Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Merry Christmas... and the future of BIM

Hi all, thank you for following my Blog, I hope you find the content valuable. 

This Blog has evolved over the past number of years, mostly due to my own development. It initially started out as a means to share Revit training tips and has since evolved to focus on BIM overall, the process and impact BIM has on the AECO industry. 

It's evolving further to include tips and information on leadership and management techniques and how to effectively lead a team, tips I think everyone can use regardless of their position. 

BIM is all about collaboration and sharing information, whether that's data, conceptual design ideas, or ways to improving a process, we all want to improve how we work together.

Working together can be challenging, both working as part of an internal team, working with outside consultants and even working with the client themselves, all have their own set of unique challenges.

Our industry as a whole has unique challenges, traditional process are colliding with the demand to improve on how we design and construct buildings. Technology plays a huge part in improving that process, we have to look at ways on which how we can improve the process one step at a time to achieve greatness.

I hope 2017 brings you adventures and success in your challenges.

Merry Christmas.


Friday, 16 December 2016

CanBIM Vancouver: Facilitating Change In The Construction Industry

Hi all, I’d like to personally invite you to attend the CanBIM Regional Session in Vancouver on Feb 1-2, 2017. It promises to be a very interesting event filled with great presenters and important content. 

CanBIM Vancouver: Facilitating Change In The Construction Industry is intended to encourage and support the mindset surrounding change management, collaboration and the alignment around the adoption of building technologies and sustainable practices among all disciplines, stakeholders and decision-makers.  

As you may be aware I am a member of the Board of Directors for CanBIM and have been involved in putting together the Vancouver events held this time each year, this year’s event we have brought together a wide variety of AECO industry leaders including:
  • Sandy Tragus; CFO Mountain Equipment Co-Op
  • Dermot Sweeny;  Sweeny & Co. Architects
  • Helen Goodland; Principal, Brantwood Consulting & BC Construction Assoc.
  • Clint Undseth; VP Innovation, Stuart Olson
  • David Redfern; Lafarge EVP
  • Brian Tucker; VP Development Construction Westbank Properties
  • Michael Chubb; Innovation, Vancouver International Airport

To name but a few…

Of special note is our Keynote Presenter, the Honourable Amrik Virk, the Minister of Technology, Innovation & Citizens’ Services who will be sure to engage and inspire. 

Keynote Speaker Announced! 
Honourable Amrik S. Virk, 
Minister of Technology, Innovation & Citizens' Services, 
MLA for Surrey-Tynehead, Province of British Columbia
Please check out the CanBIM Website for Agenda details.

Early Bird Deadline ends December 20th. 
Deadline  December  20th  -  11:59PM
CanBIM  Member  -  $250.00
Non-Member  -  $300.00
CanBIM  Exhibitor  -  $900.00
Non-Member  Exhibitor  -  $1200.00
Student  Non-Member  $45.00
Student  CanBIM  Member  $25.00


Begins  December  21st  -  12:00AM 
CanBIM  Member  -  $300.00
Non-Member  -  $350.00
CanBIM  Exhibitor  -  $1200.00
Non-Member  Exhibitor  -  $1500.00
Student  $65.00 
CanBIM  Student  Member  $45.00 

Monday, 12 December 2016

Facilitating Change in the Construction Industry

Join us February 1st and 2nd 2017 in Vancouver for our CanBIM Regional Session titled; Facilitating Change in the Construction Industry.

In order for BIM to deliver significant value, key design and construction disciplines need to be aligned. The challenge is to bridge the historic disconnect between finance, design, construction and operations. The need for productivity improvement within the construction industry is expediting the convergence of technologies, materials and processes to improve productivity and higher performing buildings; the implementation of innovative technologies like BIM are at center of this shift.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Using the Room Calculation Point to enable schedules and dRofus

Enabling the Calculation Point function in a Specialty Equipment family allow you to specify what room the equipment is to be associated with. I recently found this to be helpful with working with dRofus wanting to populate equipment that may not site directly within a certain Room.

Here’s a brief overview of how to use this tool.

