Increasing Autodesk Revit Productivity for BIM Projects

By Fabio Roberti , Decio Ferreira
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  1. Chapter 1: Introduction to Productivity in Revit

About this book

Revit software helps architects, BIM coordinators, and BIM managers to create BIM models and analyze data to improve design and construction. Building Information Modeling (BIM) has promoted a transformation in the engineering and construction industries where information is at the core of a methodology that improves productivity, providing several benefits in comparison to the traditional 2D CAD process. This book takes a hands-on approach to implementing this new methodology effectively.

Complete with step-by-step explanations of essential concepts and practical examples, this Revit book begins by explaining the principles of productivity in Revit and data management for BIM projects. You'll get to grips with the primary BIM documentation to start a BIM project, including the contract, Exchange Information Requirements (EIR), and BIM Execution Plan (BEP/BXP). Later, you'll create a Revit template, start a Revit project, and explore the core functionalities of Revit to increase productivity. Once you've built the foundation, you'll learn about Revit plugins and use Dynamo for visual programming and Power BI for analyzing BIM information.

By the end of this book, you'll have a solid understanding of Revit as construction and design software, how to increase productivity in Revit, and how to apply multiple workflows in your project to manage BIM.

Publication date:
June 2021
Publisher
Packt
Pages
492
ISBN
9781800566804

 

Chapter 1: Introduction to Productivity in Revit

We are living in the Information Age (also known as the Digital Age), and digital transformation is changing businesses and people by encouraging them to rapidly adopt new technologies and processes.

Revit is an authoring software tool that is used for Building Information Modeling (BIM); here, the most valuable asset is the information you add to the Revit model.

Information is KING; however, managing information and knowledge is POWER!

You might already be familiar with Revit, but the combination of information management principles along with the best Revit practices can create a powerful combination to improve your productivity in BIM projects.

This chapter will provide you with knowledge of how to improve Revit productivity and also increase your performance when working with BIM projects from smaller to larger scales.

We will also explain the importance of selecting the right tool for the task that you need to perform, cover the best practices of BIM implementation, and provide a strategy of how to for creating a training scheme for your company.

In this chapter, we will cover the following topics:

  • What you should know about Revit productivity
  • Choosing the right tool
  • An overview of the Revit implementation
  • The Revit training scheme
 

What you should know about Revit productivity

Productivity in business is a significant factor when it comes to the performance of a company, and increasing productivity is the process of working smarter in a predefined time frame to match your project deadline.

It is essential to define productivity and gain a better understanding of how you can measure it in your daily activities when working on multiple tasks and utilizing Autodesk Revit, too.

Productivity can be defined as a process to measure a production against efficiency and convert inputs into outputs. This process applies to a machine, factory, or a person, where the results can help companies to take operations-based and investment decisions.

There are multiple methodologies that you can use to measure productivity; the basic formula is output divided by input, which is equal to productivity:

Output ÷ Input = Productivity

The methodologies used to measure productivity depend on which sector your company is involved in, and we have listed a few examples next.

Here are some productivity methodologies:

  • Time management
  • Tasks completed by the workforce
  • Personal performance
  • The ratio to manufacture a product

We are going the explore the time management methodology to improve productivity and performance when working with Revit. You can use these principles in any task that involves digital production.

The critical factor when it comes to improving productivity is to have quality and precise inputs producing your model and sheets before you start to work in Revit.

You may be quick when it comes to completing a specific task in Revit, but without quality inputs, there is a risk that you will have to redo the work, which will reduce the overall productivity.

Our time management methodology to improve productivity in Revit is based on quality inputs for digital production. This methodology will allow you to be more efficient in Revit and become a team player who meets every single project deadline.

The first step in this methodology is to research quality inputs. These can come from your company, coworkers, multiple companies within your project, and, ultimately, the client who is the main stakeholder.

Once you have established your quality inputs, you can start working in Revit to produce your model and drawings. The following examples will help us to demonstrate this process.

Example 1: Setting up a Revit project

In this example, the BIM Execution Plan (BEP) defines the quality inputs. However, often, the information required to set up the project is not fully available, and you will need to research quality inputs.

The quality inputs for this example are the naming standards, project standards, collaboration standards, survey strategy, volume strategy, software versions, exchange formats, the level of information need, BIM deliverables, the Common Data Environment (CDE), the project location, coordinates, levels, and grids.

Changes in the project number are a common issue in many projects, and by using this methodology, you will need to request this information from your project lead and a confirmation from your client before setting up the Revit files. The project number should be defined clearly in the BEP with the client's approval to avoid any changes during the design and construction phases.

Managing information to work smarter is a fundamental part of our methodology, and if you combine this with Revit's best practices, it can take you to the next level of productivity.

A simple change in the project number can affect the productivity of multiple coworkers from different areas, such as the document controller, information manager, and the commercial and legal departments.

Note that the legacy information from previous drawings will be affected; it will lose its connection to the new drawings because of the new project number.

In this example, you can see the importance of having the correct information at the right time, and it needs to be confirmed by the main stakeholder or client.

Example 2: Defining the room numbering system

In this example, the client needs to approve the room numbering system, which also needs to be aligned with the facility management system to guarantee a continuous flow of data.

By using this methodology, you can reduce the chances that the room numbering system will be changed in the future, which ultimately improves your and your team's productivity.

