An idea of a Building Products Library

How can the New Zealand building industry, set up – and get real value from – an online library of trusted information on building products? What particular types of such information are needed by designers, builders, property owners, regulators and other stakeholders?

How can it be easily stored in an industry repository, and readily accessible for many use cases ranging from a builder re-ordering the right product by smart phone to an emergency service provider urgently needing information to deal with a hazardous substance?

GS1 is engaged with the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) on an industry-funded research project to answer these and related questions. The findings are destined to inform the design, implementation and operation of a product library/digital catalogue which truly fits the needs and capabilities of the New Zealand industry.

The concept has been much discussed within government agencies and industry forums: Now, the GS1-NZIER research will answer many detailed questions for actually building and using a catalogue of real value to individuals and businesses when it comes to: selecting the right building products; providing assurance on product performance and safety; and understanding the likely social and environmental outcomes.

All parties agree a catalogue will hold trusted, globally-standardised product master data, some of which is already uploaded by manufacturers and merchants into GS1’s National Product Catalogue. Generally, master product data includes the precise identification of products and their technical specifications. For the building industry, it will also need to meet information needs around product testing and quality assurance, safety issues in the use and application of products, and more. The research will identify such needs and the relevant globally standard data sets which currently exist or which need to be created over time.

The research will also look at the digital system requirements for designers, builders and all others to have ready access to information in the library. This will encompass the use of smartphones and other mobile digital devices. In concept, the digital catalogue will be developed with an API (Public Application Programme) to facilitate free public access.

The GS1-NZIER project is funded by BRANZ (Building Research Association of New Zealand) through the Building Research Levy on all industry participants. Its report will be available in mid 2020.