The Room Calculation Point allows you to make the element, in this case a piece of equipment, “room aware” by enabling the Room Calculation Point tool in the properties of the family and dragging the “leader” into the space you want to associate the equipment with.

We recently used this function to enable us to associate a roller shade with a room.

When the Room Calculation Point has not been enabled the roller shade (highlighted) will not be associated with the room, either in a Revit Schedule or within dRofus as the equipment geometry does not sit within the space.

When the equipment is scheduled it will not recognize the adjacent room.

By editing the family and enabling the Room Calculation Point under Properties you will be able to then pick the Room Calculation Point itself and move the point so it sits with the desired space.

Tip: Use the “Tab” key to select the point.

Drag the point into to the “room” side. Save family and reload into Project.

Now the Room Calculation Point sits within the Room Space and is recognized by the Room Space and will show up in the Revit Schedule and dRofus.

For further reference on the Room Calculation Point here is the link to the Autodesk knowledge site:

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

United States Thankisgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Neighbourino.

For those of you not familiar with the North American tradition of giving thanks but eating local fowl, here's some history...

In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

For more history check out this link.

Friday, 18 November 2016

5 Tips in 5 Days - #5 eTransmit

      Using eTransmit to share the model
The Transmit tool enables you to copy the Revit model and its dependent files to a folder for sharing with the consultants. This can be done without opening the project. There are a number of useful options as part of the Transmit functionality.

The Transmit options include.
  • Selecting files from Revit Server
  • Linked files will be included but not actively Linked, these will need to be re-linked upon receiving the project
  • Cleanup of the project including options to Upgrade, Purge as well as options on inclusion or exclusion of sheets and views.

You can save these settings for use next time you use the Transmit function.  

If you do not have the Transmit tool on your Add-Ins pallet you can download the app from the Autodesk App Store.

For additional postings and BIM information check out the BIM User Group Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OkanaganBIMUsers

Thursday, 17 November 2016

5 Tips in 5 Days - #4 Text Improvement

 Revit Text Improvements – Bullets and Numbering
You can now add bullets and numbering to Annotation in Revit. 
However this function is still limited.

Unfortunately you cannot tab and continue using another format. :-(


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

5 Tips in 5 Days - #3 Options that can speed up your system


     #3 Option settings that can help speed up your system
Under Options - General make sure your default discipline is set to your Discipline.

Under Options - General deselect the analysis tools you do not need, this will help with the performance of Revit.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

5 Tips in 5 Days - #2 Selection Box

      Selecting elements to create a Selection Box
Selecting a group of items by either a crossing window or Ctrl – Pick

On the Modify ribbon that will appear, you can now select a Create Selection Box tool.

This will generate a 3D View with the Section Box enabled comprising the elements you selected.

Monday, 14 November 2016

5 Tips in 5 Days - #1 View right click options

I held one of my "Revit Round Table" sessions recently where I bring together the Revit technical staff and present a brief Revit tip after which we hold palaver (sorry been reading SK's Gunslinger series... again..) err, discussion on the Revit issues they're encountering on their projects.

This is a great opportunity to bring members from all teams together to discuss issues where other team members can offer solutions or suggestions, this helps build teamwork and share knowledge.. the following 5 posts are some of the Revit 2016 tips I share to instigate discussion.  

View right click options
If you right click on a View in the Project Browser to view the “open in location” options.

Handy when you've got a rather complex project browser with many views.


Friday, 11 November 2016

Remembrance Day 2016

This November 11th Remembrance Day I will be paying respect to the "traditional" Veterans we see and honor this time of year, older men and women who have served our countries faithfully in past wars. 

I will also be paying respect to today's Veterans who are still in their 20's, or early 30's. Not much older than my own two kids, being sent off to to a foreign county to fight for what they believe in. 

Veterans now include the whole spectrum of people as diverse as our community.
Remember and honor them all....Men, Women and the Children affected by war.


Monday, 31 October 2016

Zombie Projects

Zombie Projects… project that are resurrected from the dead… how to deal with them, how to bring them back to life so they wont bite you on the neck.