If you are familiar with Dynamo as a visual programming tool for Revit, you might suggest using Dynamo to rename all of the rooms in your project quickly. Yes, Dynamo can rename the room quickly. Our methodology uses the principle that you should get it right the first time, so you don't need to rework and use Dynamo to rename the room because it was agreed at the beginning of the process.

In this example, you can improve your productivity by avoiding having to redo the work twice and wasting time with tasks that can be easily agreed upon at the beginning of the project.

Example 3: Training versus productivity

Some projects start with a design team without the required knowledge of specific software, which will slow down productivity.

Revit training is essential to increase productivity, but the time to provide or receive training needs to be adjusted.

Designers will benefit if the training is delivered just days before starting the project because the computational knowledge needs to be fresh. Otherwise, a designer will only retain the main points over a period of time.

The trainer needs quality information about when the projects are starting to be able to define the best time frame to provide training.

By using this process, the Revit trainer will note a reduction of requests to reattend the training, which will demonstrate the effectiveness of the training and their productivity in providing the training.

Revit is an intuitive software in which designers can learn the basic commands quickly, and it benefits the company strategy to switch platforms or provide training for new staff.

The following graph shows the benefits of investing in training for quick project implementation, and it will reflect a reduction in the amount of time needed to achieve the Return on Investment (ROI). Overall, it will lead to the improvement of team productivity in Revit and BIM:

Figure 1.1 – Investment in training

Figure 1.1 – Investment in training

Another common issue is when a team member does not have time to attend the Revit training, or they decide to learn Revit on a live project. This process will give you the false feeling that these team members are ready to work in Revit, and the optimal level of productivity will take longer to achieve.

In this situation, the trainer needs to provide short slots of training to improve their Revit knowledge and avoid mistakes on the project.

In this example, providing training at the right time improves productivity and reduces the time to reach the ROI.

Example 4: Revit versus 2D CAD – productivity

BIM has promoted a transformation in the Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Owner Operator (AECOO) industry, where information is the core of a methodology that improves productivity and brings many benefits when compared with the traditional 2D CAD process.

Revit is information-centric in that it offers multiple advantages compared to traditional 2D CAD, and we can easily measure a significant increase in productivity.

BIM platforms, such as Revit, give us federated information, which means quality data that can be applied for multiple uses, and this is part of our methodology to work with quality data.

Of course, that all depends on the designer using the correct input information and modeling in 3D precisely to optimize the analysis benefits.

In this example, we can understand the increase in productivity when switching from 2D CAD to Revit, but quality information is paramount to improve productivity.

Example 5: Planning your work in Revit

Time management principles focus on the process of planning your work before starting a task, and it is not very different when you work in Revit by yourself or when working in a large design team.

Your productivity will increase if you plan your task prior to modeling and search for quality information to avoid any rework.

During this process, you can select activities that will have a high impact on your task and consider other activities that can be postponed.

The following graph shows the process to prioritize tasks that will have a high impact on the project:

Figure 1.2 – Effort versus Impact

Figure 1.2 – Effort versus Impact

For this example, we will utilize a process to create a door schedule that has many activities to check and collect quality information.

High impact

Do the following:

  • Use a door numbering system that has been approved by the client.
  • List the fire door rating.
  • Decide which fields will be included in the door schedule.
  • Check the structural opening.
  • Check whether the door parameters are reporting the correct data.

Plan the following:

  • Check whether the doorframe dimension is correct.
  • Check that the family name is the same as the project standard.

Low impact

Consider the following:

  • Depending on the project stage, the door material can be generic.
  • Depending on the project stage, check the door tolerances.

Drop the following:

  • Depending on the project stage and scope of work, team members could postpone their selection of the ironmongery set.
  • Check the gap between the door panel and the floor.

In this example, we can use time management principles in the Revit modeling process to improve productivity and define the priorities that will have a high impact on the project.

Following our methodology, time management processes with quality information will provide a jump in the efficiency of your work.

We have reached the end of our examples to define the importance of research and get quality information before doing a task. We have learned how to avoid proceeding based on the immediately available data, which may not be 100 percent reliable or complete.

There are other technical factors in Revit that can help you to improve productivity and make your work more efficient. Let's explore them in the next section.

Computer maintenance

It is essential to do some housekeeping in order to get the best Revit performance possible. We recommend that you perform the following steps on a fortnightly basis.

Revit local files

When working on a worksharing environment, Revit will automatically create local files on the user's computers in the Documents folder. This process will make the Revit local file (that is, the work-in-progress file) a copy of the Revit central file with the addition of your name in the filename.

The objective of this process is to remove the local files in order to provide more space on your C:\ drive and consequently improve performance:

Figure 1.3 – The Revit local file

Figure 1.3 – The Revit local file

These file and folder locations are defined under Revit Options:

  1. In the upper-left corner, click on File | Options:
    Figure 1.4 – Revit Options

    Figure 1.4 – Revit Options

  2. From the left-hand menu, click on File Locations:
    Figure 1.5 – Default path for Revit local files

    Figure 1.5 – Default path for Revit local files

  3. Underneath Default path for user files is where Revit saves the local files and folders.

It's recommended that you delete any files that are older than two months.

To improve this process, it's recommended that you create a folder called Revit_20XX_Local_Files (where 20XX is the Revit version), so the Revit files will not mix with any other files located in the Documents folder:

C:\Users\<username>\Documents\ Revit_20XX_Local_Files\

Figure 1.6 – The path for Revit local files

Figure 1.6 – The path for Revit local files

Tip

The location might differ depending on the Revit Options you have set. This information will be saved in the Revit.ini file and used for future Revit sessions.

