Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Revit MEP How to Create a Lighting Fixture Schedule

This just came out in the March issue of AUGIWorld or read it directly below.

Revit MEP offers many advantages compared to two dimensional CAD programs. A big advantage is the ability to quantify Revit objects in schedules. Knowing exactly what you have in a model at all times and knowing that number is correct, brings a level of confidence that enhances the design. Out of the box, a user need only understand the scheduling function in Revit to start leveraging that data inherent in the model. As firms get savvier with the software, the out of the box families may not provide all the required information for a complete schedule. This article will demonstrate all the components required to create a functioning lighting fixture schedule with custom data. The instruction shown here can be equally applied to any schedulable family in Revit.

Revit schedules report data that is contained in families. The first step to creating a good schedule is knowing what information is required in the schedule. In this case lighting fixtures are scheduled and the data required is fixture number, manufacturer, catalog number, lamp quantity, lamp type, volts, mounting, description, and remarks.

Now that the required information is quantified, for each parameter a decision has to be made between making it a “Type” parameter or an “Instance” parameter. Type parameters will be common to every fixture of that type. Instance parameters can be different for every instance placed in the model. Consider process when making decisions here. It may be common practice to use one family to represent to very similar yet different fixtures. If this is the case the fixture number must be an instance parameter because it has to represent to different fixtures. What will work best for different firms will take careful consideration. For this example the parameters have been broken down as indicated below. 

Instance parameters
            Fixture Number
            Catalog Number
Lamp Quantity

Type parameters
            Lamp Type   

If the out of the box family “Troffer Light – 2x4 Parabolic” is placed in an empty project without using a template the only parameters available when creating a new schedule are the manufacturer and lamp type. That leaves quite a few blanks from the list above. This is because Revit schedules are looking for Project parameters and Shared parameters only.

Shared Parameters
For a shared parameter to function it must first be associated with shared parameters file associated with the project. It must also be added to each family of the category Lighting Fixture in this case. Create a new shared parameter by clicking the Shared Parameters tool on the Manage tab of the ribbon and add it to the list.

Project Parameters
Shared parameters can be made into project parameters, by going to the Manage tab of the ribbon and selecting the Project Parameters tool. The advantage of project parameters is that they are automatically attached to categories of Revit families. If a project parameter of Mounting is created and assigned to the category of lighting fixtures, every light fixture inserted into the project will contain the parameter of Mounting. This is helpful when a combination of company families is being used with out of the box content and families found from other sources. They can all be scheduled the same. If project parameters are placed in the company standard template, the user need only place fixtures to start making the lighting fixture schedule. The down side may be a normal MEP firm may have 100-200 different standard schedules; the parameters required for the schedules may number in the thousands, making the shared parameters file quite large and difficult to navigate. A good naming convention can help elevate this problem.

For this example, project parameters will be used. Here comes a long succession of dialogs, but hang in there, it will all work out in the end. Start by selecting Project Parameters from the Manage tab of the ribbon. This will bring up the Project Parameters dialog; click the Add… button to open the Parameter Properties dialog. In this dialog check the Shared parameter radio button and then click the Select... button. This takes us to the Shared Parameters dialog. Click the Edit… button to finally arrive at the Edit Shared Parameters dialog.

To either clarify or further confuse, what just happened here is we started with the Project Parameters dialog and went around the block to add a shared parameter. It may make more sense to simply go to the Manage tab and select the Shared Parameters tool, and add all of the shared parameters first then simply make them into project parameters. The more experienced user, however, may find that going through these “wormholes” is more direct.

Use the New… button under the Groups heading to create a group for the shared lighting parameters. Grouping the parameter really helps the user navigate to the required parameter. The example below uses E-Lighting as a group name. Starting each group with a discipline letter like M for mechanical or G for general also helps speed the search time when looking for parameters.

Use the New… button under the Parameters heading to add a new shared parameter. Naming convention again plays an important role. Prefixing all schedulable parameters with the letters Schd not only makes sense behind the scenes, but also helps the user attach data to the correct parameter while in projects. The screen shot below shows a group of created parameters for the Lighting Fixture schedule. Besides a name each of these parameters has a discipline and type. The Schd-Remarks parameter, for instance, uses the type Text found under the Common discipline.

With the shared parameter added, now select it in the Shared Parameters dialog to make it a project parameter and click OK. In the Shared Parameters dialog check the Lighting Fixtures check box under Categories. Next pick either Type or Instance, and then group the parameter under the desired group. For scheduled parameters, I prefer grouping under Identity Data.

With all of the parameters in place, a schedule can be created. Go to the View tab of the ribbon and select the Schedules then Schedule/Quantities tool.

In the New Schedule dialog select Lighting Fixtures as the category. It is also a good time to type over the given name with all caps or change the name as needed. Then click OK.

In the fields tab of the Schedule Properties dialog add all of the required parameters then use the Move Up and Move Down button to arrange the fields as required.

The Filters tab can be used to filter out certain fixtures. For this example, set Filter by: to (none).

The Sorting/Grouping tab is used to sort the data. Since The fixture number is the first column, sort ascending by fixture Number. Also uncheck the Itemize every instance check box at the bottom of the Sorting/Grouping tab.

The Formatting tab can be used to give the schedule headings different names than the parameters they report. In the example below the parameters of Schd-Fixture Number will fall under a column named FIXTURE No#.

The Appearance tab controls the fonts and grids of the schedule. Adjust as needed for the best appearance.

Add this schedule to the company template along with the project parameters just created and the user need only add fixture to start the lighting fixture schedule.

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