Revit MEP One Year On Lessons Learnt featured

Revit MEP One Year On – Lessons Learnt

Buildings 03 August 2010 | 10.00am

MEP is the Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing systems in our buildings. We are now modelling these services and connecting with analysis so we can see how a building will operate. This means better communication and documentation as well as the ability to effectively test scenarios for the way we power and service our buildings before they are built.

This is a summary of a presentation I gave at this year’s Revit Technology Conference in Sydney. It has been well over a year since we moved to Revit MEP and to date, over 18 MEP projects have been documented and issued using Revit MEP in the Arup Melbourne office.

Revit MEP One Year On Lessons Learnt 1

I am an Industrial Designer and when I joined Arup in 2003 the firm had already been doing structures in 3D using Bentley Triforma for a while. After a year or two we were using Autodesk Building Systems our first project being the Australian Synchrotron (above). The next significant project was the Alfred Hospital Intensive Care Unit (below). AutoCAD MEP became our base 3D software, and when we had opportunities we modelled 3D ductwork, pipe work, cable trays & major equipment.

Revit MEP One Year On Lessons Learnt 2

I believe that our industry needs tools like Revit MEP to elevate our deliverables away from 2D black & white drawings. In my presentation outlined where I think we have had success, and where we could still improve for the benefit of the MEP community.

Following are some of the points I made -

What has worked for us as a team
A positive environment is fundamental. Everyone sits together so we can learn from each other. We have fostered a ‘can-do’ attitude and encourage experimentation, and new ways to tackle the old.

Is every project worth doing in Revit?
Yes. Every project you do will build experience & understanding into your team. The only projects I hesitate over are one week turnaround tenancy re-fits which are based on 2D CAD files.
On the other hand, it does not matter if the Architect & Structural Engineer are not using Revit or 3D at all. We have developed workflows where we spent a day or 2 modelling the architecture & structure so we could coordinate with it. We believe it is worth the effort.

Revit MEP One Year On Lessons Learnt 3

Can I use the Revit Model for engineering?
Yes, we do. Don’t get too fussed with Autodesk’s “perfect world” linear design, i.e. using Ecotect, then once the heat loads are established, add ductwork, then flows, etc.etc. Its not realistic!
Typically, we model through Concept/Design Development/Tender/Construction.
At each stage, you can develop your Revit model to reflect the level of detailrequired, adding detail & data as the design matures.

What are some lessons learnt?
Each service gets modelled in its own central model.

Larger multi-storey models can be split into separate level models.

2D & 3D CAD models can be linked via ‘generic families’ into a model. This aids with visibility control & ability to cut sections.

Model, don’t just draw. The only 2D elements should be detail lines within families where a symbol is required.

Tag, don’t type. Use Keynotes for consistency.

Use 3D families for 2D symbols, so that data can be scheduled.

Don’t use worksets like layers; they are designed for sharing elements of a project, not controlling visibility/display of elements.

Do use ‘types’ and filter according to type to display correctly. Then you can also schedule according to types for quantities/cost. Tagging can also use this type data.

What about my lack of Content?
I used to believe Revit MEP’s lack of content was a big hold-up in the implementation of the software. Lesson Learnt: This is not correct. It is a misunderstanding of the Revit modelling process to believe that all content needs to present and correct, before embarking on a project.

How will Revit impact my office and the design process?
Cooperation and collaboration don’t ‘just happen’ between Engineering & Modelling. Foster the relationship so the Engineers can trust the Revit MEP output and can rely on the data.

Revit MEP is not a CAD package. The Revit workflow becomes more interactive, using the gradually evolving Revit Model to inform the Engineers & Architect, in a collaborative way. Feedback is fast, almost instant, rather than waiting for big deadlines. The modeller is able to take more design responsibility, and the engineer works closely with the modeller, handing over design information early, – using rough sketches & discussion to develop the model, and further inform all parties.

The interesting thing is that the Revit Workflow involves TRUST. If your engineering & modelling teams don’t trust each other, trying to model in 3D won’t work that well.

Revit MEP One Year On Lessons Learnt 4

And right now…
After a significant effort, both from the engineers and the modelling team, I feel like our delivery of Revit MEP based documentation is gaining momentum & acceptance as the standard. We have never had to flatten a Revit Model and finish in CAD, which I see as a significant achievement.

The real step forward is when the Revit data is being passed easily back and forth between the engineering & modelling teams, and the model is being developed simultaneously by engineers & modellers. In fact, the real success is when we start forgetting who is the engineer, and who is the modeller, and each team member contributes to the project moving forward.

Revit MEP provides the opportunity & environment for us all to interact internally & externally in such a different way to the past.

The challenge isn’t the modelling, but how we control & develop our data during the design process.

Michael Alder

Melbourne, Australia

“I lead the MEP Modelling group in Melbourne, where we have been modelling using Revit MEP for all projects for 2 years. I see my main challenges as educating those who interact with the models, generating more usable data for all parties and increasing the leverage our models gain during the entire design process.”

View all posts by: Michael Alder