Temporary Windows files

Applications that are being used by the user normally create temporary files and often. Therefore, users should delete them on a regular basis.

Before running this process, make sure that all Revit sessions are closed.

To access this folder, perform the following steps:

  1. Open Windows Explorer.
  2. In the top bar address, type in %temp% and press Enter:
    Figure 1.7 – Temporary Windows files location

    Figure 1.7 – Temporary Windows files location

  3. Select all of the files and click on Delete. If a warning window pops up, ignore all of the read-only files (these are being used by the applications and cannot be deleted at that moment).

Disk cleanup

Another task that users should be running is the Disk Cleanup tool. This tool will also delete files that are no longer needed.

To access this tool, perform the following steps:

  1. In the Windows search bar, type in disk cleanup.
  2. From the list, select the tool you need:
    Figure 1.8 – Disk Cleanup

    Figure 1.8 – Disk Cleanup

  3. From the list, select which files you want to delete:
    Figure 1.9 – Clean up system files

    Figure 1.9 – Clean up system files

  4. Click on the Clean up system files button to start the deletion process.
  5. When the process has finished, click on OK.

Restarting Revit

If users experience a decrease in performance after carrying out high-demanding tasks (such as exporting, printing, rendering, or upgrading models), Revit should be restarted.

This will allow all of the data cached in memory and on the hard disk to be deleted.

Restarting Windows

Following on from what we mentioned earlier about restarting Revit, the same should also be done with Windows. This suggestion depends on how many applications the user has been working on.

Tip

We recommend that users should restart their computers every day, or at least every other day, to allow the system to clean up, get rid of temporary files, and update itself.

Always use the same Revit update release

Quite often, Autodesk deploys new update releases with some new features and bug fixes.

It is essential to make sure that when working on a project with other team members, everyone has the same update release to avoid any potential software issues.

Tip

In the same Revit version – Revit 2021, for example – we can have different update releases, such as the following:

Revit 2021.1.1 – Release Date: 18-Sept-2020

Revit 2021.1 – Release Date: 22-July-2020

To confirm which Revit update release you have installed, please start Revit.

After Revit has opened, follow this step-by-step guide:

  1. In the upper-right corner, click on the small dark arrow close to the Help menu:
    Figure 1.10 – Accessing Revit Help

    Figure 1.10 – Accessing Revit Help

  2. Click on the About Autodesk Revit 2021.1.1 option:
    Figure 1.11 – Revit version release information

    Figure 1.11 – Revit version release information

    Tip

    The version available varies depending on which Revit version you have installed on the user's computers.

  3. On the right-hand side, it is possible to confirm which Revit release is installed:
Figure 1.12 – Revit release: full description

Figure 1.12 – Revit release: full description

It is recommended that you keep Revit updated; however, before the deployment, make sure that the version you are about to install is stable enough.

You can find and download the latest updates from the following locations:

  • The Autodesk Manage Account portal:
Figure 1.13 – The Autodesk Manage Account portal

Figure 1.13 – The Autodesk Manage Account portal

  • The Autodesk Desktop App:

Figure 1.14 – Autodesk Desktop App

Figure 1.14 – Autodesk Desktop App

Tip

It is not recommended that you update the Revit release immediately after the new version is rolled out.

Revit's recommended settings

Revit is a high-demanding software in terms of using up computer resources. It is highly recommended that you keep the settings as least demanding as possible. We will only highlight a few recommendations, but others might also apply, depending on which discipline it is or even the task you want to do.

The following is accessible through the Revit Options button:

Figure 1.15 – Revit Options

Figure 1.15 – Revit Options

  • User Interface | Tools and analyses

    It is recommended that you switch off all the analysis tools that you don't need to use. By accessing the User Interface menu, you can untick all of the unnecessary ones:

Figure 1.16 – The Tools and analyses options

Figure 1.16 – The Tools and analyses options

  • Hardware | Hardware setup

    Under the Hardware menu, make sure that the Use hardware acceleration (Direct3D®) and Draw visible elements only options are ticked.

This helps when navigating through the model, as all hidden elements will be ignored during the navigation, which will improve performance:

Figure 1.17 – Draw visible elements only

Figure 1.17 – Draw visible elements only

Tip

This hardware acceleration feature should be disabled when navigating through a view, when users are experiencing graphics-related issues, or when this feature is incompatible with the graphics card.

File size

A Revit file size doesn't depend only on the project size but on many other factors too, such as the geometry complexity, file formats imported, amount of families imported, and any warnings.

Auditing the models every week will help to keep the model both in a workable condition and healthy without affecting or reducing the Revit performance.

As a reference, and depending on your computer's specifications, Revit models should not be bigger than 300 MB.

If the file needs to be bigger, users must decide whether it should be kept as a single model/volume, or if the model segregation and model volume breakdown should be reviewed.

For a federated model (that is, files with multiple links), the recommended maximum file size is approximately 500 MB.

Tip

As a good practice, both project and family files should be purged to reduce the file size by deleting any unwanted or unused elements and settings.

Family creation

Family creation is one of the big topics when it comes to performance, as the more complex we develop them (for instance, with multiple formulas, over-modeling, nested families, arrays, voids, or overconstrained with parameters), the bigger the file becomes.

