The AEC (UK) BIM Protocols v2.0 is aimed at all designers who are, or looking to, work with Building Information Modelling in a consistent and coordinated approach. In and of itself, the AEC (UK) BIM Protocol is not a standard. It is, for want of a better description, an implementation guide to deploying official British Standards in a BIM scenario. It looks at the configuration of BIM authoring software, specifically Autodesk Revit and Bentley’s ABD (although there are ArchiCAD and Vectorworks versions planned among others) rationalising the structure of Building Information Models and the data exchange processes to adhere to those standards.

Version 2.0 of the AEC (UK) BIM Protocol is a unification of the guidance provided by the previous documents: the AEC (UK) BIM Standard for Autodesk Revit and the AEC (UK) BIM Standard for Bentley Building. It brings the two workflows together as a single generic document which can be applied to any BIM-enabled project. Detail of how each software package relates to these principles is then provided in the software-specific supplements.

A diagram showing the relationship of the supplements to the main document. The blue shapes represent the complete package for a company using Revit.

The terminology is explained further in the supplements, applying concepts from the main document using a language familiar to users of that software. You’ll see “Families” referred to in the Revit document, and “DataGroups” in the AECOsim Building Designer (ABD) one. All documents are laid out in exactly the same order, with identical clear headings so that relating each section – and comparing the differences between each application – couldn’t be easier.

After the introductions in Section 1, Section 2 gives a brief overview of best practice, outlining the basic principles of BIM Project Execution Plans, coordination meetings and approaches to modelling. Nothing here is anything other than common sense, but it helps to have things written down in black & white. The Protocol also relates the concepts back to British Standard documents at this point.

Section 3 delves into the BIM Project Execution Plan in more detail. This document should exist on all BIM projects as it defines “how the modelling aspect of the project is to be carried out and how the model and data are formatted.” Along with the Protocol, a template BxP and guide can be downloaded. Of course these may not contain everything required for you project, but they are a useful starting point and contain the minimum expected on BIM projects as outlined in this section.

Section 4 looks at a practical approach to the BS1192 “Common Data Environment”. This is a process, which if followed can lead to much more efficient working methods, and in particular ensures checks, approvals and verification of data are carried out. The AEC (UK) BIM Protocol explains the somewhat difficult wording of BS1192 in a more practical manner, explaining how each stage of the WIP, Shared, Published and Archive areas relate to a day-to-day exchange of BIM models and data. It does not aim to provide “hard” standards to replace any existing conventions your company may already use. It does not, for example, recommend drastically altering folder structures which form part of your mature processes without due consideration of whether your existing systems adhere to the methods of data exchange specified by BS1192. You do not need a folder named “WIP” to have a series of work in progress models, or a folder named “Shared” to be compliant with the approval and verification processes for sharing data. Instead it applies the workflow to a BIM authoring environment, listing publication checks, including stripping out unapproved or unnecessary objects, compressing/auditing files and detaching unwanted references.

The next few sections are where the main advice is given for software-based BIM development. Beginning with identifying the intended use of the model – always a crucial requirement for successful BIM – then providing advice for splitting up the model into manageable portions, and how to handle different levels of detail, the Protocol maintains a consistent approach regardless of what software is being used. Especially relevant are the sections on working across multiple disciplines without losing control of model ownership, the importance of defining the model’s coordinate location, inclusion of metadata, and the integration of the model with additional smaller scale CAD details.

Folder structures, file naming, and object naming is dealt with in Section 8. Not only does the AEC (UK) BIM Protocol provide a practical implementation of BS1192 & BS8541’s sub-model and object naming conventions, it expands them where necessary for more modern ways of working. For example, the “Role” codes are expanded to include typical disciplines, such as Bridge, Railway, Water, Acoustic and Environmental engineers, missing from BS1192, or rather grouped into a single “specialist” code. There are examples provided with full descriptions to help explain the principles in a straightforward manner. The object naming convention provides a clear, yet flexible, approach, allowing easy identification of all objects regardless of format, dimension, and level of modelling or data detail.

Finally Sections 9 and 10 look at technical considerations of presentation of BIM data (drawing borders, line weights, text styles, etc) and the practical BIM Management organisation of these resources on an office server.

Overall, the AEC (UK) BIM Protocol v2.0 is a highly recommended starting point for those without a proven BIM methodology or, for those who have, it provides invaluable best practice approaches validated by many renowned design firms. Despite being aimed at the UK market, it has been adopted by many more companies beyond the UK’s borders, providing a cohesive open dialog between Canadian, Australian and New Zealand BIM protocols to name but a few. With the release of the software-specific supplements, the AEC (UK) BIM Protocol intends to deliver a common implementation of BIM working methods throughout the architectural, engineering and construction industry.

For more details, and to download the latest version when it is published, visit aec-uk.org.

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