Projects raised from the dead!

I refer to projects that have been “raised from the dead” as Zombie projects.

Projects that have been started in Revit years ago, and for one reason or another, were then put on hold only to be resurrected again after a number of years…or a number of Revit versions.

Bringing a project back from the dead can be both challenging and fraught with danger.

Zombie projects can react in unexpected ways as the program tries to manage data and parameters that may not exist, or the function has changed. Creating a “Frankenstein” project where you’re cutting and chopping sections from the old project to create a new project can infect a new project with indiscriminate data or elements that can confuse and anger the victim causing mayhem throughout the team.

Be diligent in cleaning a project when moving it to the next stage in life, use sterile components to reduce the possibility of infection that may occur both immediately and at a later date.

If you have to raise a Revit project out of the grave and breathe life back into it, here are some tips so you wont get bitten on the…umm….neck…by the project.

Create a back up copy or Archived copy before commencing the upgrade process, you need to provide a record or where you left off and where you’re starting from.

Unload any linked models before upgrading, or it has to upgrade them at the same time as upgrading the intended model. – upgrade the linked models independently.

Delete any “old” local files on user’s computers.

Purge all unused (do it 3 times to truly get rid of everything not used) (again, not entirely necessary, especially if you’re going to continue working in the model).

Review and Resolve warnings.

Upgrade in steps, don’t go straight from 2012 to 2016, do it in stages such as; 2012 to 2014 to 2016.

Remove all unnecessary views (anything not on a sheet) before upgrading. This is also good practice for file maintenance.

Transfer project standards from the Seed File. This will port across the latest standards.

Make sure everyone on the new version is on the same Revit build.

Gather Data before and after upgrading, compare data to check for consistency and completeness (Doors, Views, Sheets, Etc). Use tools like BIMlink and Schedules to output any critical data like door schedules, RDS, etc.

Data loss in an upgrade can be sneaky and hidden until found. If you compare the data right away you can often see critical errors that have occurred during the upgrade.

When to Rebuild
If your project is older than Revit 2012, let the dead lie…You will seriously need to evaluate the pros and cons of upgrading verses entirely rebuilding the project. The benefits of rebuilding the project are too numerous to mention, but here are a few benefits. You’ll be starting the project with the latest seed file, utilizing the latest application and components that have been proven to work. For me, if the risk is too great, I’d be inclined to rebuild the project. The time it takes to rebuild the model is an investment in project stability. Building a monster…err.. project, using the latest components and tools reduces risks, and promotes a successful lifespan.

Evaluate your Zombie Projects, consider rebuilding verse resurrection!

Happy Halloween!!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Has BIM Increased Our Productivity?

I get that question a lot. When I first started promoting Revit as a replacement for AutoCAD, I talked about how Revit would reduce the time it took to complete a project.
…but that’s not what happens.

I don’t see a dramatic decrease in project delivery time, but I do see an increasing ability to deliver projects.

My experience – and that of many others – has been that Revit does enable faster creation of drawings. I can certainly produce a set of drawings for a generic building a lot faster in Revit than AutoCAD; however, increased project demands such as design complexity and timeline/budget constraints make it hard to see a measurable improvement in project delivery speed. Managing the rising levels of information and data required on projects inhibits our ability to quicken our pace. That being said, we have seen a measurable improvement in the quality of our deliverables and our service.

Measuring these more qualitative analytics can be difficult due to the diversity of our projects. Each project is unique, with a distinctive set of constraints and demands.

I can honestly say that some of our projects would not have been successful if Revit had not been used. As opposed to following traditional CAD methods, using Building Information Modeling (BIM) allows us to deliver a more concise, thought-out design that is better coordinated and executed, and with fewer staff.

The benefits of using BIM go beyond delivering a set of drawings. 
Quite simply, BIM helps us do better work for our clients.


Monday, 26 September 2016

Toronto CanBIM Regional Session & Technology Exhibition

I have managed to secure a special discount for colleagues and clients for the Toronto CanBIM Regional Session & Technology Exhibition: Technology Built Innovation II. 