When creating families, users should bear the following in mind:

  • Standard families should be used instead of model in-place families (especially when they will be repeated).
  • Nested families must be limited to a certain level – they should be kept to one nest level, if possible.
  • When downloading families from websites or suppliers, make sure they are not over-modeled and that they are using native geometries (by using different CAD formats imported, or over-modeled geometry, it will affect the model performance significantly).
  • Families that cut hosts will consume computing resources when compared to a typical family (that doesn't cut any hosts).

When creating a family, users should take the following into consideration:

  • A Revit family file between 250 KB and 500 KB indicates a suitable file size.
  • A Revit family file over 1 MB = 1000 KB should be reviewed to reduce the size if possible.
  • A Revit family file over 2 MB = 2000 KB should definitely be reviewed.
  • A nested family file size tends to be bigger, so we need to check the larger family files. We do not recommend you to have more than two levels of nested families.

    Tip

    Before saving your family file, use the Purge command to reduce the file size and delete any unused objects.

Model groups

Revit Groups is a feature that keeps and maintains consistency among repeated elements in a project and facilitates different design interactions.

Nevertheless, there are a few topics that should be taken into consideration when working with groups:

  • Hosted elements: Users should avoid creating groups with hosted elements (such as doors) without the host element included (that is, the wall that hosts the door).
  • Nested groups: Users should avoid creating groups within other groups as they might become unmanageable and unstable.
  • Datum objects: Users should avoid adding datum elements (such as levels and grids) inside a group.
  • Mirroring and rotating: Users should avoid rotating and/or mirroring groups. As a best practice, it should be considered to model different groups that would cover other mirroring options.
  • The excluding elements option: Users should use the Exclude Members feature for minor exclusion.
  • Design options: Users should avoid using groups in design options.
  • Levels constraints: Users should not constrain elements to levels (for example, a top constraint of a wall).
  • System families: Users should avoid using system families in groups as they are constrained to a specific level. When copied to different levels, the first level reference will be kept, and any further editing will get more complicated (remember that the further we are from the reference level, the lower the performance we will get).
  • Worksets: On a worksharing project, when creating a group with elements from different worksets, Revit will ignore the existing worksets and will include all elements in the current workset when creating the group – this workset cannot be edited.
  • Links: Users should not add Revit links to a group as it will be duplicated and, consequently, affect performance.

In-place families

In-place families are bespoke families that users can create within a project context. They should not be used in a project because they will reduce performance and a standard family (that is, a loadable family) can cover most situations:

Figure 1.18 – Model In-Place families

Figure 1.18 – Model In-Place families

If users create an in-place family to be used more than once, they should use the standard family (the loadable family). This is because if an in-place family is copied across, Revit will deal with these instances as different families. This will duplicate the family multiple times, which will affect the performance:

Figure 1.19 – Duplicated In-Place families

Figure 1.19 – Duplicated In-Place families

Arrays

When using arrays to copy elements, users should decide whether elements should be kept grouped or not grouped, as this will affect the performance as well. Groups should be kept as minimally associated as possible. Otherwise, they should be ungrouped:

Figure 1.20 – Creating groups within the Array tool

Figure 1.20 – Creating groups within the Array tool

Constraints

Using Constraints will affect model the performance. They should be used sparingly across the project.

Constraints can include the following:

  • Join geometry constraints
  • Dimensional constraints
  • Lock alignment constraints

When using these constraints, bear in mind that it is almost impossible to see where they are as they can be placed in any view.

Revit has, underneath the View Control bar, the Reveal Constraints tool, which allows you to check dimensional and locked alignment constraints by adding a kind of "filter" on top of the view. When using the tool, Revit will apply a garnet border to wrap the view, and all constraints will be highlighted in the same color:

Figure 1.21 – Reveal model constraints

Figure 1.21 – Reveal model constraints

When using a worksharing environment

Worksharing is a working method in Revit that allows team members to work on the same model at the same time:

Figure 1.22 – A worksharing environment

Figure 1.22 – A worksharing environment

In this working methodology, Revit needs to work with worksets to accommodate such environments.

There are a few native tools in Revit related to the worksharing method that require an in-depth understanding, and we will be covering them in the upcoming chapters of this book.

Worksets are crucial during this working method, as users can keep ownership of the elements and/or views. Typically, users will be assigned to specific areas of the project or even to a specific functional area to work on.

Based on this process of managing elements or parts of the project, Revit allows users to open/close worksets not only when opening the file, but also when working in views. Therefore, Revit will become faster as if we have worksets switched off, it doesn't need to process all information when working in the model.

Recommendations can be followed, but we believe that communication is the way to succeed. It is important to keep all team members informed about what is happening in the design process and how it might affect model organization and even the workset structure.

Tip

There are several tools that you can use to enhance team collaboration and communication, such as Skype, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft OneNote, Microsoft Planner, Slack, and more.

Opening a worksharing model

When opening a worksharing model, Revit allows users to select which worksets should be open. If you close a workset that is not required, Revit will open the file faster and, consequently, improve performance. The closed worksets will not be visible, so you can keep only the information that you need open.

To select which worksets users can open or close, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the File menu, select Open, and then click Project.
  2. Select the Revit Central model to open.
  3. On the right-hand side of the Open button, click on the drop-down arrow and select Specify…:
    Figure 1.23 – Specifying which worksets to open

    Figure 1.23 – Specifying which worksets to open

  4. An Opening Worksets window pops up. By selecting particular worksets, it's possible to Open/Close them as needed by clicking on the Open and/or Close buttons:
    Figure 1.24 – The Opening Worksets window

    Figure 1.24 – The Opening Worksets window

  5. Click on OK and Revit will open the model only with the elements within the opened workset.

    Tip

    This process can be reverted at any time without closing the file by switching between open and closed worksets.

