Across most sectors of the economy, industry specific software can deliver advantages. Often, however, those unaware of how to exploit these miss opportunities to do so.
This is no less true in building design and building information modelling. According to Brian and Desiree Mackey, who together run Colorado based BIM consultancy firm BD Mackey Consulting (Desiree is also a structural engineer and the BIM manager of Martin/Martin and who are recognised BIM leaders in the US, there are a several areas where value can be derived from Revit beyond what many users and organisations are aware. These will be explained at the upcoming BILT ANZ/NZ conference in Brisbane in late May
One area is global parameters. Essentially, these are values which can be pushed through multiple objects within a Revit file at the same time. This value could be either one which has been extracted by another source or manual data as entered by the user.
According to Brian Mackey, these can be used in several ways. When varying the thickness of structural floors, for example, global parameters enable wall heights to adjust automatically as the thickness (and thus the height) of the floor is changed. Carpets across all rooms can be automatically changed by changing one data value from one type or colour to another.
A further trick for is to link elements from within the model to external sources, such as 2D data which exists outside the model or even other 3D models. By using global parameters in this way, the 3D model is updated automatically whenever that source model or data is updated. Vice versa, the source model or data can then be automatically updated whenever updates are made to the 3D model.
Finally, global parameters can be used to prevent voluminous information from the viewer sheet from also printing when a version of the model is printed. Essentially, this involves setting up the global parameter which stops the information from printing, checking a box and unchecking this once printing is done.
All this is about reducing the need for manual work.
“You can create a digital automation,” Desiree Mackey says. “You can set up something to be more automated than it was before.”
Beyond global parameters, efficiency in working with 2D detail on multi-building projects can be aided by setting up a single file and linking this to each of the buildings within the project. This could be useful on developments such as university campuses, strip malls or effectively any project which involves more than one buildings.
Too often, Brian Mackey says, users copy and paste detail documentation from building to building within a project to get their details updated. Updating all of the buildings through one location was more efficient, he said. This is achieved through a workaround solution which Brian Mackey has developed. Revit on its own, Desiree Mackey says, does not have any inbuilt tools though which to manage this and is not in itself well equipped to manage this task.
Revit can also be used with other tools. In particular, by developing a workaround, the Mackeys have been able to mesh Revit with visual logic and parametric conceptual design tool Dynamo.
This, is useful for structural engineers, Desiree Mackey says, as Revit is limited in the amount of detailing it provides in structural design. Through interlocking the two programs together, the Mackeys have been able to combine the ability of Revit to generate interesting geometry quickly with that of Dynamo to perform critical structural analysis.
Finally, the Mackeys say, journal files which are often requested by Autodesk when assisting with support requests carry hidden value in performing repetitive tasks. These include upgrading families at each release, purging families, changing object styles in a family and adding line styles.
Beyond Revit, Desiree Mackey will also talk about working with multiple generations. Whilst this has always been challenging in light of different preferences, skills and values across generations, Mackey says this is particularly so nowadays as differences are being exacerbated by advancing technology and evolving professional landscapes whilst notions of people working longer mean that more generations will need to work together.