The Autodesk Building Design Suite 2012 for Building Contractors.

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With new tools and greater functionality aimed specifically at handing the Revit model over from the Design team to the Building Contractor, we could see the way we share information change dramatically in the near future.

If you work for a Building Contractor you may be interested in my recent Post on the Autodesk Product Design Suite 2012 for Builders – at the end of which, I questioned what’s new in the Autodesk Building Design Suite 2012 and asked how these new tools might effect the workflow for Building Contractors.

A Revit Model From the Revit Kid

Picture from the Revit Kid

So what’s Revit?

Autodesk’s Revit software is a parametric building design tool. Revit is Autodesk’s ‘BIM’ solution. It’s a bit like Inventor – but for Architects.

So what’s BIM?

BIM, or ‘Building Information modelling is the idea that the specification for a building can be coordinated using a computer generated 3D model as a database.

Drawings, Specifications and Bill of Quantities are all different aspects of the same model/database. Because all these items are linked to the same database/model, any change to the model will automagically update all the appropriate documents that are associated to the model.

Autodesk Revit has a pair of companion products, Revit Structure and Revit MEP. Both the structural Engineer and the Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Engineer can use the Architect’s Revit model as a base on which to add in their own intelligent design models.

The ambition for the BIM is that it will be used all the way through the life cycle of the Building – from Design to Facilities management, and maybe even disposal.

So what’s New?

Autodesk Revit 2012 has a number of new features that are designed to encourage further use of the shared 3D model by the Consulting team and the Building Contractor.

  • Revit Server
  • Citrix Compatibility
  • Autodesk Vault for AEC
  • Part and Assembly creation
  • Materials
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Revit Server

Revit Server allows the consulting team to manage their combined 3D Model on a shared Host server (presumably supplied by the client?). The Architect, Designers and Engineers can use Autodesk Vault to ‘Check out’ parts of the model to work on. When the Model is Checked back in, the changes are up-dated in the corresponding models.

Revit Server From the Revit ST Blog

Picture from The Revit ST Blog

The Builder and the Consulting team can use Autodesk Navisworks (A lightweight BIM viewer) to view and comment on the combined Model directly. If the M&E team have routed a pipe through a structural member, the clash will be detected and the models can be adjusted to eliminate the problem.

There is also a new command line ‘Revit Server tool’ which will allow access to the shared BIM, without having Revit. Look out for an influx of Revit Server Apps!

Citrix Compatibility

The Citrix Ready Logo

Citrix ready’ means that the Consulting team may not even have to have Revit installed on their PC to edit the model. Revit could be installed on the server and operated remotely from a Citrix Thin client.

It’s worth noting that Project extranets such as ASITE have already integrated BIM sharing into there workflow.

Be prepared for information no longer coming to us – we may need to go to it! The Building Contractor may be given the tools to analyse the BIM for the information they need, rather than waiting for information to be dished out by the Architect.

Revit Assemblies, Parts and 3D Views

There are some new features in Revit for breaking out sections of the model into parts or sub-assemblies that can be shown and annotated in 3D drawing views.

These are referred to as ‘Shop Drawings’ in the US. In the UK We would call these drawings ‘Architects Details’. I don’t think that these drawings should be confused with the Fabrication drawings that are produced by the Building Contractors.

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The part and assembly tools are also designed to tempt the Building Contractor into the Revit workflow. The idea is that the Contractor can subdivide sections of the model to more accurately represent the tendered packages.

The subdivided model can be used to generate a Bill of quantities and can be attached to the Contractors programme to add a 4D element to the model (i.e the model can be viewed at various stages of the programme).

This process could help plan to avoid clashes with Items such as cranes and hoists, during the structural phase of the project.


Materials

Autodesk have revised the Materials palettes across the board for all Autodesk products.

If you export a model from Autodesk Inventor in ADSK format, the materials will be retained, and recognised by Revit when the model is imported.

The Revit 2012 Materials Appearance Library From Revit3D.com

Picture from Revit3D.com

What’s Old?

Autodesk Revit drawings are DWG files, so you won’t have to have Revit or Navisworks to share information with the Architect’s team. The schedules that are automatically created by Revit can be exported to Excel spread sheets, so there shouldn’t be any trouble there either.

So will we need to become BIM Experts?

Building Information Models are typically modelled at a level of detail similar to a 1:100 scale drawing. The 3D model is used for collaboration and coordination. Currently, many of the Architects details are still drawn with AutoCAD.

The new tools in Revit 2012 will allow the Architect to produce much better detail drawings directly from the Revit model, but I don’t see the drawings that are produced being of a fabrication quality.

I can see Principle Contractors who are working on Hospitals, Universities and other complex projects benefiting from employing BIM experts in the near future. I think that it will be some time before this trickles down to smaller Contractors.

In my opinion, the place for the Building Contractor’s BIM expert will be with the Estimators and Quantity surveyors – not on the Drawing office!

Is 3D the Future?

No – 3D is the present! The Building industry tends to lag behind Engineering or Product design with the uptake of new technology.

As always, the adoption of BIM will be driven by the Client. It was recently reported that the UK’s biggest Client (The Government!) have announced that it will be requiring the use of BIM on it’s future building projects.

Whilst I don’t think that Drafters providing fabrication drawings in the construction industry will be required to use Revit in the near future, I do see Architects and Designers requesting more 3D content from us for inclusion in their BIM models.

Drafters who don’t take the opportunity to learn how to use 3D design tools such as Autodesk Inventor could find themselves in the same position as those ‘Old Boys’ who never made it off the Drawing board.

Conclusion

Autodesk are running full steam ahead to realize their Goal of providing the technology for Designers, Engineers and Fabricators to coordinate their efforts by the exchange of 3D Data.

Taking the broader view, it seems like we are living in the middle of an unfinished process that merely started off with 2D CAD.

I am very exited to be along for the ride!

 

Find out more about The Autodesk 2012 Product Design Suite for Builders

 

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