Not only the file will open more quickly, but when navigating through the model, opening views, and even synchronizing with the central model, everything will be quicker than if all of the models and worksets are loaded.

As a good practice, whenever a design team is working on a multidisciplinary project, it's highly recommended that you use a separate workset for each link, no matter if it is a Revit link or a CAD link. With this process, it's easier to switch off any unrequired links when opening the file.

Tip

When working in a worksharing environment, users should not double-click on the file to open it. Users need to use always the Open tool to create the local file.

Working with an opened workset

If, in a specific view, there is no need to have all of the worksets opened, it's highly recommended that you turn them off as it affects the view processing as well. It is possible to change the workset's visibility when the workset is open in the model.

Tip

Users will only be able to change a workset's visibility if the workset is open in the Revit session. If the workset is not loaded (that is, open), it needs to be switched to Open. Afterward, the workset visibility can be edited in a specific view.

To select which worksets users can change the visibility of in a view, follow these steps:

  1. Open the view in which you want to change the workset's visibility.
  2. Underneath Properties, click on Visibility/Graphics Override (this can also be shortened to VV or VG):
    Figure 1.25 – Visibility/Graphics Overrides

    Figure 1.25 – Visibility/Graphics Overrides

  3. Underneath the Worksets tabs, change the Visibility Setting accordingly:
    Figure 1.26 – Controlling a workset's visibility in a view

    Figure 1.26 – Controlling a workset's visibility in a view

    There are three options available:

    Show: Here, the workset will be visible in the current view.

    Hide: Here, the workset will be invisible in the current view.

    Use Global Settings (Visible): Here, workset visibility will depend on whether the workset is defined to be visible in all views or not.

  4. Click on OK.

If there is a workset that is closed in all models, it's possible to confirm this from the Visibility/Graphics Overrides window. The asterisk (*) tells you how to switch the workset to Open:

Figure 1.27 – Closed worksets

Figure 1.27 – Closed worksets

Worksharing Monitor

When working within a worksharing environment, it is crucial to know who is working in a file. The Worksharing Monitor will inform you of the following:

  • Who has the model open: Depending on the number of team members working in the same file, this affects the model's performance.
  • Who is synchronizing: This will inform you who is synchronizing, and you can wait until this person finishes the process.
  • Who is working directly in the central file: If someone is working directly in the central file, the person needs to close the file immediately without saving.

To access the Worksharing Monitor tool, follow these steps:

  1. Underneath Collaborate, click on the Worksharing Monitor tool:
    Figure 1.28 – The Worksharing Monitor tool

    Figure 1.28 – The Worksharing Monitor tool

  2. A new window will open, as shown in the following screenshot:
Figure 1.29 – Identifying users in the model with Worksharing Monitor

Figure 1.29 – Identifying users in the model with Worksharing Monitor

Splash screen

By using a 2D view for a splash view, you will improve performance when opening the model, as Revit doesn't need to regenerate the entire project. The Starting View tool can be defined under Manage | Starting View:

Figure 1.30 – The Starting View tool

Figure 1.30 – The Starting View tool

Tip

In the splash screen, you can retrieve project information, model issue dates, model coordinates, and the disclaimer note.

To conclude, we have learned about the importance of Revit productivity and or researching for quality information. By following the Revit recommended settings, you will improve the efficiency and productivity of your project.

In the next section, we will learn how to choose the correct hardware specification to improve Revit's performance.

 

Choosing the right tool

Another exciting aspect of productivity is the process to select the right tool to perform a specific task.

During the concept, design, and construction stages, the design team has a wide range of applications to choose from. Before selecting the tools, we have to take into consideration the team experience and the training strategy.

It is fundamental to mention that BIM is not Revit, and Revit is just an application that is used for authoring BIM models; there are multiple applications within the BIM process.

The following diagram shows the complexity of some BIM applications that are available on the market to manage data and models:

Figure 1.31 – Multiple BIM applications

Figure 1.31 – Multiple BIM applications

Depending on your project size, Revit will demand more computer resources to manage larger models, and it is essential that you understand how to select the correct hardware.

Productivity can be directly affected if you don't have the correct hardware or if your company is not providing the optimal infrastructure for the design team.

Based on the project's requirements, users need to be able to understand the hardware specification and select the best workstations for Revit.

What is the best workstation for Revit?

There are many workstations options available on the market, and it can be challenging to find the best workstation for Autodesk Revit.

Computer requirements need to be defined based on the user's needs, such as the model complexity, rendering options, and the ability to collaborate with multiple files.

This guide will help you to define these requirements and select the best workstation for Revit.

The following five key points must be taken into consideration during your research to define your Revit workstation:

  • Desktop or laptop?
  • A fast processor
  • The best graphics card
  • Computer memory (RAM)
  • A fast hard drive

Desktop or laptop?

Desktops tend to be faster than laptops with similar parts, and the average lifespan is longer for desktops. The upgrade process of desktop parts is more straightforward than laptops, and it can extend the overall lifespan of multiple components.

Desktops are usually easy to customize, and the benefit of this is that you can add high-end components to them, such as a graphics card to improve visualization. In laptops, the options to upgrade are more limited.

On the other hand, laptops are portable and very useful for meetings and client presentations.

