Building safety relies on the integrity of product information. Without it, the risks of misguided specification or substitution, poor installation quality, and inadequate classification are high. However, there has never been a rulebook for how manufacturers should present their product information and performance data, leading to inconsistency, ambiguity and, in some instances, the inappropriate specification or substitution of materials on projects. This can and has led to tragic consequences, as the fire at Grenfell Tower showed. To rebuild the confidence in the credibility of our industry and the supply chain, we need to change our processes and create a clear system which advocates a high standard of transparent product information and marketing. This is where the proposed Code for Construction Product Information comes in.
Developed by the Construction Product Association’s (CPA) Marketing Integrity Group (MIG), which is chaired by our CEO Adam Turk, the Code for Construction Product Information will offer a benchmark for how product information is created, presented, and marketed by construction product manufacturers. This will allow everyone involved in specification and procurement to start from a level playing field, ensuring the products they choose are not only appropriate for the job in hand, but have been subject to the appropriate tests and verifications.
Manufacturers who sign up to it agree to abide by its 11 clauses, providing assurances that their product information is:
This means that anyone wanting to use the products can be confident and rely on that information when making decisions at any stage of the construction process, from specification to installation, use and end-of-life.
It is no surprise that we are in full support of the Code and its proposed requirements. Integrity has been a guiding principle of our business for decades, and we have long been committed to ensuring the information we share about our products, processes and services is clear, comprehensive, supported, and useful to our customers. This approach has only been bolstered since Adam joined the business, first as Managing Director and now as CEO, and we are ready for the challenge of stepping up what we do.
Whilst the Code is not set to come into force until later this year, we have already begun to review, formalise and improve our processes in light of its requirement clauses. These fall into 4 key categories relating to the different aspects of construction product information:
The Code states that, from the very beginning, product information should be developed with a clear process and structure for review, sign off, and management throughout its life, including how updates are communicated to all appropriate channels including third parties. This should include checking that the information is not being presented in a misleading or ambiguous way, assessing all language use and imagery for clarity.
For many manufacturers, including us, this is common sense. We have always had a robust process for checking the accuracy and clarity of what we put into the market. However, using the requirements and considerations outlined under each of the clauses, we are working to formalise this, creating clear and shareable information-creation guidelines for the business.
All products should be presented with clear, up-to-date, and accessible information about their performance characteristics. This allows anyone looking to use the data to correctly decide if a product is right for their project and compliant with the standard they need to meet. As detailed in this section’s clauses, this should include details on any test or assessment data, whether connected to a recognised certification or industry standard or not, and a clear description of the product as supplied.
Testing and certification is one of the most important ways we demonstrate our commitment to integrity. We invest heavily in putting all our solutions through comprehensive testing and third-party certification to substantiate performance claims. Details of these tests are readily available on our website, alongside other key pieces of product data. By evaluating what we do against the Code, we hope to strengthen and formalise this approach.
The third section of the Code covers the product information that must be taken into consideration for the whole product lifecycle beyond design and supply. This means manufacturers need to be able to provide clear information on handling, installation, operation, maintenance, and disposal of their products— as well as transparent and comprehensive information about any guarantees or warranties.
We are currently reviewing all product information that falls under this section, assessing where we might fall short of the mark and creating a clear plan to gather and present this information in a Code-compliant way.
Of course, providing product information isn’t just a case of uploading all the information to your website and leaving it there. Technical advice has become a fundamental part of a manufacturer’s offering, whether delivered through a dedicated technical services team, customer services, salespeople, or even marketing. The clauses in this section not only require manufacturers to make technical support easily accessible for those looking for help, but also to make sure those conveying product information are competent and have the level of knowledge necessary for their role and understand where their limitations lie.
At Siderise, we hold the proficiency of our people in very high regard. We have a large technical team who work closely with our customers to find the ideal solutions for their projects. They regularly attend training and are audited to ensure they have the level of knowledge required to do their jobs. We are currently rolling this approach out across all our customer service teams, ensuring everyone in the business has received proper technical training and understands the level of their ability to provide product information, and how to deal with requests beyond their remit.
For both ourselves and the wider supply chain, there is of course much work to be done to make sure we are all providing the right information in ways which are truly useful for the industry. However, with a foundation of integrity, passionate leadership and the Code as our ‘North Star’, we can demonstrate that our product information is trustworthy, and that the buildings they are used on are safe.
The Code is currently undergoing an industry wide consultation, allowing manufacturers, specifiers, and users of information an opportunity to comment on the new Code, the implementation of its 11 Clauses, and its ongoing management and policing. Learn more and have your say at www.buildingsafely.co.uk. The consultation will run until 31st March.