BIM Tutorials: Revit Model Sharing

As part of your BIM deliverables, you are required to provide a unified dataset. The question is; how will this be done if multiple BIM exist of the same building or parts of buildings? How will you reconcile your design and construction models at the end of the project? One option is to not have a design and construction model, but instead have one unified Master Model.

The Challenge

Traditional 2D Revisions

Example graphic showing traditional 2D revisions

For years there has existed a disconnect between the design and construction documents. This disconnect occurs as soon as the project fabricators become involved with the project. Often a project will hand over a copy of their 2D and 3D data to the fabricators as soon as they become involved in the project. The fabricators will begin developing fabrication level data from that original dataset. From this moment on you have a fractured model environment.

In a simple 2D world this fractured environment, although very inefficient, could be managed. The design team would continually issue addendums, revisions and bulletins that the fabricators would reference and adjust their drawings to. Besides being very costly and inefficient, this process is prone to errors and almost always left the Owner with two disconnected sets of data at the end of a project.

GSA is no longer willing to accept this fractured dataset as a final deliverable. In a BIM based world, it is no longer acceptable to have the same object exist in multiple files. When a building owner has multiple sets of conflicting data, it is nearly impossible to leverage the data for facility automation and management.

Workflow

One recommended workflow to achieve a unified model would be to share the project dataset. Although not required, this is the only path to minimal waste in the development of the required unified deliverable at project completion. There are many ways this can be accomplished and each team will need to develop strategies that best suit their individual needs.

Traditional Workflow for Project Data

In the traditional workflow project data becomes fractured once the construction team enters the project. For many years this has been unavoidable but now tools exist to minimize or eliminate this waste.

Traditional Workflow infographic part 1
Traditional Workflow infographic part 2

Optimal Workflow for Project Data

An optimal workflow for project data is one in which all team members contribute to a single unified dataset. This single dataset evolves over the course of the project with each participant contributing their specific knowledge to the project.

For example the mechanical designer may place a VAV box in the model and complete several of the COBie2 entries related to the requirements of the unit. As the project progresses the mechanical installer will add installation specific data to the exact same model object.

Optimal Workflow infographic

The Options

As the data creators, your team must decide what strategy will best meet the projects goals and required deliverables. The simplest but most costly option would be to maintain the legacy practice of model fracturing and then manually reconcile all the data to a single BIM at the end of the project. In many cases this may require the data creator to completely remodel the data. For example, if the sheet metal fabricator worked in FabMEP there will be no way to import that data into a format that meets the GSA BIM Guidelines for Revit. You will have to remodel the data in a format that supports the ability to add the attributes and grouping required by the Standard.

Until recently the only option available was the fractured workflow. New advancements in BIM tools have opened up cost savings opportunities for BIM data creators. The options listed below will focus on tools available for the Autodesk Revit platform, however many solutions now exist for most BIM authoring tools.

WAN based Sharing

The most well known means of sharing project data is the extension of a company Wide Area Network, or WAN, to allow partners to directly access shared project data. In the Revit environment this shared WAN is typically supported by the use of network accelerators, the most common of which is Riverbed Appliance. When properly deployed on a very low latency / high bandwidth network, a distributed WAN can allow for a single Revit model to be accessed by multiple parties.

Autodesk Revit Server

From Autodesk:

Revit Server is the server application for Revit Architecture, Revit Structure, and Revit MEP. It is the foundation for server-based worksharing for Revit projects. A workshared project is a Revit building model that multiple team members can access and modify at the same time. With server-based worksharing, multiple instances of Revit Servers are installed at different sites and configured to perform specific roles to support optimal project collaboration across a wide area network (WAN). Together these instances of Revit Server make up the Revit Server network.

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