A fast processor

Revit is primarily a single-threaded software, which means that a faster processor is better for Revit performance. There are operations in Revit that are multithreaded, so Revit can use multiple processors and multiple core processors for the following processes in Revit 2021:

  • Printing in vectors and exporting DWG and DWF files
  • Ray tracing
  • Representation in plan and section views for wall joins
  • The process to load elements into memory to reduce opening times
  • The calculation of silhouette edges during navigation in perspective 3D views
  • Graphical representations when opening views or updating view properties
  • Saving and opening files
  • The display of point cloud data
  • Exporting DWF as single sheets
  • Calculations of MEP systems running in the background
  • Materials UI
  • Color fill calculations
  • The structural connection geometry running in the background on another process

Currently, these are the most common options for processor types:

  • Intel Xeon
  • Intel (i) series i5, i7, i9, and i10
  • AMD Ryzen

Processor Intel Xeon

Intel Xeon is used primarily for business workstations or servers, and the CPUs, typically, have more cores than the Intel (i) series. Additionally, the clock speed is a little inferior if you compare it with an Intel (i) series such as i7 or i9.

It has good durability and resilience, which makes this processor a good option for architectural and engineering companies to work with multiple applications. Usually, the Intel Xeon is more expensive than the Intel (i) series.

Intel (i) series i3, i5, i7, i9, and i10

The Intel (i) series is usually preferred for personal computers, and the processor cost is inferior if you compare it with Intel Xeon.

The excellent point about the Intel (i) series is that the processor clock speed is typically faster per core than the Intel Xeon, so it brings advantages to Revit's performance.

Revit's performance improves with processors that have high clock speed per core, which means that the multicore processor will not necessarily enhance performance, as Revit is not completely a multithreaded software.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper processor

The AMD Ryzen Threadripper processor is an option if you want to reduce costs, and it can provide good performance in Revit. With the same process as earlier, you will need to check the clock speed and the maximum turbo speed.

Maximum turbo frequency (GHz)

Currently, most companies are using Intel technology for Revit workstations, and the process to select the best processor for Revit is based on the highest frequency (GHz), which is the processor speed.

The key point when it comes to selecting the right processor is to check the highest frequency (GHz) that can maximize Revit's performance. You need to consider two aspects, as follows:

  • The processor base frequency (GHz)
  • The processor maximum turbo frequency (GHz)

In simple terms, the processor base frequency (GHz) is the base speed, and the maximum turbo frequency (GHz) is the highest processor speed.

As an example, we will analyze the Intel® Core™ i9-10900X X-series processor.

You can access the processor specification at the following link. Alternatively, you can use a mobile camera to scan the following QR code.

Here is the link: https://intel.ly/2HhqjAV

Here is the QR code:

In the processor specification, you can identify the processor base frequency and the maximum turbo frequency:

Figure 1.32 – Identifying the processor speeds

Figure 1.32 – Identifying the processor speeds

In your research, you should select the processor with the highest maximum turbo frequency. This is the winner and will provide optimum performance in Revit.

Tip

Use the processor name to find full specifications online, for example, i9-10900X X-series.

The best graphics card

Autodesk Revit can create rendering images and videos, but companies are also using multiple plugins to enhance the rendering quality and speed. The main issue with Revit is the rendering time, which is often too long when rendering images.

Revit plugins, such as Enscape, Twinmotion, Lumion, and V-Ray, take advantage of Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) rendering technology, which requires a powerful graphics card from NVIDIA or AMD.

Using the GPU can lower the rendering time, and plugins, such as Enscape, can deliver an excellent rendering quality quickly (for instance, less than 1 minute).

You can view an example of an Enscape 360° image from the following link:

https://bit.ly/35T3FYr

Alternatively, you can scan the QR code here:

Many Revit workstations have graphics card from NVIDIA, and these are divided into two types:

  • NVIDIA Quadro or NVIDIA Quadro RTX
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX or RTX

Usually, the NVIDIA Quadro series is more expensive than the NVIDIA GeForce series based on resilience and durability.

The NVIDIA RTX technology is the latest development that improves real-time ray tracing, and it will provide detailed lighting effects and better performance in your rendering.

On this website, you can compare multiple graphics cards and compare the cost benefit:

https://gpu.userbenchmark.com/

For optimal performance and efficiency, the graphics card should have a minimum of 4 GB dedicated memory or RAM.

Tip

Always check whether you are using the latest available drivers for your graphics card.

Computer memory (RAM)

Depending on your project requirements, we recommend 16 GB of system memory for light users, 32 GB for average users, and 64 GB for users with large projects and everyday use.

The cost of memory (RAM) is declining, and if you can afford 64 GB of memory (RAM), it is recommended. In medium and large organizations, 64 GB is the minimum requirement.

Computer memory (RAM) will improve Revit's performance as it maintains model data in the memory.

Tip

It is recommended that you restart the computer and Revit often; this will refresh the memory (RAM). Frequently, users who keep Revit open for days will experience decreasing performance.

A fast hard drive

A Solid State Drive (SSD) provides better performance in Revit, and it allows your computer to boot, start applications, and load files many times quicker than a traditional hard drive.

Designers often use multiple applications, such as Revit, AutoCAD, Rhino, Navisworks, or Adobe Suite, and various plugins that can take up a large amount of space in the hard drive.

The recommended SSD should have a minimum of 500 GB.

If there is not enough space to cache Revit processes, slower performance will occur.

Tip

Always keep a minimum of 30 GB of free space in the hard drive.

