Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How to Know Everything Revit MEP

Mastering Revit MEP can take years. The software accurately models in three dimensions, runs analysis, performs interference checks, and creates construction documents for HVAC, plumbing, lighting and power designs. When trying to learn everything there is to know about Revit MEP, it is not hard to miss the ever increasing number of developments, add-ins, and third party packages that can take your designs to the next level. Three to five years ago, simply using Revit MEP could have won a job. These days’ MEP firms are having to one up the next guy. Simply having a three dimensional model isn’t enough. It’s no place for the technology challenged, but it is also an opportunity for the technology savvy with their eye on the latest developments. This article will explore how to stay on top of the latest developments and fill you in what’s already out there to be leveraged for Revit MEP users.

Knowing What You Don’t Know
How does one stay informed on the latest and greatest developments in the CAD world? Reading AUGIWorld is a great start, but it will take the power of the internet to keep up these days. There are so many great sites and so much data out there, it can be hard to sift thought it all to actually find relevant information. Here are some suggestions.
Take a half hour every work day just to research. It is so easy to be in fire fighting mode all the time. There never seems to be a shortage of things going wrong. If it means coming in early or staying a little late, turn off your phone and email, set a timer and explore the internet for something new.
Join AUGI and follow the Revit MEP Forums. Ask questions or just mine the valuable information, tips and tricks, family specific help, and the official Revit MEP Wish list found there.
Whenever you find a blog or website that has good information, follow it. Some will send email alerts when there are new posts, most have RSS feeds.
Use a RSS reader to bring your data together. I use Google Reader, but there are others. A good reader will allow you one stop shopping for the blogs and websites you visit most.
Follow the authors and rock stars of the Revit MEP world. Do they tweet? If they do, I bet the information is timely.
Use Google Alerts to receive an email when ever there is something of interest posted on the internet. Create alerts for things like; BIM, IFC, Revit MEP Add-in, Kyle Bernhardt, Shawn Zirbes, Revit connectors, anything or one at all that interests you. These alerts can be sent to your email or straight to Google Reader.
Add the Autodesk Press Room to your RSS reader or receive emails. Go to http://pressreleases.autodesk.com/ to find out what Autodesk is up to the second they release it.
Autodesk Labs is constantly thinking of the unbelievable. Check out there web page at http://labs.autodesk.com. Just last month they released an ASHRAE viewer plug-in for Revit MEP that allows users to access the ASHRAE Duct Fitting database for viewing data and illustrations to determine pressure loss coefficients through standard duct fittings.
Talk to other people. Other people think differently than you, which means they solve problems in a way you may not have thought of. It also means they may know something that you do not. These people are in your office, and they are outside of your office. Go to the user group meetings (start one if you have to). These people are facing the same issues as you, looking for the same types of information as you, and they have these meeting just to share the solutions you need. You can also make contacts with CAD/BIM smarty-pants at ASHRAE, CSI, IEEE or any other MEP oriented group meeting. The point is go out there and meet people.
Get training. Your reseller likely offers great training and is in touch with the latest trends. CAD Camp is rolling out this month. Autodesk University has the greatest collection of Revit MEP geeks in the world.
You Tube. Can’t beat it for just in time training. Autodesk has its own channel http://www.youtube.com/user/Autodesk, and users all over the globe are posting incredibly helpful videos of just about everything.

What You Might have Missed
What kinds of information can you expect to find for all this poking around? Here are some tidbits I have been following.
Eastcoast has put out an add-in to Revit MEP to export Revit duct, fittings, and accessories into AutoCAD MEP. This workflow allows for tweaking in AutoCAD MEP, exporting to Eascoast’s Ductmaker software then out to a plasma cutter. This is a real exciting development for sheet metal subs, who have been getting more Revit MEP files and less AutoCAD MEP. Now they can continue to use the time tested technology Eastcoast CAD/CAM first put out nearly six years ago. Find out more about Eastcoast’s workflow for Revit MEP by going to http://www.eccadcam.com/software_solutions/autocad_mep_fabrication_workflow.shtml.
FAB mep+ from Map has a similar add-in that allows for the export of Revit duct, fittings, and accessories into the MAP software suite of products which can convert those entities’ to fabrication standards for accurate estimating, procurement and manufacture. This software maps a Revit elements to a standard duct entity. This system can go a long way towards quantifying the sheet metal, but falls short on exact clash detection and the post design tweaking that Eastcoast’s software allows in AutoCAD MEP. Find out more about FAB mep+ by visiting http://www.map-software.com/solutions/fabmep-autodesk-revit-to-map-software-conversion-application.
CADworks has a product called BIMXchange which is a web based content browser that runs inside of Revit MEP. It acts as a gateway to CADworks Revit  library of over 20,000  generic, and manufacturer specific families. Some of these families, like Bell and Gossett pumps are only available through the BIMXchange interface. Their solution keeps the content in the CADworks cloud and can include the content already created by a firm by loading it up to the CADworks cloud. That content is downloaded by individually licensed users as the content is required for each project. CADworks takes a service approach by licensing the use of the browser and not charging for the individual content. This may help CADworks in securing deals with content manufactures. CADworks does make high quality families, but some users may find that generic content is preferable in design. Find out more about CADworks BIMXchange by going to http://www.cadworks.net/products/bimxchange.

Can We Talk?
Change is inevitable and it is accelerating. Keeping in tune with change will not only keep you prepared for the future and help your firm make smarter decisions; it can also be the difference between survival and surrender in a world that is increasingly information driven. Over the last few years Revit’s API has become more and more open, allowing for third party applications of all kinds to add value to the base program. Whether it is better integration with specifications, faster content selection and management, or even other Autodesk programs and services like Green Building Studio, Vasari, and Ecotect, the days of information trapped in a single program really can’t existing anymore. The “I” in BIM is where the value really lies, and what better way to truly share information than to allow other applications to plug directly into Revit MEP and vice versa. At this point, It doesn’t matter if it is IFC, gbxml, AUGI, a Google search, or a RSS reader, the information is flowing and we all need to tap to go forward.
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