Revit Families: An Effective Tool for MEP Engineers

Families – they are integral to just about everything in life. This is doubly true for Revit families in the world of MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) engineering. The importance of Revit family creation, especially Revit MEP family creation, is paramount in Revit 3D modelling. So, what is Revit MEP family creation and how beneficial is it?

Since the Revit platform was created by Autodesk, perhaps the more relevant question is: What is Autodesk Revit MEP?

Revit MEP from Autodesk is a building information modelling (BIM) software created specifically for MEP engineers or other MEP professionals. The software enables modifications, additions and communication in intelligent models so that MEP systems, regardless of their complexity, can be precisely designed and documented in a relatively short time. An entire project can be represented as a single model created by Revit MEP and is typically stored in a single file. This way, any changes effected in one part of the model is automatically updated and modified in other parts of the model.

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What are the key benefits of using Revit MEP?

Using Revit MEP within a BIM workflow increases productivity, streamlines design and documentation and speeds up project completion from the design stage to the construction stage while automatically updating changes across the model for every single change anywhere in the model. It does so with a range of tools and features designed to improve productivity, such as Building Performance Analysis, Autodesk 360 Integration, Construction Documentation, Pressure and Flow Calculations, Pressure Loss Reports, Parametric Components, etc.

Revit MEP also reduces risks and helps create high quality designs. It can be used to develop detailed BIM-ready product models with a high level of accuracy by an HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) manufacturing company, for example.

The engineering design process is streamlined with the use of a single model. The single model enables a more efficient communication of design intent before the start of construction. Building performance is improved this way, as project stakeholders can make more informed and precise decisions on design.

A thorough knowledge of creating ‘families’ and ‘types’ can positively influence the length of time it takes to create a model. Families consist of categories and sub-categories. Each category consists of individual families. For instance, consider the Sprinkler Category.

The category of Sprinkler can create several kinds of sprinklers. It is possible for families within this category to perform different functions and use different materials, which makes each of them a family ‘type’. Each family type has a graphical representation. When a specific family and individual family type is used to create a design component, it is known as an ‘instance’. Each instance has its own properties.

The parameters of an element can be changed without changing the parameters of the family type. Only the instance or element or component is affected by the change. When the parameters of the family type are changed, every instance of elements in the family type are changed.

The three main classifications of families are: system, loadable and in-place families.

System families are preinstalled families and create basic MEP elements, such as ducts and pipes. . System family settings include types for levels, grids and drawing sheets.

Loadable families are created elsewhere and then uploaded into the project. They are typically used to create MEP fixtures or other elements that be purchased, moved or fixed in and near a building. Revit MEP helps create and alter loadable families, as they are customisable. External RFA files are used to create them, and then they are loaded into the project. A loadable family with many types uses type catalogs to select a type of family. This family type can be identified and loaded into the project without loading all the family types. Specific kinds of loadable families are nested and shared families.

The third kind of families is the in-place family, which can be used to create customised elements. When a project requires a special individual element, in-place families are created with a specific geometry. The geometry of in-place families will then reference other project geometry and change itself based on the changes of the referenced geometry. Revit can create a family with a single-family type to create an in-place element.

During Revit MEP family creation, Revit 3D modelling can help analyse electrical systems, especially lighting, in a project, since a source of light has its own properties in a modelling setting. Nested families, which are families within other families, can be used to create families with multiple light sources. This is done using the host geometry of the main family. Various lighting fixtures can also be included.

Besides electrical components, Revit MEP family creation includes the creation of elements from other trades too. Some of the examples of Revit MEP family creation components, or elements, are as follows:

Revit Mechanical Family Creation

  • HVAC components
  • Pipes – valve, strainer and pipe hanger
  • Duct hangers
  • Air terminals

Revit Plumbing Family Creation

  • Pumps
  • Fixtures – urinals, wash basins, water closets
  • Valves
  • Devices – measuring devices, gauges
  • Fittings

Revit Electrical Family Creation

  • Transformers
  • Distribution boards
  • Switches and sockets
  • Fire alarm devices
  • Lighting fixtures

Revit HVAC Family Creation

  • Fan coil units
  • Air handling units
  • Fire dampers
  • Diffusers, grilles and registers
  • Fittings and valves

Revit Firefighting Family Creation

  • Sprinklers
  • Valves
  • Fittings
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Cabinets

Autodesk’s Revit is BIM software that includes MEP features and is commonly called Revit BIM, but Revit is not BIM. Revit has been created for BIM. The nice thing about BIM, well one of the nice things, is that the data that is stored in BIM throws up a few advantages for users of Revit BIM. Convenient scheduling, marketing that is exclusive, design changes that can be quickly communicated and implemented throughout a project and easy access for MEP designers are some of the advantages of using the information in BIM models.

It’s easy to see why Revit families and their creation are an effective tool for MEP engineers, but since sound technical knowledge is required to create object-based models in Revit BIM, many Western firms opt for offshore Revit modelling services when local talent is either challenging to find or too expensive to afford. Offshore modelling services developed with Revit family creation are increasingly found to be affordable, precise and delivered on time, making it the popular way to go.

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