ARE WE MAKING REVIT/ BIM TOO COMPLICATED?

I am greatly concerned about the general industry trend where firms are simply adding too much clutter/data/detail/ additional functionality to their families and models without enough rigorous thought about exactly why they feel the need to do this.

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_OopsObjects and projects are becoming overly complicated to interact with. A family with 50 or even 100 parameters is becoming the norm and parametric functionality is assumed as an almost automatic requirement. Almost every dimension can be scheduled in projects and the detailing levels of Revit families just seem to keep increasing. I think that this approach is a really bad idea. The more complex we make Revit/BIM objects or projects – the more conscious and subconscious decisions are required just to interact and navigate through the model environment.

Here are some thoughts on possibly rethinking how we evaluate why and how we choose to build company systems and Revit content:

TIP #1 – How is our Revit/ BIM content impacting project workflows?

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_Productivity

Before following the BIM industry frenzy of adding more and more detail into projects, schedules and component libraries maybe ask this question:

  • Why are we adding more complex families to our libraries and what proportion of the drafting team does this impact?
    • If it solves a problem for one team member that does detailing but creates a headache for the remaining 20 people on the team then it might not be the best solution and perhaps 2D detailing in combination with simpler Revit families should be considered instead.

TIP #2Beware of creating unnecessarily complicated Revit content

BIMBOOMBAM_SkillLevel

Bear in mind:

  • The more data your families hold, the more data drafting teams will have to manage, maintain and update.
  • The more complicated your families are (in model, detail or data form) – the more advanced the drafters will need to be in using Revit in order to be able to interact with or edit your content. These families will also be more likely to break as well when drafters try to edit them.
  • If you have a high staff turnover (this requires honest reflection) then consider building a Revit/BIM strategy that caters for inexperienced to intermediate Revit users instead of needing advanced Revit users. Basic to intermediate Revit users are cheaper and easier to replace than trying to find ‘Revit guns’ for every project.
  • You will also need a highly skilled content creator to manage your library if it is very complicated to edit and maintain. Such specialized skills might be harder to find.

TIP #3 – Avoid creating Revit content that is designed to step over training issues within your firm.

BIMBOOMBAM_TrainingRequired

It can be very tempting to create families that do some of the more complicated tasks automatically for the drafters simply in the aim to reduce risks and improve accuracy. To some degree this can be smart and in other ways it can also result in families that are possibly too detailed and cumbersome to work with because they are doing so much.

  • Try not to absolve drafting teams from all accountability. Sometimes making a few conscious decisions along the way can be helpful prompts to assist drafting teams to make informed design decisions.
  • Whilst highly detailed Revit families can be used to overcome shortcomings in staff knowledge I would suggest that firms instead invest in (1) a well-considered and thoroughly audited details library and (2) technical drafting training for their staff instead.

BIMBOOMBAM_UHmmmm

“Just because we CAN doesn’t mean we SHOULD…”

Hope that this has been useful food for thought.

Michelle

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KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT

In my opinion I believe the ultimate aim of a Revit® Manager should be to duplicate good quality Revit® knowledge and best practices and standards to all drafting staff within the office.

  • Document Revit® standards in your office. In my experience such documentation results in fewer questions, interruptions, mistakes and unknowns. I even use it as a reference myself if I can’t recall why I set up something a certain way.
  •  Document Processes
  • Have a training strategy in place for training staff of various skill levels, keep expanding and investing in staff training
  • Consider independent review?
  • Teach, monitor, audit and teach some more
  • Auditing can be an invaluable training opportunity

PROJECT SPECIFIC REVIT CONTENT – WHERE TO KEEP IT?

Personally I am not a fan of project specific content hidden in obscure places. I suggest considering a Project-specific-library with sub folders in it for each relevant project number. Consider having all project specific content all in one library location – and not under individual project folders scattered across the server. I think it is a waste of time and resources when users file their families on their C:Drive or in some remote location.

It’s an absurd solution in my opinion and ensures that families will be made over and over again for no good reason, due to inefficient file management. It also makes auditing and monitoring content inefficient and I assert problematic to say the least.