It is essential to have the correct software and hardware to improve performance in Revit, and the preceding information will enable you to select the best workstation to maximize performance in Revit.

In the next section, we will learn about successful strategies for BIM implementation.

 

Overview of BIM implementation

BIM is a process that many companies have already implemented, but it is valuable to have an overview of successful strategies.

The BIM maturity level is critical to analyze the company implementation and its capability to deliver a BIM project.

The BIM implementation does not stop with a couple of projects, but it is a process that requires regular maintenance and continued development.

The continuous development will create foundations to increase the maturity level of your organization, and it goes through multiple departments such as the commercial departments, which will analyze contracts and appointments.

Tip

Successful strategies take the overall company culture into consideration and create a strategic plan that is driven from the top-down and involves directors in the decision to implement BIM.

Successful BIM implementations share these 10 crucial steps:

  1. Involve directors in the decision to implement BIM with words and actions. Implementation starts from the top down!
  2. Create a group of people to define the implementation process and the overall BIM strategy, which must include multiple departments.
  3. Remember that the ultimate goal is for better information management.
  4. Create a small team to work on the first project.
  5. Create or adapt your company standards to the local BIM regulations and ISO standards.
  6. Define the software you will use and support. Understand the investments required, including human resources, to implement new technologies.
  7. Train and develop your team. Develop some people to be "champions" to help other people in the company.
  8. Improve the BIM process over time and don't focus on technology.
  9. Set realistic goals because the benefits of BIM are well documented; however, you need to invest time and effort to realize the true potential for your organization.
  10. Always remember that information management is the most important aspect of the BIM process.

During the BIM implementation, the organization can create specific areas for future developments and support the process to increase the BIM maturity level.

Areas for continued development include the following:

  • Company and industry standards, methods, and procedures
  • Training
  • The management of digital assets – Revit families, AutoCAD blocks, and other files
  • Productivity and data analysis

These four areas should be in continuous development to bring innovation to and increase productivity in your organization.

Many medium and large companies have staff in-house with programming capabilities to increase productivity and customize tools to create new workflows.

If you wish to learn programming to apply in the architectural and engineering teams, we recommend Dynamo, Grasshopper, Python, and C#.

Programming skills can open doors in a professional career and expand your design capabilities to get you ahead of the competition.

Additionally, there are seven other points that you need to dedicate your attention to during the BIM implementation process:

  1. Create a BEP template that you will use to respond to the client's requirements for BIM.
  2. Define your company's standard deliverables for BIM according to your local framework, such as the UK BIM Framework.

    The UK BIM Framework reference can be found here:

    https://ukbimframework.org/standards-guidance/

    Scan the QR code with your mobile camera to access the preceding link:

  3. Define the Level of Information Need for BIM projects.

    The Level of Information Need lists the geometric and data requirements of BIM components and the project prerequisites. These requirements should be defined according to their purpose in order to bring value to the project.

    In the UK, the previous terminology defined in the PAS_1192_2_2013 was Level of Model Definition/Level of Detail (LOD)/Level of Information (LOI). The UK is currently using Level of Information Need, which is defined in the ISO 19650 series.

    In the US, the BIMForum publishes the Level of Development (LOD).

    Here is the link to the BIMForum website: https://bimforum.org/LOD.

    You can scan the following QR code with your mobile camera to access the preceding link:

  4. Define the typical BIM deliverables and model purpose that you will use as a standard in multiple projects.
  5. Write content to answer the pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) to be used during the bid process to define your company's level of experience and capacity to deliver BIM projects.
  6. BIM is affecting contracts and appointments, so the commercial department should be aware of the project's BIM requirements.
  7. Align the style and presentation standards with your BIM authoring tool, such as Revit.

To conclude, BIM implementation is a process that affects almost all departments of companies involved in the AECOO industry.

In the next section, we will learn how to create a Revit training scheme for your company.

 

BIM and the Revit training scheme

Companies are using a variety of applications and plugins that require training to maintain productivity, and it is essential to have a strategic plan for your training scheme.

Strategic goals for your training scheme include the following:

  • Assess staff knowledge.
  • Identify the current training process.
  • Determine the training obstacles.
  • Define the training budget.
  • Identify in-house experts.
  • Establish a process to measure progress.
  • Identify resources, such as computers, training rooms, training material, online video training, company standards, and more.

Let's explore each of these strategic goals in detail.

Assessing staff knowledge

Assessing staff knowledge and defining the level of experience will help to determine the training program. It's possible to create a survey with multiple tools, such as SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, Microsoft Forms, and more.

Software experience can be tracked based on the following factors:

  • The number of years (less than 1 year, from 1 to 2 years, from 3 to 4 years, and 5+ years)
  • The level of experience (none, a fundamental awareness or basic knowledge, novice or limited experience, intermediate, advanced, and expert)
  • Specific software questions
  • Task-based questions
  • A one-to-one interview

Identifying the current training process

We need to identify the current training processes to review gaps and find possible improvements.

During this research, we could find better options to track and organize our training sessions.

Determining the training obstacles

The success of your training depends on how you minimize training obstacles and provide effective training for your staff.

The following list offers a few examples of obstacles that you may have to address:

  • Managing changes: This includes technology, budget, staff, and any other changes.
  • Getting around a learned habit: It could be challenging to change a process that has been implemented for many years.
  • Developing BIM/Revit champions: You will need Revit champions to support your implementation and help the staff.
  • Creating disruptions in the current workflow: The new workflow should improve productivity and reduce any potential disruption.
  • Engaging staff: The trainer must communicate the training value and productivity advantages.
  • Providing training: Language barriers and geographic limitations could be an issue.
  • Finding the best time to provide training: Users will benefit from training just before a project starts. It can be challenging to find a date to book it.
  • Evaluating training effectiveness: It is essential to track the training's effectiveness and identify improvements.

