Revit Foodservice: Too Big To Fail
Twenty five years ago, Autodesk took the pencils out of our hands and the drawings off our drafting tables and immersed us into computer-aided design. The Foodservice industry immediately responded, boosting the development of symbol libraries and publishing layering conventions, and AutoCAD quickly became the industry standard. But that was twenty five years ago and AutoCAD has become a little long of tooth. Revit is the next generation of CAD design, and is announced as a bigger technology boost today than AutoCAD was in 1985.
Revit is much more than a drawing program. The new paradigm is Building Information Modeling (‘BIM’), defined as CAD software that “employs intelligent 3D objects to represent real physical building components”. Components that have a knowledge of themselves and that perform successfully with other smart components and with all MEP disciplines in a virtual Revit world that has its own reality. Driving this is an underlying database architecture described by AutoDesk as a parametric exchange engine.
Revit excitement in the AEC community has become evangelical. For architectural, structural, MEP, and contracting, the differences are comprehensive: collisions are avoided, loads are queried, errors are prevented, take-offs are computed, and tedious and exacting calculations are automated. The BIM model gives a Revit design a lifecycle that manages and sustains information throughout the life a building.
What about Foodservice Equipment? The AEC community now pressures every manufacturer to build families that cooperate, conform, and perform in Revit projects. But no CSI division is more fragmented, more complex, and more at risk than 114000. In the strict Autodesk-enforced Revit Family taxonomy there is no Food Service Equipment Category allowed. Foodservice is lumped into ‘Specialty Equipment’ together with fire systems, toilet room stalls, iMacs, and baseball foul poles.
A kitchen in a Revit building is a puzzle wrapped in an enigma. Foodservice Equipment is machines, not structural, not really architectural, nor MEP. The families don’t create space, they consume space, don’t create utilities, they consume utilities: electric, gas, water, waste, ventilation, and steam utility requirements which must comply with MEP requirements. The products are diverse and our manufacturing is fragmented into many disciplines. This diversity stresses the Revit family model. A major Revit building can be built with 6 window families and 6 door families, but inside the kitchen could be hundreds of foodservice families sharing the same space, many with unique utility connectors and loads.
The AutoCAD DWG libraries in the foodservice equipment industry now contain 40,000 models. To meet the industry requirements for Revit, do we need 100,000 families? At what Revit cost? Independent Revit developers surfing the vertical markets have already visited this industry and tried to cherry-pick the biggest and best manufacturers and have proposed some astounding numbers. What if the cost really is $1000 per family? Must we spend $40 million?
Cost, time, and family compatibility are major issues. The Revit revolution will be set back indefinitely if the cash burn and incompatibility are not prevented. And Revit is too important, too urgent, and too big to fail.
AutoQuotes is adding extensions to the AQ database to provide utility data and dimensional data to simplify and amplify development of Revit families. And the FCSI-NAFEM Revit Task Force, AutoQuotes, Autodesk, and top Revit Consultants are developing a detailed document specific for Foodservice Equipment Families to outline a plan for the industry to meet Revit requirements, reduce costs, and insure family compatibility. This set of standards will be published online in June and available on our website at www.aqnet.com and on the websites of many of our industry partners.
If you wish to participate in the Revit Foodservice Standards development, visit the forum hosted by Truman Donoho at bim-builders.ning.com. In the forum, Truman posts drafts of the standard and tips on how to make and manage Revit Foodservice families. You can review the drafts and post your own ideas and insights. Hope you will visit and share with us, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tdonoho@bim-builders.com.
Kent Motes, AutoQuotes CEO