Please take advantage of this reduced rate courtesy of CanBIM. 
See Registration instructions below.  

Guest Discount Registration Instructions
Guest Discount Code (10% discount): BIMTOR12NCM
Select "Non-Member" Registration Category 

October 5th & 6th, 2016

Metro Toronto Convention Centre
255 Front Street West
Rooms 205-206
Toronto, Ontario M5V 2W6
(416) 585-8310

Technology Built Innovation II 
CanBIM’s 2nd Annual Technology Built Innovation is jam packed with activity!! 

On Day One (October 5th), we start things off with a Tour of the EllisDon project site for the York University Subway Station and a Tour of the Award Winning Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence at York University. Next, The CanBIM AGM, and then we close out the night with a big splash at the Autodesk Opening Reception which includes the 2nd Annual CanBIM Awards. Our 2016 CanBIM Award Nominees have been selected see below for more information on this years candidates!
On Day Two (October 6th) We will host industry presentations and demonstrations on innovative and emerging BIM workflows, methodologies and technologies from industry leaders in the Architectural, Engineering, Construction and Facility Management fields. Right next door to our main presentations is our Technology Exhibition, which hosts 20 cutting edge companies showcasing their latest innovations! 

All disciplines and decision-makers are encouraged to attend this annual technology focused event.  One registration covers entry to both days; you won’t want to miss this event!

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Exporter tool by RTV Tools

I dont often promote a Revit add-in or specific tool, mainly because I need to try them out and form my own opinion first before writing a posting promoting the product. 
I also dont want to appear biased, but when I come across a product or service that stands out I feel obliged to share my opinion!

Recently we've been looking for a specific tool to help us automate the creation of PDF's, DWG and a variety of other outputs for a large project. I looked into a number of applications and decided to try out RTV Tools, Xporter pro.

I love it!

Not only the application but also the service and support from RTV Tools. these guys have been great at providing support, training and solutions to our needs on this project.

Some of the specific tools weve been looking at and now using are scheduled tasks such as exporting, print to PDF, all remote task processing.
Some additional features include:

  • Bulk Sheet edit parameter data;
  • Import and Create Sheets from Excel;
  • Bulk update Sheet Revisions and export Revision and Cloud data to Excel;
  • Batch File Upgrader including Family, Project and Template files.
If your looking for a great Revit add-in tool check these guys out. 
I've been impressed in their service and the tools they provide.

Friday, 8 July 2016

RTC NA 2016

I'm off to the North american Revit Technology Conference next week held in Phoenix Arizona!
Going to be HOT!

If you're going feel free to seek me out and say hi, I have a session called:

In the Face of a Challenge
Innovative Project Delivery Strategies

Building and Integrated Team to Deliver a Project

This session is all about how project team management and planning is crucial as projects become more complex with tighter budgets and compressed timelines. 
I'll discuss the unique processes and procedures to address a variety of challenges on large, complex building projects. Using as a case study the Vancouver-based BC Children's and Women's Hospital, a $680 million project delivered by public-private partnership.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

How to Manage a Meeting

Managing a meeting is a very important skills.

Meetings can either be a huge drain on time and resources or a huge benefit to both those involved and the organization as a whole. If you are reluctant to attend regular scheduled meetings, or feel they are a waste of time the meeting is likely not being run effectively.

How effective a meeting is can depend upon who, and how the meeting is managed. The benefits of a well run meeting can be priceless, whether it be a short 10 min meeting or a  multi day summit, you want people to walk away from a meeting with the feeling of accomplishment and a sense of time spent.

If you are the organizer of a meeting, you are basically demanding an investment of time and knowledge from your participants, whether they are from within your organization or outside your organization there is a significant investment in cost and resources associated with holding a meeting. 
The time spent during this gathering can be an invaluable investment that will have a positive impact on your project.

I’ve attended many meetings… meetings dealing with complex issues that have brought together people from around the world with considerable investment in time and money. I’ve been fortunate to observe a number of very well organised people who are able to run a well thought out, successful meeting.

