The drive towards digitalisation and improved B2B product data across the UK’s construction sector has received a boost thanks to a new agreement between two leading trade associations, the Electrical Distributors’ Association (EDA) and the Builders Merchants’ Federation (BMF). ETIM, the open source data model for the standardisation and classification of technical product data, was introduced to UK’s electro-technical sector back in 2017 by the EDA. Now the BMF will start work on its expansion into two further sectors: HVAC & Sanitary and Building Materials.

EDA and BMF as sector leads

Thus far, the EDA has been the official representative of the ETIM model in the UK and the ‘National Organisation’ for ETIM International. In January, a new legal entity will be created, called ETIM UK Ltd. This independent organisation will champion the development and implementation of the ETIM data model in this country, with EDA and BMF leading in their respective sectors. ETIM UK Ltd, a not-for-profit business, will provide sector-neutral management of the maintenance, development and promotion of the data model. ETIM UK Ltd is one of 22 National Organisations who are members of the ETIM International governing body.

The partnership agreement was signed by EDA and BMF CEOs, Margaret Fitzsimons and John Newcomb, at the recent ETIM UK 1st Digitalisation Forum, in the presence of Board-level members from both associations and the ETIM International Board.

Good data: the golden thread of commerce

Above: EDA’s CEO, Margaret Fitszimons, with ETIM International President, Jan Janse, and Chris Gibson, EDA President

Margaret Fitzsimons, CEO at the EDA said

“Everyone agrees that we have to digitalise our businesses. But to digitalise our businesses we have to digitise our data. We cannot escape that fact. High quality, unambiguous, consistent, and complete – good data is the golden thread of commerce.

“Since the EDA took the strategic decision to introduce the ETIM data model to the UK’s electro-technical sector in March 2017, there has been a huge EDA-led effort to review and Anglicise over 100,000 pieces of ETIM-ready data. This substantial progress, although there is more to do, has created a pool of expertise which, via this new agreement, the EDA is delighted to share with the BMF to help jumpstart the ETIM journey for their members.

“This is a significant step forward as the BMF is such an important organisation with a big reach. In addition, the products in this sector require digitalised data for BIM applications – and ETIM can be a big advantage here.”

BMF to benefit from EDA’s track record on ETIM

John Newcomb, CEO at the BMF added:

“The BMF represents over 700 businesses from both sides of the product supply chain and each one has an important role in creating and maintaining UK’s built environment. For them, technical product data is a vital e-commerce and BIM resource but with huge potential for improvement in standardising the presentation of that content and simplifying the transfer of information between manufacturer and merchant. The EDA has been a trailblazer for the ETIM data model in the UK and now, thanks to this strategic partnership, the wider construction sector can benefit too with the BMF at the heart of that transformation.

“Work will start in earnest in January 2020. While there will be an initial steep learning curve for the BMF team, the EDA’s ETIM track record is a hugely valuable resource and we will follow a similar process to roll out the data model within our sector.”

Above: BMF’s CEO John Newcomb (r) with Jan Janse, President of ETIM International, with their certificates confirming their Sector Lead status for HVAC & Sanitary and Building Materials

Richard Appleton, General Manager of EDA Data Services will work with electro-technical manufacturers and wholesalers to continue the march towards fully ETIMised data, whilst for the BMF’s ETIM-UK Project Manager, David Bate will work with the HVAC & Sanitary and Building Materials businesses.

The ETIM data model is used in 22 countries across the globe after starting life in the Netherlands in 1991. The model enables standardisation and classification of the technical features of any product.