What if… #BIMisREVIT
In these days when technology is overwhelming the AEC industry, one of the most important and repeated words in the workplace is “workflow.”
BIM managers and BIM coordinators are responsible for figuring out a way to put all the information together in the most efficient way, either internally within our own companies and disciplines, or externally coming from other disciplines, companies, software, etc., in our Autodesk® Revit® files.
This task, thanks to the wide variety and number of tools now available, requires diligence and needs to ensure the consistency and integrity of all data managed in the project.
The complexity of these workflows can depend on the complexity of the projects, the size, or the native software used for design, calculation, analysis, visualization, costing, etc. and the interoperability among all of them. Our role not only includes the coordination of the team, but also, on occasion, “kind of” IT difficulties that we have to sort out in the best way we can.
The software industry now has a new, but already wide, area where innovation is more than required, making the way we exchange information and collaboration in the projects much simpler, straighter, and easier.
In 2002, Autodesk was the first company to make the term “BIM” popular as we know and understand it today. Since 1994, Autodesk has been contributing with other companies in the field in the creation of a BIM-neutral format to make possible the interoperability between the different software used in the AEC industry: the IFC format.
This was the ignition of the big change that we all are living, 14 years ago! Not many significant things have happened since then. Several countries are starting to recommend or even make mandatory the use of BIM, while they develop consistent standards to make the adoption possible.
All types of companies and teams of all sizes in the AEC industry need a tool to make their participation in BIM projects efficient and successful.
Figure 1: Viral on LinkedIn
Revit is one of the best BIM tools, if not the best one nowadays. But several companies jumped from 2D to 3D for the great efficiency that Revit allows in a simple interface, and the perfect consistency between all the outputs of the project, and not just for collaborating in BIM projects.
The confusion and the constant argument about what is Revit and what is BIM is hilarious... Revit is a 3D modeling tool, but it has some other ingredients that are confusing people, and not without reason.
Let’s suppose in this article that this extended misunderstanding has a reasonable basis. Let’s see what parts of the project Revit would need to cover to be BIM. We will see that there are not many, and these lacks are mainly in the Management and Collaboration tools.
Let’s imagine that #BIMwillbeREVIT.
When two years ago the size of my projects changed extremely, I was about to lose my faith. I was suddenly in a project with 160 Revit files and a huge number of users. The management of those files was absolutely crazy, and I gave up, thinking that maybe Revit was not the best option for my company.
Figure 2: New Airport of Mexico City model
I always thought that Revit Structure, BIM, and all the changes in the way of working were adopted to be much more efficient. If not, then why change? The uncertainty about the limitations of the software was my first—huge—concern.
Out of the chaos, after asking everybody endlessly (sorry!) and with some other successful experiences, I have recovered my faith. I think that a significant part of the problem is the complexity in the management of all this information and not only the limitations of Revit.
Now, I have no doubt at all: Revit is always a step forward and even though there are a lot of difficulties when the projects are big, the benefits of using Revit instead of a 2D CAD environment are obvious.
Moreover, the efficiency grows exponentially as the project grows, and, for this reason, I believe that Revit Structure is always the best option for my company. If for us it can be great, for companies with other sizes of projects it can be amazing.
A big part of Revit is information management—having the ability to control the consistency, integrity, and organization of all the information of the project no matter its size. The complexity of information management grows exponentially with the project size. Having standards in place reduces the effort necessary to manage information.
Linking (…or Worksharing?)
There are two different aspects that generally make worksharing and the BIM process management difficult. The first one, as mentioned before, is the size of the project. The use of Worksets and Collaboration tools in Revit Structure are great for small projects. In large projects, the models need to be split in different files. The division of models, and consequently information, creates a gap that needs to be bridged.
The second difficulty in the BIM process is the standardization. The use of the same standards, protocols, best practices and conventions through all the project files are pivotal for the success of the process. It is important to check the models often to guarantee the use of the same standards.
We are using Revit Structure, hundreds of tips and tricks, some workarounds, and several add-ins in order to be able to have a good output in the most efficient way possible in these large projects with a high number of users and different files.
In this area, I incorporate the Revit Model Checker option. This is a very powerful add-in which, by setting up all the standards of the project, can generate reports and give as a very clear idea about the consistency of all the files.
