Using APL 2020 and BIM 360 Layout for 4 Challenges in MEP
Written By Carol Dunn
eVolve MEP software for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing with Revit.

If you still take 2D floor plans to the field for layout, your workflow could be so much easier. Since your models are in 3D, wouldn’t it be ideal to take the 3D model to the field? With Autodesk Point Layout (APL) and BIM 360 Layout on your mobile device, you can easily take your model and points to the field and control your robotic total station for layout and quality control.

During the MEP Force breakout session on August 31 at 3:30 pm, “APL 2020 and BIM 360 Layout,” we reviewed BIM 360 Layout workflows. When it comes to layout, there are four main challenges in the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) industry:

  1. Confidence – We need to make sure the layout is accurate and objects in the field are being placed the way they were intended in the model. If objects fit in the model, they should fit in the field.
  2. Accountability – We need to track the work that gets done. Everything needs to be reported.
  3. Speed – A measuring tape and paper drawings make slow work in the field. Even though we’ll always use tape measures, the process needs to be faster with better accuracy.
  4. Accuracy – We want to measure once and measure correctly.

Solutions to those challenges include:

  • APL software – layout, verification, recording as-built conditions.
  • Robotic Total Stations (RTS) – highly accurate, long distance laser measuring devices.
  • BIM 360 Layout – mobile app for tablet, iPAD or Android to take your 3D model to the field and do construction layout.
  • Data collector – a dedicated tablet for 2D construction layout that controls the RTS and is specific to the brand of RTS.

Learn more about BIM 360 tools in the Ultimate Guide to BIM 360 by Applied Software.

The traditional method of doing field layout has involved using rolled paper drawings, measuring tapes and keeping notes in field books. The universal challenge has always been knowing which set of drawings is the latest set. Using 3D models and CAD drawings solves this issue.

There’s also the human error factor to consider. With RTS completing the measurements, human error is eliminated, and activity on the job is automatically tracked for accountability. The process is streamlined.

APL is an add-on to Autodesk Revit, AutoCAD and Navisworks and is designed for subcontractors. Except for the LT version, it works with all versions of AutoCAD, all versions of Revit and Navisworks Manage. Because they are all Autodesk products, a coordinate system exists that can be set up to share points among those programs.  

APL works with all RTS on the market. It’s best to choose an RTS vendor that understands the BIM workflow. Once you’ve got your RTS, choose key users who are interested in this type of work and get them trained. APL training can be done in half a day in the office plus another half day in the field. RTS training, on average, will take a couple of days.

The APL workflow includes:

  • Layout to transfer points from the BIM model to the field. It increases speed and coordination efforts during preconstruction, reducing errors and rework.
  • Quality assurance/quality control to verify the points in the field are in the correct location. It compares points in the field with those in the BIM model, mitigating rework.
  • Records existing as-built conditions onsite. It will import field points to update the Revit model, creating a true as-built deliverable.

In the MEP Force breakout session, there are best practices for using APL and BIM 360 Layout. There is also a demonstration of adding points to the Revit model and component families. You can access the hour-long session on-demand at the MEP Force 2020 Virtual website. 

If you’d like more information about using APL and BIM 360 to streamline your field layout workflow, contact Applied Software today to talk to a BIM expert.

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