IMPACT OF NESTING REVIT FAMILIES

FILE SIZE

We know nesting can DRAMATICALLY blows out your file size! Did I mention dramatically?

But what I have discovered too is that it also impacts the processing speed by which changes can be made to a family in the project file.

PERFORMANCE IMPACTS – NO MORE THAN 1 LEVEL OF NESTING 

I have found that the deeper you nest families the longer they take to update in the project file.

  •  1 level of nesting – Took almost twice as long to update changes than no nesting.
  • 2 levels of nesting – Took basically three times as long
  • 3 levels of nesting – I didn’t even bother ;-p

AM I STILL SAYING THAT MOST DRAFTERS SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO CREATE FAMILY CONTENT?

The answer is ‘ YES – yes and YES ‘ but for those of you who find my perspective too rigid I have also added some other comments below which might help you come up with a workable, more flexible solution.  Personally PLAN A is the most compromise I would make on any of my systems because I find my methodology works really well when implementing Revit® in larger firms of 100 or more drafting staff.

PLAN A

  • Drafters create a temporary place holder. The required component is ordered & made by approved content creator.
  • The approved content is then loaded into project to replace temporary family and Revit Manager places a copy of the new family in the main library for duplicate use in future. (Or to a project specific folder. * See my comments of Project specific libraries.)

PLAN B

  • Most families are crude cube representations in 3D, with relevant offsets & parametric intelligence. Floor plan and elevation representations of objects are created in line work to ensure they appear correctly in required sheet production views.
  • Drafters could create their own families with 2D representation but these families still need to be audited some how.
  • More sympathetic 3D model representation may then be updated if required for families in specific views that are required for certain presentation or documentation deliverables.
  • Although this is not a sexy option – it may offer a suitable change over solution while libraries are slowly generated.
  • I would say however that certain objects will still need full modeling like doors and windows.

PLAN C

  • Essentially everyone creates their own components themselves. (Anything they need)
  • Dependant on size of office. (Small companies may need to do this but will need strict procedures in place if they want to keep everything in check)
  • Train, monitor, and train some more…… and more….. and more……
  • Have a strict review system
  • Define office standards clearly and meticulously to ensure some standards and automation can be used in Projects
  • Revit Manager should make a regular practice of auditing library weekly in medium-sized firms using this approach.
  • Families can be saved to a location to be approved, edited and issued by Revit Manager (Time consuming)
  • This option can potentially risk file stability, processing speed and office output productivity
  • Company will potentially need to compromise on system automation benefits (depending on auditing process)
  • My thoughts……GOOD LUCK!!!

DISCLAIMER – I DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER. DO YOU?

I am not going to pretend that I know everything about this BUZZ word “BIM” because I don’t think it is that easy to grasp – The ramifications from a business and industry perspective is huge and so multi-faceted. The current enquiry for me is to move beyond any single software/supplier solution. BIM is so much more than a 3D model stuffed with heaps of “possibly useful” data and some sexy schedules. In this blog I will engage in a dialogue of “What is BIM really and how (as an Industry) do we actually pull this off? “ in the hope that this debate may lead to the expansion of my (and perhaps your) understanding of BIM beyond some of the surface solutions that are being promoted out there that seem to have little substance when I dig a bit deeper and challenge a typical software salesman’s solution.

Frankly – I’m bored of the conversation that everything should be stored in a 3D model and that schedule exports of quantity take-off’s equates to using “BIM”.

I guess technically it is – perhaps defined as “small BIM”. All I can seem to comprehend from my understanding and research is that the true concept of BIM in the context of industry change is far-reaching. I have read journals and definitions of BIM that truly challenge the efficiency of our industry and exposes the depth of data mismanagement and the enormous challenge that lies ahead to address some of the issues. This inefficiency results in project costs blowing out, wastage of resources, materials and the duplication of knowledge multiple times within the life cycle of a project. (Some statistics claim 7-9 times in a project is the same data recaptured by various Departments and specialists) There must be a better way – and in my opinion it means thinking beyond a single platform solution.