Taya Photography

Here is an amalgamation of tips and notes I’ve gathered from observing how successful meetings is organized.

Why: Firstly why are you having a meeting, is it absolutely necessary?
Consider the return on investment and what alternate options do you have to deal with the issues. If the meeting is just to inform take a look at other mediums that can be use to share the information, such as email, posting on a project forum, chat room or website. There are a number of great online platforms that allow for collaboration and sharing of documents and information where multiple people can add their thoughts and comments at their convenience.

Who: Who needs to attend?
Consider each individual's involvement on the issues and their ability to address or participate in finding solutions. Only involve those who are able to provide solutions, select people who have the ability to communicate effectively, avoid inviting people who are typically reluctant to contribute or who are dogmatic in their opinion, you want to create an environment of collaboration and solutions. 

Agenda: Have a well organised agenda that covers the topics needed to be discussed during the meeting. This means doing some preparation, find out prior to the meeting what the issues are which will define your objectives. From this you will be in a better position to invite the right people to the meeting in an effort to find the best possible solutions.

Stick to the agenda… but, don’t be afraid to veer off track to address issues that may arise. A good way to manage any "side" issues that come up  is to place them in a “cage” which can be addressed later allowing you to get back on the immediate topic. A “cage” is an area on a whiteboard or flip chart where you can list topics that need to be addressed at the end of a meeting. Before the end of a meeting these “caged” items should be assigned to an individual who can briefly give a 10 minute summary addressing exactly what the issue is and what possible solutions may be available, if no solutions are available this then becomes a action item delegating responsibility.

Meeting Summary: After the meeting, go over the objectives and outcome of the meeting, recognise people’s contributions and their participation. Summarize the challenges, solutions, plans and resolutions that have been addressed and those that require additional attention. Keep it simple, concise and brief. (something I find challenging...)

Action Items: Delegate responsibility of items that need to be addressed resulting from the meeting. You may have run a productive meeting but if there are no action items resulting from the meeting issues may not get resolved outside of the board room. Assign action items to those who are best suited to deal with the item as action items will hold people accountable.
Hope these tips help you manage your next meeting. Whether it's between two people or twenty, I have found these tips invaluable in holding a productive meeting.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Keeping up with Technology

When transitioning to Building Information Modeling you will have people who resist the transition, the prospect of having to learn new software, a new process and the disruption that the transition to BIM will be their main excuses not to move forward.

Technology has had an impact on a number of industries. Design and Construction is no exception, we need to constantly adapt and keep current if we want to remain in the industry, or you’ll become obsolete like these services we all use to use.. 

Remember getting your film developed? 
Use to be exciting to go pick up your photos, going through them for the first time, seeing which ones turned out and which ones didn’t. Often seeing photos you took months ago…

Going to get a movie… for me that was an evening out!
Going to the video store to pick a movie to watch that evening was fun…. 
Look at how fast Blockbusters disappeared!

Going to the store to buy music on a Compact Disc (or cassette), browsing through the available CD’s looking at what your favorite artist had recently released. Taking it home to play on your CD player… (Alternately substitute the word Compact Disc for Vinyl Record).

There are many examples I could refer too including, Fax Machines, VCR’s, PDA’s, pay phones, newspapers, parking your car, Taxi’s, Cable TV…etc, etc…

“Industry” in general is changing and as technology advances at an ever increasing rate, so too will the Design and Construction Industry. Which means we have to adapt now! Not only adapt our software but adapt our processes and the whole culture around design collaboration and our traditional deliverables. Changing “tradition” is the challenge, I’d be quite happy eliminating printed drawings tomorrow if I could, but it’s part of our contractual obligations, even though the BIM has far greater information that the printed set of drawings ever will.

When transitioning to a new process that utilizes technology keep in mind the long term goals of efficiency, productivity, sustainability and longevity. Resist the urge to go back to the “traditional” process or only “dipping your toe in” to test the waters, you need to move forward with a detailed plan and with confidence. There will always be hurdles and bumps in the road, keep the goal in mind and don’t turn back, it’s the only way you’ll be able to achieve your goals.

