contribution in helping people to understand what digitalisation means for construction products.”

Rick Hartwig, IET Built Environment Lead, said: “As we embrace a digital future, it’s putting pressure on the manufacturing industry to act. Manufacturers produce a significant part of the information required for safer construction industry, but currently, this information isn’t structured or shared in a consistent way.

“If the UK construction industry is to meet the challenges of a digital future and respond to the requirements of a new building safety regulatory system, it needs manufacturers to structure and share their data safely and sustainably.

“This new plain language guide will help the industry embrace digitisation.  It is only through this digital transparency that industry and society can differentiate between compliant and non-compliant manufacturers. Making structured information available to the supply chain is an essential step in this process.”

The benefits given in the report go beyond compliance to include commercial advantages such as increased revenue and margins, brand improvement and a smoother sales pipeline that comes from structured product data.

There are also recommendations given to the UK Government, with Rick adding: “With a strong record of digitisation and the commitment to a digital economy, the UK Government is in an ideal position to take the lead in encouraging manufacturers to digitise.”

The guide has already been welcomed by the industry. James Talman, CEO of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors commented: “We welcome this guide as it will help companies to navigate through the minefield of information and systems out there on product data.

Ultimately this will help get data to work efficiently and effectively for both suppliers and specifiers. We also support the central role the guide places on Trade Associations in leading an open digital culture.”

As well as the guide, the IET has set up a blog and LinkedIn group which invites members of the manufacturing and construction industry to join and share views about the guide and topics related to it.

Digitisation for construction product manufacturers: a plain language guide, as well as an eight-page summary and a two-page digest, can be downloaded from the IET’s website.


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