BIM protocols – Do you need to revise your working practices?


So you have accepted that it’s a good idea to work in line with the BIM protocols, however are you prepared to change your working practices?

As you are probably aware now, BIM is about a number of things, including 3D modelling, 4D schedule simulation, 5D cost estimation and 6D asset management.

However, a very important part of BIM is collaboration and the “single source of truth”.

Single source of truth

To explain, everybody within the project team, including the client and any sub-consultants need to be using exactly the same data.

You may think you already do this, but you may be innocently working in a silo.

Do you produce your models and drawings on your own servers and then upload them to a collaboration site?

If you do you are already missing the single source of truth – you will definitely have different versions on your server compared to the ones on the collaboration site.

Also, if you have another consultant working on your project doing something like drainage design, traffic signals design, structural design etc I’ll bet they are working from their own servers and then uploading their work to the collaboration site.

So what version is on the collaboration site and what version is on their servers?

Do you work on your computer’s hard drive or C drive?

If you do you have same problem as the consultants.

The answer is for everybody to work on a sophisticated file collaboration site such as Bentley Projectwise, which can handle all files including documents and model files. Projectwise checks out files to the user and locks the checked-out files so that nobody else can access them until they are checked in – so a real single source of truth.

Other file collaboration systems are available, however I don’t have much experience of them so I can’t comment on them.

3D modelling

If you are already producing 3D models you probably think you are doing okay, however you also need to think about the further BIM processes such as 4D, 5D and 6D.

Does your software allow you to attach intelligent data to elements in your model or can you create IFCs from your model, allowing you to transfer your model to another software package which will allow you to attribute the elements?

If it doesn’t then your software package isn’t really suitable for the whole BIM process and you need to think about changing your software package.

4D schedule simulation

4D schedule simulation is invaluable as tool for seeing what is being built at any particular time on your programme. It also shows if you have missed any work activities from your programme and it will highlight any clashes between built work and elements still to be built.

So – your 3D model needs to be capable of being used by good 4D software such as Synchro.

With any 4D scheduling software you need to be able to associate an element in your model with a work activity on your programme.

If you don’t have suitable elements in your 3d model and you only have 3D lines then you can’t do 4D schedule simulation from your model.

5D cost estimation

5D cost estimation is about being able to extract usable information from the elements in your 3D model which you can export to a spreadsheet, allowing you to instantly calculate the costs of the elements in your project.

Again, if you don’t have elements in your model and you only have 3D lines then you won’t be able to do this.

Also, if your software isn’t capable of exporting the data from your 3D model then it isn’t BIM compliant.


To summarise, think about all of the BIM processes before you start working


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