Defining the training budget

It is important to demonstrate to the senior leadership the training value and the activities to fund, such as online video training and the time spent to produce training material.

Identifying in-house experts

In-house experts will support and motivate the staff during your implementation process. They are a vital element of a continuous training program.

Establishing a process to measure progress

Track the training's effectiveness is essential to demonstrate how the training is impacting the organization. The post-training skills assessment will help to collect information, and the follow-up session will identify any gain in productivity.

Identifying resources

Identifying resources will help you to understand what needs to be purchased to provide training in terms of technology, training rooms, training material, online video training, and the time to produce or improve the company standards.

There are essential points that you need to define before starting the training:

Revit material:

  • The Revit template with company standards
  • Office Revit families
  • Shared parameters
  • The Revit model to be used during the training
  • Workflows for essential Revit plugins
  • Rendering material libraries

Training program:

  • The training agenda and material
  • The number of sessions per training
  • The group size
  • Training levels – that is, from fundamental to expert

Training variety:

  • Classroom or online training
  • Small groups
  • One-to-one training
  • On-demand training
  • Video training
  • Ongoing support
  • Mentoring

Training customization

Successful training strategies are based on the customization for each project role, such as the directors, project managers, BIM managers/BIM coordinators, and information authors.

Please note that the project role is different from the job title role, so an architect could act part-time as an architect and BIM coordinator.

The training scheme can be divided into four areas:

  • Senior management and directors: The BIM introduction and core principles should cover the entire company, including the senior management and directors.
  • Project managers: Project managers will receive an overview of Revit workflow and learn about BIM documentation that includes BEP, Exchange Information Requirements (EIR), and other industry standards.
  • BIM managers/BIM coordinators: BIM managers and BIM coordinators will receive in-depth Revit training and also training for multiple software to manage the clash detection process, asset management data, and other project-based requirements.
  • Information authors: Information authors are the designers, architects, and engineers who will model in Revit, so in-depth Revit training is required.

Toward the end of the training session, the trainer can customize the training to be project-specific, which will engage the staff even more.

Project-specific training is very useful in order to demonstrate the challenges that a team will face ahead when they start the project. It could vary from a complex façade design to an intricate project program.

To conclude, the information in this section provides the base for you to create a training scheme and customize it accordingly to the various project roles.

 

Summary

In this chapter, we learned that the information within BIM models is our most valuable asset, and information management is an essential process to improve productivity in Revit.

Moreover, we can now understand the importance of Revit productivity via a methodology that enables you to research for quality information before you start a task. Additionally, the associated time management techniques can increase your productivity in Revit.

We explained Revit's technical key factors to improve productivity and the process to specify the best workstation for Revit. Finally, we learned about successful strategies to implement BIM and create a training scheme for your company.

In the next chapter, we will cover project data management and learn about the critical data required to start a Revit project, appointment overview, BIM documentation, project functions, asset management, and establish a plan of action to begin a BIM/Revit project.

About the Authors

  • Fabio Roberti

    Fabio Roberti is a Regional Practice Technology Leader (EMEA) and Associate at HKS Architects, where he develops and implements the digital strategy to consolidate processes and workflows to enhance project deliverables. He supports BIM processes in innovative ways to improve technology adoption with a thorough understanding of British Standards and the ISO 19650 framework and has many years of experience using Revit across all design stages. He holds a Master's degree in Architecture, the Autodesk Revit Architecture Professional Certificate, and a BIM Level 2 Certificate from BRE Academy. Fabio has presented at multiple conferences, including Digital Construction Week and Autodesk University in London and Las Vegas. His passions for digital technology and teaching others new skills helped him achieve his company's objectives and support many colleagues over the years. Besides BIM excellence, Fabio is interested in the rapidly advancing artificial intelligence sector, programming, and technologies that support superior construction deliverables.

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  • Decio Ferreira

    Decio Ferreira, with over 20 years of professional experience as an Architect, is a BIM and Design Systems BIM Coordinator at Foster+Partners, where he is responsible alongside with his team for developing and implementing standards, methods, and procedures across the practice. He is a strong, committed individual who thrives when developing and researching BIM strategies, workflows, and approaches to improve what he believes to be the most important: collaboration. He holds three BIM certifications: BIM Level 2 Fundamentals and BIM Level 2 BS1192-2 Project Information Manager and Task Information Management, both from BRE Academy, and BS EN ISO 19650-3:2020 from BSI, both in London. In terms of software, he has worked with Revit since 2000 and holds Autodesk Revit Architectural, Structural and Mechanical Professional Certificates (since version 2011), along with an AutoCAD Professional Certificate (since version 2005), and is an Autodesk Certified trainer. He lectures at several academic institutions as a guest lecturer and actively lectures at NossoBIM on the International Master BIM Manager program and also at Polytechnic Institute ISEP (Instituto Superior de Engenharia do Porto), providing a high level of expertise in the BIM software training field. Decio has presented at multiple conferences, including at Autodesk University in Las Vegas and Sao Paulo. Decio is passionate about photography, planes, and traveling, which allows him to contact, learn about, and understand new cultures and different lifestyles. For him, there is nothing more important than his family!

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