If you haven/'t had a chance to look at the recently released ACAD Revit MEP 2011 Suite, then it/'s time to take a look. Without sounding like a cheerleader, this release is a major step in the right direction! Since the release on April 16th, I have had the program open almost every day, and I am currently designing a fire protection system with the 2011 Software. I have been pleased with the quality of the marketed improvements that Autodesk is touting. However, there are also several behind the scenes improvements which will make a huge difference to the end user.
If you haven/'t had a chance to look at the recently released Autodesk Revit MEP 2011, then it/'s time to take a look. Without sounding like a cheerleader, this release is a major step in the right direction! Since the release on April 16th, I have had the program open almost every day, and I am currently designing a fire protection system with the Revit MEP 2011 Software. I have been pleased with the quality of the marketed improvements that Autodesk is touting. However, there are also several improvements, which are kind of behind the scenes improvements, which will make a huge difference to the end user. Let me clarify this by saying, there is still room for improvement, but Autodesk knows what needs to be done, and they are listening to the engineering community. The TME philosophy is to use Revit MEP 2011 for what it can currently do, and not really worry about what the software cannot do.
The area of improvement that is getting the most attention in our office involves electrical panel schedules. Panel schedule sizes and customization was one of our biggest complaints. In just two short weeks, those complaints have almost stopped. Being able to edit, manage and customize a template to your company standard is a very nice improvement and is enabling us to do things in the product that we could not do before.
Autodesk has given us many tools to customize panel schedules in the Set Template Options under the Modify Panel Schedule Template Tab. With all of these options, you should be able to build a panel schedule that is functional, looks good on paper, and is easily understandable to the contractor. Autodesk has also given us the ability to assign spares and spaces, rebalance loads, move circuits easily, and lock the circuits. The best improvement of all is the ability to place the panels on sheets, for consistency and size.
On the Manage tab, Settings panel, you will find Demand factors in the MEP Settings drop down. These demand loads can now be shown on panel schedules, and they are user definable. Since almost every engineer likes to do things his or her own way, the customization should allow for flexibility in electrical design. Demand factors have been asked for by our electrical engineers. Here are the thoughts of one of TME’s electrical engineers, John Blissett. ‘This will enable an electrical designer to monitor the ‘Total Demand Load’ on the panels and switchboards using project appropriate NEC constraints for each category of demand. The result is that ‘Bus Amperage’ for electrical gear can be sized economically without fear of under sizing the equipment. As project changes occur this ‘Total Demand Load’ versus ‘Bus Amps’ can now be easily tracked and quality checked, with any changes in buss amps justified immediately.’
Another key improvement is the ability to manage MEP fixtures that are typically placed by the architect. Autodesk has given us the ability to use MEP fixtures that are placed in a linked architectural model. The fixtures that can be copied and monitored are the lighting fixtures, mechanical equipment, plumbing fixtures, and air terminals. This process will allow the MEP engineer to create a copy of the Architectural fixture in the MEP Model and then monitor them for changes. You can also map these copied fixtures and change them to the smart MEP content by using the Copy/Monitor tool. Additionally, you can then select the Coordination Settings tool and map to whatever type of MEP fixture you need. This will work great for scheduling.
How many times have we forgotten to coordinate conduit and cable trays into our design? We now have the functionality to coordinate realistic conduit and cable trays. Autodesk has given us the option for channel, ladder, solid bottom, trough and wire mesh cable trays along with fittings and connectors. Junction boxes can also be placed with the conduit automatically when assigned in the type properties, and you can connect the conduit to a cable tray. There is also a connect into face feature for conduit placement on electrical equipment like panelboards. The new electrical content in Revit MEP 2011 also came with connectors for the new improvements. This feature should be a tremendous help with coordination issues within our models.
Another key improvement for our firm is the addition of flat oval duct. Flat oval duct had been an important part of the design process at TME, and several of our engineers just cringed at the fact that flat oval was not an original option for Revit MEP. One of our engineers, who has been hesitant to use Revit MEP, commented that he may just have to finally learn the program since flat oval ductwork has been introduced. Having the proper sizing and fittings should also help us tighten up our coordination inside of our models and buildings.
While the above major improvements have been heavily marketed by Autodesk, the following describes some the smaller features that have been added or modified. I feel that these are also huge positives for the software to help us do our day to day work.
Reconcile Hosting under the Collaborate tools, is a nice feature for hosting issues and collaboration with Architectural models. This will allow you to see what hosted elements were orphaned when you inserted a new architectural model. When you right click on the Reconcile hosting dialog box, you are able to select host, which will then let you rehost the element.
Visible in view is a nice new feature. This feature will now allow you to select all instances in a view, rather than using a filter or selecting all instances in the project.
The workset dialog box, being in view at all times is nice to have. Even though we could have it open in our quick access toolbar, it is helpful to have the worksets always in view; especially for a company who promotes the use of worksets for design.
The properties dialog box is now on at all times. At first, I thought it was annoying, but now I love having it visible at all times. I moved the default to my second monitor, and it works great for my particular design style.
Our lead Revit Plumbing Designer is glad to see the place valves and/or fittings in a section/elevation view. This should help ease some of the issues of tricky valve placements, as well as, improve 3D riser schematic detailing.
Tag on placement is another tool, which if used correctly could save hours of time. Being a recovering fire protection designer, now BIM Development Coordinator, I would have loved to have this feature for sizing and tagging the piping I was modeling. Now if we could only tag in 3D!
Last but not least, the speed of our models has dramatically improved. We have seen a tremendous difference in how our models are operating. The models do not seem to have the lag and are responding to commands without hesitation, even on laptops. We converted a 75 mb MEP file to 2011 in about two minute and another 100 mb file in 3 minutes. Autodesk definitely worked on the speed and stability for 2011, and it has shown in our models.
With all of this being said, there are still some key issues that need to be addressed. Piping is a key concern for me and hopefully that part of the program can be addressed soon. Will the release of Revit MEP 2011 make everyone happy with the software? Probably not! Will everyone who reads this review agree with everything that is in this review? Probably not! But one thing that we all should agree on, is Autodesk did take a huge step in the right direction with the release of Autodesk Revit MEP 2011.