I am beginning to grapple with the enormous challenge that comprehensive BIM is asking of the Design and Construction Industry and I am curious to see whether egos will be put aside and territories will be merged within our industry in order to accomplish this enormous task. Of course – there is hope. I remain committed to see a solution that provides a sustainable, duplicative and comprehensive solution that does not result in information overload across Departments and just another version of chaotic Information management.

Does anyone have some insight or comments on how we could go about this?

© Copyright Reserved by Michelle Louw

BIM – BEYOND A SOFTWARE SOLUTION OR COMPANY CHANGE

I don’t know about you…. but I feel like a change….

I have been in the world of Revit for 6 years now and I am a big fan of the software and still use it at work and in business but I really feel it’s time for me to expand way beyond just Revit. I’ve been swimming in the world of automated drawings, virtual building masses, live schedules and data base formulations for many years now. But I feel I’ve only scratched the surface of what is possible… and only had a glimpse of how Systems could change our world and how we function as a whole within the industry, how we communicate and interact and move forward into a more cohesive, streamlined and efficient response to designing, simulating, analysing, building and managing our built environment.

In my previous posts I have tried to collate some sort of archive of some of the knowledge and experience that I have gained in the Revit arena through Family creation and content and System development that is floating in this head of mine. I have taken the time to list many of my thoughts on Family creation on this blog in the hope that some people may find my notes useful.

From time to time I will still add a trinket here and there of Revit specific insights but I have set this blog up with a different agenda in mind…. and that is to invite some colleagues, strangers and friends to work with me to elaborate on where BIM ( in the context of an Industry solution) may evolve.

This research project is about looking beyond a firm based solution and I am engaged and intrigued by the enormous challenge that lies for the industry as a whole and how we intend to deal with the information overload and congestion that is already rife in our industry.

So feel free to join me on this debate if you wish as I grab a warm coffee, or smooth glass of wine and recline for a while and wonder what the future brings and how I, how we, can be a part of the solution….

IS IT TIME FOR A REVIT/ BIM SYSTEM MANAGER?

Perhaps it is time for your office to have a Revit® Manager, in a full-time or part-time capacity, to keep everything in check so that you have considerably less downtime in productivity in Revit®. Creating content for in-experienced Revit® users will prevent them from getting frustrated because Revit® is “not doing what they want it to do”? A designer’s resources and talent is far more valuable being used elsewhere instead of creating content. I have seen many a profit margin dwindle when inexperienced Revit® documenters are struggling to create, repair and edit content, taking days to do what a professional Content creator might be able to accomplish in several hours and probably with more accuracy and long-term sustainability.

Revit® Managers can be used to

  • Continually interrogate working Projects
  • Fix more complex Revit® modelling issues
  • Train staff and document Office standards
  • Create, maintain, repair and manage Office content
  • Oversee deployments

© Copyright Reserved by Michelle Louw (Excerpt from My speaker notes at National Revit Technology Conference 2008.)

SYSTEM MANAGEMENT – FAMILY LIBRARIES

MANAGE & MAINTAIN YOUR CONTENT

In a multi-user office environment it is imperative that you take precautions and create a process to protect your valuable content. You do not want any of your less experienced users editing the office approved content and then overwriting your library. I recommend that you nominate a few skilled Revit® users to be trained up and approved to be allowed to create content for the rest of the office. Someone will need to maintain the library and keep the inexperienced users in check by making sure they have no reason to edit office content.

© Copyright Reserved by Michelle Louw (Excerpt from My speaker notes at National Revit Technology Conference 2008.)

WHAT I CALL – REVERSE ENGINEERING

KNOW WHAT YOU WANT BEFORE YOU START – REVERSE ENGINEERING

Rushing in and creating families without knowing the output you want or may need in future is not a good idea. Defining the initial brief may take some time but will save you hours of work and potentially tens of thousands of dollars in the long run. The benefits of defining a clear and thorough brief first will definitely pay off. This really is so important. Again – make sure you don’t have someone creating content that likes to rush in and never finishes things off properly.

I believe that the best way to develop a good Revit® System is to Reverse Engineer. I do this by first defining the output documents that are required at Marketing, DA and CC stages so that I understand the deliverables and work backwards to determine how best to deliver those documents and data through Revit®.

© Copyright Reserved by Michelle Louw