Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Content Link - Lochinvar

Scott Brisk added a link to some new Revit MEP Content on his blog - so of course, I had to add one too:

Got some nice boilers and water heaters up there - check it out?

Tell Scottie thanks -

Later - David B.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Project Structure and Following Process in the Revit Platform

Starting on a new project, I'm coming to realize just how important the structure of the project is, especially if the project is headed for a lifecycle management situation, or even something as simple as coordination.

My first observation is this - all disciplines, consultants, etc. need to set their worksets up exactly the same, from the architect down to the last specialty consultant for fire protection. For example, in a multi-story, mutli-quadrant building, each discipline should make each workset follow the following structure, in order:

- Shared Levels and Grids (default)
- Floor Level
- Level Spanning Building Elements
- Horizontal Work Areas

The first two are pretty easy to follow - even the architectural model should be broken up into level based worksets, to make visibility by level much easier to accomplish. If a wall, curtain wall, column, etc. spans more that one floor, then a workset of the spanning region should be used - and their could be more than just one spanning region of a building.

Horizontal work areas should especially be separated if part of a building is being renovated while another section is new. I'd even venture not to include a renovation area of the building in the same project, but on especially large jobs, breaking the renovation section out to another project, and using shared coordinates to line things up. Some of this passes back to earlier post I have made about the importance of elements being able to connect through linked files, or at least having some level of connection - that's my new favorite wish list item.

I would also consider breaking interior upfits out into a separate project on a core-shell type of job. With file sizes in Revit rapidly approaching breath-taking proportions, breaking up projects into logical horizontal areas just makes more sense.

MEP projects should also be approached the same way - break up objects by level, to make coordination easier. It creates a mess on a job if one department breaks a job up by level and another doesn't - each MEP related area should ALWAYS have identical level- and quadrant- based worksets, breaking down each discipline. Even sub-disciplines, such as low voltage communication, fire alarm, telecom and security systems should have their own level based worksets (and even separate projects in some cases).

WHY? Because when the time comes to build a project, if the Revit model is a deliverable, whether it's for coordinaton or life-cycle management, a well-organized and well-formed project structure makes these tasks much easier for both the contractors and owner. Architects and Engineers - make yourselves aware that the work you do in a BIM world is NOT the same thing as what you produced in the 2D CAD world. You have to think outside of the box, and work as though all players involved are in the same room, on the same team - you don't work in a vacuum. Communicating and following these methods saves all involved time and money.

And one last vent - use Revit correctly - don't skip steps!!! MEP Engineers, you have to create defined systems and circuits, especially in electrical. I could care less if you don't like the panel schedule - that's not the point of BIM. It's every bit as important as the tag you place on your old CAD files. By not placing lights and other power devices on logical circuits, you're forcing the electrical contractor to go back to the "chalk on a rock" method of referring back to paper docs to see how items are circuited - which is insane. Take the time to create panels, assign then distribution systems, and add your lights and other power receiving devices to a circuit. It's not a matter of whether or not the load is correctly being calculated - it's because that when BIM is required deliverable, the EC needs to know quickly what devices belong on what circuit quickly (by selecting or highlighting a device, and pressing the TAB key). This helps with the correct placement of junction and pull boxes, and the routing of conduit and cable tray.

Okay, I'm done - enough soapbox for one night...enjoy the weekend!

David B.

Monday, January 4, 2010

In case you haven't heard - Content Extensions for ACAD MEP and Revit MEP!

If you are on subscription, Autodesk released a couple of content updates - one for Revit MEP 2010 and one for AutoCAD MEP 2010 - last month. To download these, log into your subscription center site ( and browse to the Product Add-ons Section - you can choose to download either file (both are ZIP exe files, so make sure your firewall allows the download of executables). Run the EXE by double clicking it.

The RMEP file is 27mb and adds electrical content for low-voltage systems; the ACAD MEP file is 110mb, and includes "300 new pipe fittings to help mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) professionals create pipe design models and drawings for projects in the United States", which includes Cast Iron (Bell and Spigot, Hubless), Ductile Iron (Flanged, Mechanical Joint, Push On), HDPE (Fusion), Plastic (Hub) and Steel (Grooved).

There is also a Revit Structural Library download as well, for guys that hold the buildings up...

Later - David B.

Back to the Grind - January Tips!!!

Came across a few good ones over the last couple of months, and I can't say all of these were my ideas, but damn I think they were cool ideas...

Bottom of Pipe Elevations

RMEP 2010 doesn't have an "out-of-the-box" tag that reads the bottom of pipe elevation, but a suggestion I found was in the AUGI discussion groups. On the annotate tab > dimension panel, pick the spot elevation tool - under the type selector, I chose the No Symbol(Relative) option, which sets the elevation from the current level.

For display elevations, you can choose between actual selected elevation, top, bottom or both. I chose the bottom elevation option, and the spot elevation was placed. Once the elevation tag is placed, you can go back to the element properties of the tag (you can also adjust this when placing the tag). Edit the type properties - at the bottom of the dialog, you can add an "elevation indicator" string of text (such as BOP:) that acts as the prefix or suffix text. You can also adjust the text formating, size, etc. as needed to match your drawing standards.

The nice thing about this symbol is that it works with sloped pipe to show the actual invert elevation at that point - which is extremely helpful when checking elevations for coordination.

Grouping Disconnected Pipe Elements

In our Revit MEP courseware, we discuss how the system name for a piping system can be used as a filter to control how piping appears in a view (for example, name a domestic cold water system in a bathroom beginning with "DCW-" followed by the room name or number - then create a filter for pipe, fittings and accessories that looks for a system name that begins with DCW- ). But there's going to be times when certain pipe systems will not be connected or defined to a system - for example, roof drain leaders or sanitary vent.

One of our clients had an interesting solution - they created a instance based project parameter that applied to the same elements (pipe, fittings and accessories), and then edited the parameter for these components. To do this, start by selecting Project Parameters from the Manage tab. Choose Add, and then add the project parameter with the following settings:

- Name: DisconnectedPipeSystem
- Discipline: Common
- Type of Parameter: Text
- Group Parameter Under: (Other)
- Choose Instance
For categories, select Pipe, Pipe Fittings and Pipe Accessories:

Select OK to continue. Next, choose the pipes, fitting and accessories you want to edit. Under the type properties, edit the parameter value using an abbrevation that can be read by a filter (i.e. DSV for disconnected Sanitary Vent). Next, create a filter that is specific to pipe, fittings and accessories, and use the new parameter to control the filter.

While this takes a little manual editing, it gives the user more flexibility with the appearance of the piping.

Adding Subcategories for Extended Visibility Graphics Control

Came up with this one at AU right before my last class - a couple of us where talking about different approaches to controlling the visibility of mechanical equipment. Since this category relates to all types of equipment, including pumps, AHU's VAV's and more, we added subcategories under mechanical equipment for each item the user wanted to have appear differently in their views:

Next, they opened their most commonly used families and added the subcategory to each family, editing the value to match the name in the project. They assigned the category by selecting the solids, and then edited the element properties of the object to match the desired category (note - a quick way to do this after opening the family is to use Transfer Project Standards from the Manage tab to copy the object style settings from the project to the family).

Once the settings for subcategory have been edited, load the family into the project, making sure you overwrite parameters as part of the load. The user can now edit the view properties to allow for different colors, lineweights, etc. as needed, and store the view settings as a view template.

This is pretty much all can think of in the post New Year' s "back to work" mode - if you've got any other suggestions in regards to these items, let me know.

Happy BIMM'ing!

David B.