Figure 3: Revit Model Checker add-in
Just the incorporation of the existing tool, plus the ability to send the result to each file/workset-owner, could be perfect.
A tool such as the eTransmit Model add-in makes it possible to manage this important part of the process—the exchange of the model.
Figure 4: eTransmit Model add-in
It would be helpful to have the ability to introduce the frequency of the exchanges and milestones, giving alerts in all the open files for synchronizing before transmitting all the files from Revit.
The way of exchanging the model can be set up by default to meet the requirements of each project. Purging before, compacting, leaving or removing views, sheets, links, etc., or even the path to create the folder with all the transmitted documents are options that can be predetermined.
Once all the files are synchronized and the links are reloaded to incorporate all the changes, the model is ready to be transmitted. It would be a great option at this point to be able to choose a different file format (Navisworks®, IFC, etc.), but currently those are separate processes within Revit.
There are several features to consider to make Revit perfect for all kind of projects. Regarding the topic of this article, I will reference certain requirements in large-scale projects.
In the worksharing environment with many users, good communication is pivotal for a successful result. The Revit Worksharing Monitor (available in the Autodesk App Store) allows users to communicate clearly when someone has synchronized or requests a relinquish.
When we use links in large projects, we should be able to understand them as worksets of the project and alert in the same way the rest of the team, to synchronize instead of reload. Hosting elements in links must be considered in these cases, and also the ability to join geometry between these pieces of the model.
Creating a new Local File daily establishes a fresh start and clean working environment. The quick access to the old local files sometimes ends in a loss of work. By creating a new Local File, it eliminates having to “Reload Latest” anyway, saving a step that could easily be forgotten until it’s too late.
The creation and naming of sheets, callouts, sections, elevations, etc., needs to be consistent when we work with a “sheet file” and links. Currently it is impossible to use their annotation families properly and we need to use manual tricks to solve this.
The repetition and automatization of tasks in general is always an unexplainable pain. It should be considered that we could need 20 copies of each view, create hundreds or even thousands of sheets in a file, rename several items for any reason, and so on. Creating duplicate views for sheet placement is a fast way to bog down a project.
Last, but not least, the ability to import/export schedules to CSV or Excel files bi-directionally will allow much more flexibility while editing some data. Again, the repetition when filling data in Revit is a much too time-consuming task compared with other tools. There are several add-ins to import/export, but none of them is perfect for all the cases: some of them don’t export IDs, some don’t allow to import, some keep the formatting, etc.
Interaction with Navisworks
The next step after being able to exchange our Revit and Navisworks files, with all the information required and structured, is the federation of the different disciplines’ models to run a clash detection.
Regarding this, the management and tracking of the clashes again becomes difficult when we have several users. Communicating these results and having a good workflow for clash resolution becomes a time-consuming task.
We need to be able to exchange the results with the rest of team, assign responsibility, and track them until their resolution. The interoperability between Navisworks and Revit should be something more than Switchback: not always is the clash detection in-house, and not all the Revit users can use Navisworks.
A more efficient way to do this would be by importing the clash detective results into Revit, no matter if it is a schedule with the IDs or bubbles over the items in a set of views (like some add-ins do). The ability to click on them and see the viewpoint picture could be great to understand the clashes without exiting from Revit. Maybe a future AUGI Wish List item?
Figure 5: Clash Pinpoint feature in BIM™ 360 Glue®
If all of these options could be incorporated within Revit itself, perhaps then Revit=BIM!
Thank You for Collaborating
When we can be a tourist in space, print human body parts, choose the eyes of our babies, clone human beings, make driverless cars, etc., there’s no way to believe that a machine cannot do my job or at least, make it easier ;-)
I would like to say thank you to Autodesk, for feeding my passion. To Laura Key Smith, the BIM Freak, for making me recover the faith. To AUGI for giving me voice. To my project team for their excellence. And to my husband for his support, even though there is an ocean between us.
It was really fun to write my “I have a dream.”
Lola Carbajal works as a BIM Coordinator in Foster + Partners. She first started working with Revit as a Structural Revit Technician and is a passionate user of this software and its capabilities. In her current role, she is implementing Revit in large-scale projects, establishing the best workflows and protocols for the best coordination and collaboration of all the members of a huge team.