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Delivering handover documentation more efficiently using API’s.

The pressure to efficiently deliver accurate handover documentation is greater than ever in the wake of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire which highlighted the importance of developing and maintaining a ‘golden thread’ . The Bill requires duty holders to maintain complete and comprehensive records and documentation in digital format for higher-risk buildings. This body of documentation and information is known as the ‘golden thread’.

It was recommended that all parties use secure digital repositories for their data relating to construction projects and their facilities. With these digital repositories often comes an application programming interface (API).

Dr Jamie Dupée from Edocuments Ltd explains more…

So, what is an API?

An API or application programming interface is a way for two or more computer programs to communicate with each other. It is a type of software interface that allows for the two computer programs to trigger functions and procedures allowing the creation of applications that access the features or data.

Why use API’s?

This automation can save large amounts of time when managing large volumes of files and data. API’s are not limited to moving files, they typically can update and create data, and often execute functions and processes in the software. API’s can be used to pull data from multiple software applications into a single dashboard to make management simpler and show data insights.

Many of the software tools used every day such as Microsoft 365, SharePoint, Autodesk construction cloud (ACC), Revit, BIM360, as well as many of the common data environments (CDE) all have this API functionality.

How can handover documentation benefit from API’s

Handover documentation can benefit in various ways. The simplest example, a rule could be created where a set of construction drawings automatically be moved or copied from CDE-1 to CDE-2 based on the status of drawings changing to “final issue” OR construction record “CR” etc.

Case study: An example of delivering efficiency using API’s

Edocuments Ltd who specialise in the production of digital operation and maintenance documentation and use API’s extensively in their production processes. One example of this, Edocuments can dynamically build a set of digital O&M’s by using an ACC REVIT API or IFC to pull the assets and components out of the 3D model, and automatically build the skeleton of a highly structured O&M document. As the project continues, Edocuments can sync the changes in the data between the original BIM models and the digital O&M, providing considerable time savings and accuracy gains.

Another Edocuments Ltd example is construction projects use many CDE’s often one CDE for the designer stage and another CDE for the construction stage (principal contractor) and often another CDE for the facility owner (end user client). In this example when trying to apply a BIM process data workflow such BS1192 or IS19650 manually moving data from one CDE to the next is a time-consuming operation, that often results in errors. Edocuments connectors and API’s offer a solution to automate this process, where sophisticated rules can be set up to monitor the classifications and status of data in each of the many CDE’s. Such as when reviews and approvals have been completed and passed. The result is that automatically data and files are flowing between the many CDE’s and the digital O&M’s.

Is there a downside to API’s?

The downside of API’s is they all tend to work slightly differently, so there is the learning curve of how they operate and what functionality they offer. Another downside being that you are likely to require a software developer or small team with skills to implement them. The quality of the documentation for implementing API’s can vary greatly from one software provider to the next. When a new version of the API is released, you may have to update your application that uses it.

But what about the golden thread and API’s

An ideal solution for the CDE’s or any secure digital repositories and golden thread would be a security model that enables appropriate people throughout the facility / assets lifecycle to upload and associatively store models, data, documents. This would allow the accountable person and Building Safety Regulator (BSR) to easily review them. The benefit of an API here could allow the BSR to directly connect to the asset data.

So, what’s next?

In an industry where data is highly fragmented and where the same data exists in many software platforms API’s provide part of the answer for the ongoing management. Going beyond automating the management is then looking at the quality of the data, the validation and the accuracy of the data, API’s can help here too.

Implementing API’s is clearly a good investment for automating many of the manual tasks, and ultimately improving the accuracy of data for your facilities.