CAD Detailers: Why Bother Transitioning to Revit?
Written By Carol Dunn

Making the transition from Autodesk Fabrication CADmep or similar AutoCAD-type software to Revit is a huge undertaking. The cost, training and implementation take serious effort, and it takes a whole new mindset to use Revit. It’s not a change in procedure; it’s an entirely new process. What could make using Revit worth the headaches? Why in the world would a CAD detailer bother transitioning to Revit? As it turns out, there are solid reasons to make the change. 

Your deliverable to the client is required to be developed in Revit.

This is the most basic and compelling reason why companies make the transition. More and more contracts require a complete Revit model be provided to the client upon completion of the project. Some companies try to bounce back and forth between AutoCAD and Revit, trying to produce the required deliverable while avoiding the upheaval of going full-Revit. It’s important to point out here that CADmep has some tools to export into Revit, but not all CADmep components are supported in Revit.  So the conversion process can be an arduous, buggy and time-consuming task. Models might be handed over to clients mostly complete but still missing components in the system or with only graphical representations of objects that didn’t make the proper conversion. The question at this point is not “Why bother,” but “Why not start with the end in mind?” Starting in Revit avoids this mess.

Quality of work life.

Revit provides tools for quality control checks (that we never seem to have time for in CADmep), plus productivity enhancements and quality-of-life improvements not available in AutoCAD-based systems. Parametric modeling is one of them, allowing us to generally draw out the design content with our fabrication parts and then use dimensions and constraints to accurately move our components into the desired locations. No more need to stretch components into place. Constraints allow us to line up our components and maintain these alignments throughout the coordination process. Parts placed in runs can be dragged into place or easily swapped out for other components by picking from a drop-down list.  When deleting fittings that cut into mains (mostly piping), Revit restores the pipe back to its unbroken state without additional work or effort by the user.

Additionally, ensuring that full joints of duct or full lengths of pipe are utilized is accomplished almost automatically with the “optimize lengths” function in Revit.  This allows you to move short pieces of duct up or down the run so they can be absorbed into a fitting (ensuring more full joints of duct).  Optimize lengths means no longer having to QC the piping model for small changes in full pipe lengths and allows us to move cut lengths to the end or beginning of a run.  The feature of dynamic schedules removes the need for hand counting diffusers, VAVs, FCUs and others.  You can easily view or export an up-to-date list of equipment or other components that accurately reflects what you have drawn.  Need a count of left hand or right hand VAVs? When set up correctly, these are no longer time-consuming tasks.

Worksharing controls.

The Revit worksharing model allows us to eliminate problems caused by having our work accidentally overwritten by well-meaning coworkers. Most of us have had that painful moment when we realized someone has overwritten our work while we were working offsite or in locations with poor or no internet. Or maybe the model gets checked out and not returned before traveling off site or working from a remote office. With Revit, depending on your worksharing model setup, coworkers can help you prepare your shop drawings with text and annotation, among other things, without impeding your ability to make last minute changes to the model for that upcoming coordination meeting.

Multiple people can work on different components on the same file, floor and systems simultaneously. No overwriting. Coordination changes are also easier to make in Revit than in an AutoCAD-based process. Moving that main or rack of piping can be done by simply changing a dimension. No more silent groaning in coordination meetings when asked to move an entire pipe rack by a marginal amount that the field would probably have adjusted for anyway. With Revit, the change can often be fixed before the conversation about it is even finished.

Quality publishing and plotting.

Does your team have to go back and make sure all the layers are correctly frozen or set to not plot? Are you a detailer that annotates your drawings with RFI clouds and text explaining the progress or lack of response or direction in an area? Do you dislike the colors or find them hard to see while you draw? Well, none of these are issues in Revit. You can annotate and mark up your views with all your pertinent information; change colors to your personal preferences; work in your views without fear of the wrong notes being published; no reprinting drawings because someone added an additional layer you didn’t intend to plot out. Revit also provides a way to publish all your drawings at once without opening all of them and potentially crashing your computer mid-publish.

Sure, there are growing pains associated with switching to Revit. Change isn’t always easy. But with the right add-ins, for instance eVolve MEP, even issues like visibility, graphics settings, spooling, hangers, renumbering, and point management/exports can be accommodated and handled with ease. If these tasks are pain points for your firm, contact eVolve MEP today for a demo of eVolve Electrical, eVolve Mechanical or eVolve Origin.

Why bother transitioning to Revit? Why in the world haven’t you transitioned already?

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