You don’t need to be on the cutting edge, but you also have to be careful not to end up on the “cutting room floor”, take advantage of the technology and make it work for you, introduce aspects gradually and build upon existing skills and knowledge. Through an incremental approach you’ll be surprised at how quickly people adapt and adopt technology, pretty soon you’ll be walking your client through a Virtual Building Model. Technology will allow you to deliver a better product faster than ever before by simply utilizing Building Information Modeling and the available associated technology that is rapidly being developed.

BIM is just a tool... And tools are what we use to amplify our capabilities.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

From CAD Manager to CIO

"CIO...? What's that?" I hear you say.

Chief Information Officer.. I like that title... so much better than BIM Manager don't you think!

Many of us have made that transition from CAD Manager to BIM Manager, many of us are finding that the role of BIM manager is growing beyond the scope of managing the project Building Information Model and more involved in the operational aspects of the business.

The transition from traditional 2D CAD to 3D BIM is probably more complex than we ever imagined. It's impact on the overall design and construction process is EPIC... yes I said Epic!

It affects not only how we produce our printed drawings (ugh..until the model supersedes flat printed drawings!) but also the business of design and our flow of operations involving everyone from the VP's to the tech's.

And who's on the front lines.... the BIM Manager! (in my opinion).

Robert Green, yes you know him from his CAD Manager blog, or Cadlyst articles or have had the opportunity to be in one of his session at numerous conferences, has recently writen an article specific to this topic on the new CAD Managers Center site. 
Very insightful!

Read his article here: http://cadmanager.autodesk.com/competitive-advantage/how-to-advance-from-cad-manager-to-cio/

Also check out the resources available on the CAD Managers Center site. Worth checking out and bookmarking.

Are you a CIO in the making? 
Your firm or office may not even know that they need a CIO, just like they didn't know they needed a BIM Manager until it became apparent. 

Great advice I've followed for most of my career, "Take on the Role that you Aspire too".


Thursday, 12 May 2016

The 8 Worst Things You Can Do In Revit

The 8 Worst Things You Can Do In Revit

1. Never leave inserted AutoCAD DWGs in a Revit model. Although you can insert a block or drawing into Revit it can cause severe performance and stability issues. DWG files bloat the model by using far more memory than pure Revit entities. If the AutoCAD file is necessary as a background, linking the file in rather than importing it can prevent and reduce some of these issues.

2. Don’t let unresolved Revit warnings languish. Large numbers of unresolved warnings can seriously degrade model performance and stability. Resolve warnings as they occur to keep them from building up in the model. Periodically check the “Warnings” tool on the “Manage” ribbon to see what warnings (if any) have built up in the model.

3. Don’t use Revit Families from Manufacturers without checking them first. Building Product Manufacturers are responding to your requests for Revit content by having families of their products created in Revit. These families may look great when viewed, but if they contain too much detail they can quickly bloat your model.

4. Don’t over-model. One of the most common mistakes among new users of Revit is to put too much detail in the model. Determine how much detail is really necessary to convey your design intent, and then monitor your team to prevent over-modeling.

5. Don’t use in-place families too often. While it is inevitable that you will have to use in-place families in a typical project, be selective in their use. If you create an in-place family and later decide that it should be a component family, there is absolutely no way to convert it. If you must use an in place family, do not duplicate it. For example, if you have to use in-place families to create light coves in several rooms, create them all in one in-place family; don’t create a different in-place family for each room. 

6. Don’t over-constrain model geometry in a project file. Dimension and alignment constraints add overhead to the file and increase the potential for the dreaded “constraints not satisfied” error message. If you’re not absolutely sure that you should constrain something, then you probably shouldn’t.

7. Don’t lose control of your views. Exercise good view management. Don’t create unnecessary views and don’t leave views unnamed. During the course of a project, the project browser can become populated with a large number of unnecessary views that add to file size.

8. Don’t over-use Groups. An inordinate number of groups in a project can impact performance and bloat the model. Make sure to purge unused groups from the model regularly and turn off the “Group and Associate” option when using the Array tool. 

I found #5 :-)