It's that time of the year...spring is in the air, the mackerel are starting to run, pollen...and Autodesk is ready to start releasing their 2012 product line. Today the product embargo is lifted, so I can offer my early impressions of this release...It's been an interesting progression from the BIM standpoint over the last few years. Revit MEP has been turned on like a light switch - 2010, we were still in the dark, but 2011 started connecting the circuits and turning on the lights. Now it's time to add more to the panel...and load that puppy up.
First up - we worked with Autodesk to create the 2012 Revit MEP dataset for the Audubon Center, in Ohio. Designed a few years ago by Heapy Engineering, this design demonstrated several different ways to create a more efficient structure, and gave us a great opportunity to demonstrate how the project might look if it had been created in Revit MEP. So, in conjunction with Autodesk, we converted the model to Revit MEP, using the original AutoCAD MEP model and construction documents to create the HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems for the project. So - if you don't like the model, blame me - but if you do like, note that a lot of the things I've talked about in our AU classes are embedded in this dataset. The Autodesk reseller channel will be using this dataset, so it won't be available to the general public, but you can get a lot out of it - so ask the resellers questions about filters, systems, parameters and more - that's where we spent quite a bit of time.
Next up - the new stuff...key items I really liked in the beta were the systems tools. We've been teaching users to follow a four step system for years, and use it ourselves. While we're going to continue to follow this workflow, the program is more forgiving now. You don't have to define the systems first - but if you connect a duct or pipe to a piece of equipment or terminal, the system is created by default. That saves a step in the process, and allows a user to place a source, draw the duct or pipe, connect to a target and the system is created. I would still review the system to make sure items such as the name of the system are defined the way I want, but this pushes the user to create the system. I like this because we had a majority of our users being lazy, and not taking the step of defining the system - so now it's forced, which is good.
Added to the view filters are the System Classification and System Abbreviation options - you can use this to control the entire connected run's color and linetype, which helps reduce some of the filter rules. Since a lot of users employ labels for their systems, that makes this step a heck of a lot easier. And now, you're not restricted to just the default supply/return/exhaust or default pipe types - you can create and edit primary system types for duct and piping systems - YEAH! Look for these settings under the families section of the project browser. You can create a new version by picking an existing system, right mouse click and then picking Duplicate. All of these settings are now moved out of the MEP settings area of the Manage tab.
Tying into the systems are the system check tools - we've had a couple of these in 2011, but the new feature is the Show Disconnects - this little switch places warning icons everywhere a system is not properly connected. This becomes important for several reasons - you can't use sizing tools if the program doesn't recognize a component as connected, and it also shows me where users cheat - for example, a duct runs to an air terminal, but the the terminal is at a different elevation, and the duct is "sort of" drawn to it. This gives me the ability to quickly check the work of our users, and make sure they're following our guidelines. You can find these tools on the Analyze tab (BTW- the interface is largely unchanged - so don't tell me you can't find anything - you've had a whole year to get used to the ribbon).
Speaking of the Analyze tab - there's a new panel for energy analysis tools. First up is the analyze mass model tool, that lets the program link directly into Conceptual Energy Analysis tool - make sure you have an account define for Autodesk when doing this, and it only works if you're on subscription. Also included are more detail energy settings, including new Energy Modeling settings. These allow you to choose if you want to create an energy model, set the core offset values, divide perimeter zones, set conceptual constructions for mass elements, set target percentage glazing and skylights, sill height, and glazing shading options. Building operating schedules, the default HVAC system, and outdoor air information is also included in this palette, so they're easier to find and edit.
One other key feature I found out about from our architecture team is the ability to take a central file back to a non-worksharing environment. I haven't been able to test this yet, but as soon as I can try it, I'll let you know how it works - but this should make file sharing between firms much easier.
For duct and pipe, you now have a single line placeholder, to create fundamental layouts without worrying about fittings, sizes, etc. For early designs, this is what most of our guys are used to showing, so this gives them an intermediate step before actually creating the main layouts. Again, I'll post more on this later.
Parallel conduit and pipe tools are now included - this kind of goes against my system workflow policies of modeling, but I'm sure there's going to be times when we'll want to use this. Another one to try out, and come back for more detail later.
Electrical settings have added a panel schedule setting that includes the default text values for spaces and spares, and where or not to include spares in the load totals for a panel. There's also an option for merging multi-pole circuits into a single cell. Load names in a panel can also be controlled in the schedule, using presets from source parameters, or forcing initials, sentence case or upper case for the load names...nice....circuit name control by phase is also a new electrical setting.
Mechanical settings include more schedules and types for piping, so this has been expanded for 2012, with more accurate and up-to-date tables. An option for setting default slopes in a project is also included. Since the rise drop symbol setting has been moved to the new systems option, the size for the annotation is now located under Pipe Settings.
There's a lot more going on - but these are the ones I really got worked up about while working on the beta project. Kudos to Dave, Armundo and the MEP gang to make Revit MEP even more powerful and user friendly - for more details, go to www. Autodesk.com, and sign up for the upcoming product release seminars - these start in April, right around the product shipping date. We're going to upgrade as soon as we can - so I'd be looking at this closely...
Next up - the AutoCAD MEP 2012 updates...IFC support!