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January 2015
Progress in
Also in This Issue
• Hidden Gems for Surveyors
• Design-Level BIM
• Transitioning from
AutoCAD to Revit
US $8.00
BIM Construction
by: Tom Fuller
n an effort to provide a higher quality
BIM at the design level, PCI Skanska,
the engineering division of Skanska
USA Civil Midwest, adopted SysQue for Autodesk® Revit® for mechanical and plumbing design modeling. All Revit projects
produced in our office are built on real-world content.
However, given that engineering firms typically do not
specify exact manufacturers for their pipe construction
specifications, but instead provide the requirements to
which the pipe systems must adhere (e.g., ASTM standards, schedule, material, and so on), we discussed with
Industrial Contractors Skanska (the construction portion of Skanska USA Civil Midwest with which we
typically have design-build projects) their preferred pipe
construction specifications.
Essentially, we as engineers need to design and coordinate mechanical systems in a building where the pipe
specification may have real-world implications on installation. Drawing with unrealistic content, or completely different content than what is likely installed,
is a hazard to the project. If we know we want a water
system installed with a grooved pipe specification, why
not match what our sister company will likely install?
Why design and coordinate with fittings that simply
do not exist in the real world? SysQue and Building
Data provide us this solution in the Revit environment
where my team happily and efficiently coexists with our
other in-house architectural, structural, and electrical
design teams.
To begin, I looked at the text version of the various pipe
construction specifications we typically used for our design projects and made changes where the engineering
specifications did not entirely match the construction
preferences. I regrouped the pipe specifications by the
January 2015
Figure 1 33
BIM Construction
2). The written specifications typically found in spec books or on the
first few sheets of drawing packages
are now indexed in a Microsoft Word
file in the same order as the matrix.
Figure 2
pipe construction specification itself rather than the fluid system
type (i.e., butt-welded rather than chilled water supply). Because
Revit allows us to have separate system definitions by fluid type
and design purpose, our Revit pipe types can be based on the actual pipe construction specification rather than the fluid within the
pipe. One Revit pipe type is available for multiple system types,
rather than having a different pipe type for every system type. This
reorganization also assists designers and engineers with choosing
appropriate pipe construction specifications by seeing where each
specification is applicable. Once I created the matrix of pipe construction types with available fluid design purpose (see Figure 1),
I organized the written specifications by this new index (Figure
Next I had to choose real-world content for our Revit projects. To populate our SysQue “Systems.xml” file,
I created a tabbed Microsoft Excel
file (Figure 3) detailing each pipe
construction specification’s key components such as pipe type, fittings,
valves, flanges, unions, and so on. I
chose a specific manufacturer and
model number for every component
listed in our text-based specs in consultation with our construction estimators. Armed with the Excel file, I
looked at the default SysQue “Systems.xml” file and using Microsoft Visual Studio Express 2013
for Windows, I began cutting, pasting, renaming, and rearranging
the default build to suit my new organized and indexed pipe construction specifications (Figure 4). Where the default arrangement
of components did not match my needs, I used SysQue’s built-in
method of adding content to my “System.xml” file (see Figure 5).
Where content was not available as part of the initial install, I used to download the remaining Revit families
(Figure 6). If I came across a key component for our pipe specifications that was not available, I requested that the Revit content be
created by Building Data by submitting a manufacturer’s submittal
sheet through the website.
Figure 3
Figure 4
January 2015
What began as an engineering firm choosing pipe specifications
based on someone’s idea of what it should/could be and a construction firm installing pipe types that are a better value to the
client, ended as a design-to-construction process. The process was
built on installed components matching designed components
where the designed components were modeled by knowing what
the preferred installed components would be. Our Revit pipe types
have an indexed system family name that coincides with our pipe
specification text (see Figures 7 and 8).
BIM Construction
Figure 5
Figure 8
Figure 6
Figure 7
January 2015
Tom Fuller is a mechanical designer with
PCI Skanska, part of Skanska USA
Civil Midwest. Tom has brought his
skills acquired from ten years as part of
SMWIA Local 20 to the engineering
side of the construction industry. His
first job involving BIM was a hospital
tower expansion using CADmep and
CAMduct in 2009 and has experience
in complete shop database setup. Tom
now uses his trade skills to create more
accurate construction documents and
building models at the engineering/
design level. Initially utilizing CADmep
on the engineering side, Tom has since
switched to Revit with SysQue content
to facilitate a more cohesive design
environment without sacrificing the need
for constructible models. 35
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