How can Revit interact with Manufacturers’ data?

Linking Manufacturers data in Revit

Data is at the heart of each Building Information Model. Sorting out the data or the non-model information first is the single most important thing in improving efficiency, quality, clarity, and consistency in any project. As manufacturers of construction products today are getting on-board with digitalisation of their products’ data there are some issues that we need to look at before we take full advantage of their data in software such as Autodesk Revit.

Standard-based properties

A major part of performance properties for a product type, such as the Window, come from Standards and Technical Specifications. Globally, there are numerous standards that apply to different national contexts as well as international standards like ISO. In Europe, Harmonised Standards exist to govern and regulate what characteristics goods shall comply with. For example, the properties for the window, listed on the left-hand side of the table below, are extracted from the hES EN 14351-1, and most of the values shall be declared by manufacturers. So, one practical issue is that this data is available, but the actors in the Design/Build Process rarely take a full advantage of it.  On the right hand side of the table there are built-in performance parameters, extracted for a window from Revit. As you can see, there is a great potential for more data to be provided to designers and by using BIM data software such as goBIM, they can benefit from a quick access to a vast amount of information sourced from manufacturers and based on the relevant standards.


A single source of truth

One of the benefits of using real manufacturer’s data at the Design stage is the easy comparison between actual property values that are central to conducting different lighting, thermal, acoustic and wind load analysis as well as comparisons related to security, colour, rating, material, etc. In order to make better informed decisions a specifier might use a comparison tool that would compare the real values associated with different products. However, that might be problematic as there is still no single source of truth regarding property naming in the different built-in templates in Revit. For instance there are properties that vary in naming eg. ‘Frame material and ‘material frame’ and even if they are with the same name they might be associated with different GUIDs and therefore are treated as different ‘things’ by any software. Inconsistency also is created in the case where the specifier might have to create their own custom property or use a BIM object. Consequently, there are properties in Revit that are associated with multiple GUIDS (Global Unique Identifiers) or created on a case by case basis that impede the use of any third-party software drawing on unified parametrization. That is why, Product Data Template software such as goBIM has the solution to this issue based in rigorous process of consistent naming and mapping all variation of a single concepts to unique identifiers. Through using the properties defined by coBuilder, specifiers can take advantage of multiplicity of properties that can be easily used by any third party software, because they are always based on a single source of truth.

Context, Context, Context

Cobuilder not only provide a thorough list of properties in accordance with harmonized standards, but also create Product Data Templates (what is a PDT) to suite regional and national contexts eg. requirements and standards. This feature addresses another issue that can be seen while using manufacturer’s data in Revit.

Let’s get back to the window example. In different countries throughout the world there are national-specific characteristics for a window. For instance, in the US there are ‘performance classes’ and ‘performance grades’, and the window has a ‘designation’ related to its performance. Whereas, let`s say in the UK, this is not relevant. In the UK you would declare an ‘exposure category’. And in Revit, there`s thermal resistance (R value) – commonly used by the US market. So in short, if you`re a British architect, designing a project in the US, you need to know the local standards and characteristics, as you might not specify the exposure category for your windows, but you should specify their performance grades and classes.

How does Cobuilder solve these issues?

The answer`s simple – by mapping and utilizing bSDD for storing data. Apart from acting as a data dictionary in terms of language, the bSDD is a universal mapping tool based on one of buildingSMART’s core openBIM standards. It connects the meaning of different construction terms to their specific context by keeping the important relationships between concepts such as product type and its properties. (Learn more)

goBIM plugin

Through using Cobuilder’s goBIM plugin for Revit, all interested parties can take advantage of structured, interoperable, standards-based data that is the solid basis of a GOOD Model. As Manufacturers are the most credible sources of this data we have given them the power to control and share their data in the most efficient way so that the whole supply chain can take advantage of more rigorous digital processes. Taking the considerations discussed in this article and many more we have made sure that attributing and utilizing manufacturer’s data in the model is no longer associated with issues such as incompleteness, inconsistency and irrelevancy. Please, contact us if you are interested in the goBIM plugin.

New opportunities

Ensuring that Revit can interact with data from the manufacturer opens a new horizon for the manufacturing of today and tomorrow. Imagine a model that can be used for automatic purchases? We are at the verge of building a new digital highway where the way machine readable data links to the model will change how Revit users can ‘browse’ manufacturers’ products, choosing and specifying according to the client’s information requirements, making calculations based on real specifications and even buying the right product just by clicking in the model. It is a brave new world…