The CIC issued a BIM Protocol in February 2013 (CIC/BIM Pro). It is available here. In drafting the Protocol, the CIC approach was:

  • to make the minimum changes necessary to the pre-existing contractual arrangements in construction projects 
  • to ensure there is an obligation on parties to provide defined elements of their work/services in the form of models
  • that the Protocol is a contractual document which takes precedence over existing agreements
  • that the Protocol is flexible and suitable for use on all Level 2 BIM projects.

The Protocol is intended to be incorporated into direct appointments between the employer and project team.  It is then for each party to pass the Protocol down the supply chain.  The guidance to the Protocol includes a Model Enabling Amendment.  It is very simplistic, simply providing for the Protocol to be a Contract Document and requiring the Employer and Contractor to comply with their obligations in the Protocol, have the benefit of rights granted to them in the Protocol and have the benefit of any limitations or exclusions of their liability contained in the Protocol.  It is noted that specific amendments required to incorporate the Protocol will need to be considered on a contract by contract basis.

Whilst the Model Amendment refers to the Employer and Contractor, it will also be necessary to incorporate the Protocol into designers' appointments and, similarly, to consider any necessary amendment to the terms of the appointment to facilitate that and make it operate correctly, for example where terminology is not consistent or where there are conflicting or additional obligations in the Protocol. 

One important area where this could arise is the Information Management Role which is to be undertaken by the Information Manager.  The role includes the establishment and maintenance of the processes, protocols and procedures set out in the Information Requirements.  The Information Requirements set out the way the Models are to be produced, delivered and used on the Project, including any processes, protocols and procedures referred to.

It is not stated who should undertake this role but there will be a need to align the duties of this role with those in the contract or appointment of the party appointed to the role and also to negotiate any alteration to the fee or price as a result. It would also make sense for the party undertaking the role to advise their insurers to ensure that work carried out is covered.

The Protocol itself consists of a main Protocol document plus two Appendices. It contains provisions for:

  • priority of contract documents – in the event of a conflict between the Protocol and other contract documents, the terms of the Protocol prevail.  Further, the Model is given priority over any document or information extracted from it.
  • obligations of the employer – these include ensuring that the Protocol is incorporated into the contracts of all project team members, reviewing and updating Information Requirements and the Model Production and Delivery Table and ensuring there is, at all times, someone performing the role of Information Manager.
  • obligations of project team member – these include producing the specified models at the Level of Detail specified in the Model Production and Delivery Table, delivering the models at the stage specified and in accordance with Information Requirements, using the models in accordance with any procedures for this in the Information Requirements, complying with the Information Requirements and arranging for the Protocol to be incorporated into subcontracts.
  • electronic data exchange – there is no warranty of the integrity of the electronic data delivered and no liability for corruption of data or any unintended amendment, modification or alteration of data after transmission unless as a result of failure to comply with the Protocol.
  • use of models – this includes provisions such as the rights over the material remaining vested in the project team member producing it, the employer is granted a licence to transmit, copy and use the material for the Permitted Purpose (defined as a purpose related to the project consistent with the  Level of Detail of the model and the purpose for which it was prepared) and the licence does not include the right to amend or modify the material without the project  team member's consent, except in specified circumstances.
  • liability in respect of a model – the project team member does not have liability to the employer arising out of modification or amendment to or any transmission, copying or use of the material by the employer, other project team member or third party. Similarly, the employer has no liability to the project team member arising out of modification or amendment to or any transmission, copying or use of the models by the employer
  • termination – the Protocol survives termination of the project team member's employment.

Appendix 1 is the Levels of Detail and Model Production and Delivery Table. This sets out what models are to be developed, to what level of detail, at what stage and by whom. The Levels of Detail are defined in PAS1192-2. The stage definitions are the APM (Association of Project Managers) Project Stages.  A Specimen Table is included.

Appendix 2 is the Information Requirements.  This contains project specific information on the standards to apply, the parties, the Employer's Information Requirements and Project Procedures. 

The Employer's Information Requirements include details of what is to be the Common Data Environment, what software is to be used, who is to deliver the models and in what file formats, file naming and numbering, use of symbols, abbreviations, zoning requirements and data drops.

The Project Procedures include matters such as the Spatial Coordination protocol, model approval/information exchange protocol, archiving procedures, security requirements and access rights procedures and how to deal with resolution of any conflicts between information extracted from a Model and the Model itself.

The Protocol also includes a framework of generic Information Requirements as an example.

Comments

In a BIM environment, it will be essential for there to be a Protocol, common to all parties to the Project and with which all parties are required to comply.  In the UK, the CIC is the front-runner for adoption and it is understood it is likely to be adopted by the UK government for their projects.

It deals with the key issues required of a BIM Protocol but does require a high amount of project specific information to be added.  To some extent this is "administrative" information such as the Information Requirements and it is likely that, in time, some of these will develop into market norms.  There is certainly a move towards this in PAS-1192-2 and through the standard database format of COBie.  However, even if classed as "administrative" this will be an important requirement on BIM projects to ensure that the model (consisting of both the graphic 2D/3D info but also the non-graphic technical information which sits behind this) is able to be used to its full potential and to ensure all parties have a common understanding of what it contains.  Similar considerations arise with Project Procedures.  Thought will need to be given to the development of these but it is likely that market standards will emerge. 

The aspect which will always be project specific is the Level of Detail and Model Production and Delivery Table.  Completion of this in an appropriate way will be an essential element of the Protocol.