Front: Margaret Fitzsimons (EDA CEO) and John Newcomb (BMF CEO), Back: Chris Gibson (EDA President) and TIm Rowbottom (BMF Board Member)

BMF joins digitalisation initiative

Published:  03 December, 2019

The BMF has partnered with the Electrical Distributors’ Association (EDA) to develop and implement the ETIM open source data model for the standardisation and classification of product data in the UK.

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.

One of the key benefits of ETIM is that it removes ambiguity and ensures that all users of the product data are using the same terms to describe the same attributes and values. It streamlines the transfer of information, removes inefficiency in the supply chain and facilitates the transition to online trading.

ETIM is a tried and tested model that has been adopted by manufacturers and wholesalers in 20 countries across Europe and by the USA and Canada. Initially designed for the electro-technical market, ETIM has expanded to include general building materials and heating, ventilation and plumbing products. It has now developed further to include a 3-D modelling version to provide digitalised data for BIM applications.

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.

The BMF will begin the process of implementation from January 2020. David Bate, who performed a similar role for EDA, has been appointed BMF’s ETIM-UK Project Manager. He will lead a number of ETIM Standardisation Working Groups, drawing together expertise from BMF members involved in different product areas, and drive the UK roll-out of the ETIM Classification model for building materials and HVAC through the UK supply chain, comprising manufacturers, merchants, specifiers, contractors and installers.

BMF CEO John Newcomb said: “A straw-poll of our merchant members found that 53% have difficulty in obtaining product data from their suppliers in an easily usable format, and 94% would value readily available and accurate product data.

“With a growing number already doing business online and 65% planning to launch or increase sales from online platforms during the next two years the need for high quality, consistent and updatable digital data is set to escalate. Supporting the introduction of ETIM within our sector fits well with the BMF’s mission to help members build excellence within their business.”

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.”

Organisations wanting to be involved in one of the working groups are invited to get in touch with the BMF.

> Find out more about ETIM UK

Picture:
Front: Margaret Fitzsimons (EDA CEO) and John Newcomb (BMF CEO), Back: Chris Gibson (EDA President) and TIm Rowbottom (BMF Board Member)

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