by Roland Finch
Models are not new! Representations of buildings in model form have been around for centuries. Come to think of it, BIM is not new either. It’s been around ever since the technology was available to ‘simulate’ construction projects using computers.
However, it soon became apparent that a set of ‘rules’ was required to govern, among other things, the relationships between people providing information to feed into the model, the format and structure of that information, the outputs from the model, and crucially the terminology, language and format in which the information is to be presented.
The result was the CIC BIM Protocol. First published in 2013, the introduction to the Protocol declared:
“The primary objective of the Protocol is to enable the production of Building Information Models at defined stages of a project. The Protocol is aligned with Government BIM Strategy, and incorporates provisions which support the production of deliverables for ‘data drops’ at defined project stage”
NBS published a critical analysis at the time, and also hosted several discussions on the topic.
After nearly five years of operation, it was felt necessary to review and revise the Protocol in the light of experience. Some of this was pragmatic – the UK Government imposed deadline for adoption of BIM in some projects had passed, so it makes sense to remove references to it. Some responses were more tricky to deal with; for example, the Protocol contains a precedence clause that puts it in conflict with some ‘standard form’ building contracts.
What’s new in the second edition?
Interestingly, one of the first changes in the 2018 edition is the removal of the definition of the word “model” from the Protocol. The 2013 version defined this as ‘a digital representation of part of the physical and/or functional characteristics of the Project’, although it then went on to discuss a template ‘model letter’, ‘model information delivery table’ and ‘maturity model’, among other things.
The introduction to the 2018 edition describes the Protocol as being closely aligned with PAS 1192–2 which makes a distinction between ‘information’ and ‘models’. It also acknowledges that some of the other terminology has been changed to align more closely with the PAS. The protocol observes that the PAS is concerned with ‘information’ rather than ‘models’ It should be noted, however, that the PAS itself still contains inconsistencies in naming conventions.
With this in mind, clearer explanations are given for terms like Responsibility Matrix (rather than a Model Production and Delivery Table). Information Particulars, Permitted Purpose (which determines how information can be used); Level of Definition (rather than Level of Detail),
There was some criticism that the original wording saw the Protocol taking precedence over the other agreements. However this has been reworded will now only take precedence over the Agreement if there is a conflict in respect of Employer or Team Member’s obligations (clause 3 and 4) and the associated appendices. However, for this to work, the relevant consultancy agreements or building contract will also need amendment. Guidance is included showing how this might be applied to JCT or NEC documents.
Alignment with PAS 1192
There have been further changes to the processes surrounding coordination, standards, common data environments (CDE) and programmes. The intention of these is to better align with PAS 1192.
The wording of those parts of the Protocol regarding copyright has been updated, with the aim of making them more flexible. In the past, Users expressed concern that the rules covering things like intellectual property rights might be in conflict with other contractual arrangements within the team. In addition, the authors claim to have rebalanced the provisions surrounding warranty on interoperability of software.
Since the introduction of PAS 1192-5 (Specification for security-minded building information modelling, digital built environments and smart asset management), Security of information has been high on the agenda. References in the protocol have now been updated to reflect the roles included in the PAS, together with some processes to control them.
Incorporation into Contracts
As with the previous version of the Protocol, the intention is that it should be incorporated into the Construction Contract either as a contract document, or in the case of NEC contracts, as part of the Works information (‘Scope’ in NEC4). The Protocol now contains guidance on how this might be achieved, although it notes that amendment will probably be needed to the contracts themselves, and highlights the issues of precedence, as well as the need to take specialist advice.
There is no specific advice on how the protocol may be incorporated or used alongside a Professional Services agreement used to appoint the design team, but in principle, it is expected that the procedure will be broadly similar.
The 2018 version of the CIC BIM protocol has generally been well received by the industry. It is now better aligned with PAS 1192, and has taken on board many of the responses to its predecessor. It seems to be acceptable to the major contract publishers too, and the CIC umbrella should give it some credibility in the marketplace.
Now it is up to the industry to use it.