Design-Level BIM

In an effort to provide a higher quality BIM at the design level, PCI Skanska, the engineering  division of Skanska USA Civil Midwest,  adopted SysQue for Autodesk® Revit® for mechanical and plumbing design modeling. All Revit projects produced in our office are built on real-world content. However, given that engineering firms typically do not specify exact manufacturers for their pipe construction specifications, but instead provide the requirements to which the pipe systems must adhere (e.g., ASTM standards, schedule, material, and so on), we discussed with Industrial Contractors Skanska (the construction portion of Skanska USA Civil Midwest with which we typically have design-build projects) their preferred pipe construction specifications.

Essentially, we as engineers need to design and coordinate mechanical systems in a building where the pipe specification may have real-world implications on installation. Drawing with unrealistic content, or completely

different content than what is likely installed, is a hazard to the project. If we know we want a water system installed with a grooved pipe specification, why not match what our sister company will likely install? Why design and coordinate with fittings that simply do not exist in the real world? SysQue and Building Data provide us this solution in the Revit environment where my team happily and efficiently coexists with our other in-house architectural, structural, and electrical design teams.

To begin, I looked at the text version of the various pipe construction specifications we typically used for our design projects and made changes where the engineering specifications did not entirely match the construction preferences. I regrouped the pipe specifications by the pipe construction specification itself rather than the fluid system type (i.e., butt-welded rather than chilled water supply). Because Revit allows us to have separate system definitions by fluid type and design purpose, our Revit pipe types can be based on the actual pipe construction specification rather than the fluid within the pipe. One Revit pipe type is available for multiple system types, rather than having a different pipe type for every system type. This reorganization also assists designers and engineers with choosing appropriate pipe construction specifications by seeing where each specification is applicable. Once I created the matrix of pipe construction types with available fluid design purpose (see Figure 1), I organized the written specifications by this new index (Figure 2). The written specifications typically found in spec books or on the first few sheets of drawing packages are now indexed in a Microsoft Word file in the same order as the matrix.  

Figure 1

Figure 2

Next I had to choose real-world content for our Revit projects. To populate our SysQue “Systems.xml” file, I created a tabbed Microsoft Excel file (Figure 3) detailing each pipe construction specification’s key components such as pipe type, fittings, valves, flanges, unions, and so on. I chose a specific manufacturer and model number for every component listed in our text-based specs in consultation with our construction estimators. Armed with the Excel file, I looked at the default SysQue “Systems.xml” file and using Microsoft Visual Studio Express 2013 for Windows, I began cutting, pasting, renaming, and rearranging the default build to suit my new organized and indexed pipe construction specifications (Figure 4). Where the default arrangement of components did not match my needs, I used SysQue’s built-in method of adding content to my “System.xml” file (see Figure 5). Where content was not available as part of the initial install, I used to download the remaining Revit families (Figure 6). If I came across a key component for our pipe specifications that was not available, I requested that the Revit content be created by Building Data by submitting a manufacturer’s submittal sheet through the website.

Figure 3

Figure 4

Figure 5

Figure 6

What began as an engineering firm choosing pipe specifications based on someone’s idea of what it should/could be and a construction firm installing pipe types that are a better value to the client, ended as a design-to-construction process. The process was built on installed components matching designed components where the designed components were modeled by knowing what the preferred installed components would be. Our Revit pipe types have an indexed system family name that coincides with our pipe specification text (see Figures 7 and 8).

Figure 7

Figure 8

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