Tutorial: Creating a Basic Revit Model for Digital Twin testing

My company, R.O.I. Consulting Group, does Facilities consulting for a few IWMS and workplace management solutions. Not only are we using Autodesk Tandem for ourselves, we will also be coaching our clients through implementations or just Proof of Concept (POC) efforts.

So, let's say you want to try out Tandem without trying to justify expenses and write up RFPs and hire consultants, etc and just do it yourself.

First thought is that, at this point, Tandem will accept .rvt and .ifc formats only. 

If you don't have a Revit model yet, but want to proceed with testing, just download a trial of Revit LT and trace it. Eventually, you will want to have a full version of Revit, but if you need something to show people in order to get funding, this is a perfectly good place to start.

This is the current model of our offices, after I tweaked it and loaded it into Tandem. I'll add MEP components at some later time.

Following are the steps you can take to make a simple Revit model of one of your locations to start with. DISCLAIMER: To any design and construction side folks... we are not building from this, it is already built, please don't come at me for the lack of precision. I'm not showing how to design a project (because that is outside of my skillset). 

Creating a Revit Model for Tandem from a CAD Floorplan:

1.       Open Revit LT and create new project from Commercial – Imperial template

2.       On the Insert Tab, click Link CAD or Import CAD

3.       Navigate to your CAD file and select it.

TIP: Drag a folder from the navigation list to the shortcuts panel on the left, to make it easier to find your way back to this directory next time. (or click the Tools dropdown on the lower left of this dialog box to add this directory to Favorites or the shortcuts panel.) This tip works in AutoCAD and other Autodesk software.

4.       On the Architecture tab, click on the Wall dropdown to select Wall: Structural and trace the exterior walls and any known load-bearing walls in the floor plate.

5.       On the Architecture tab, click on the wall dropdown to select Wall: Architectural and trace the remaining walls on the floor plate.

6.       Add the columns to your model. This can be accessed through the Structure panel of the Structure tab, or the Build panel of the Architecture tab. Though on the structure tab, you are automatically selecting a structural column, on the Architecture tab, you must select between that and architectural columns.

a.       Start with the structural columns, as pictured on the right

b.       Then add Architectural columns where needed, as pictured on the left


7.       On the Build panel of the Architecture ribbon tab, click Door and insert doors where appropriate.

8.       On the same panel, click Window to insert windows where appropriate.

TIP: To hide your floorplan and assess the current state of your drawing, go to the Graphics panel of the View tab and click on Visibility / Graphics.

Navigate to the Imported Categories tab of the Visibility/Graphic Overrides for Floor Plan dialog box and uncheck the option ‘Show imported categories for this view’.

You can also control visibility by layer.

Click Apply and OK to save the settings.

Let’s compare the before and after below. You can see we still need to add casework, furniture, plumbing fixtures, and the Room objects… and I missed 3 Architectural columns I should have placed.

9.       We should first add Floor > Floor: Architectural from the Build panel of the Architecture tab. It will prompt you to select the bounding walls of your floor plate and will generate the floor object for you.

10.   For the casework, go to the Insert ribbon tab and the Load from the Library panel and click the Load Family button.

I’m going to keep things simple and choose base cabinets and some countertops. Feel free to check the standard families and replace the generic ones with something that reflects what is actually built out in the space. You might also find a site like BIMObject useful in locating a variety of furniture, fixtures, and other Revit families.

11.   Once your families are loaded, use the Project Browser on the left side of the screen to find your item, expand any available options, then right-click on that option and select Create Instance from the menu.

12.   Add elevators and other building components as needed.

13.   Follow the steps for creating a Room object here. You’ll want to make use of the Room Separator tool, to add bounding lines to any spaces without doors to break them up and to cubicle areas. And then use the Room tool to add the final room object with the remaining space around the cubicles. 

Wondering why I insist on polylining (sic) cubicles? 
I explained the reasons in this article. 

14.   Update the room tags to reflect the type of space and the room numbers being used, by clicking on the tag text.

15.   Under the Room and Area panel of the Architecture tab, click the down arrow to access the Color Schemes function. You can shade the rooms by Name or other parameters.

16.   Once you have your scheme established (it should be generated automatically, but you can adjust colors and hatches if you like), you will need to enable it in the Graphics pane on the left, using the Color Scheme field.

17.   Now it is time to upload our model to Tandem. Open your project from the home page, click the Files button on the left and select Import Model. We should not have any Phases to choose between in the new model we created, so all we do is name the floor in the Label field.

Now you have a basic model. You can go back and tweak things as you notice issues. 

For example, our lobby couches had been moved, and one of the elevators was facing the wrong direction, and some walls are glass instead of drywall. 

It is super easy to replace a model in Tandem once you have modified it. Just click on the name of your model in the Files tab and you'll get the Update Model dialog box. 

Video Tutorials

Get Started with Tandem - https://intandem.autodesk.com/resource/get-started-with-tandem/

Create a site, import model, work with filters to look at elements, add template to help with assets

Capture Asset Data - https://intandem.autodesk.com/resource/capture-asset-data/

Specify a facilities template and map assets, it applies parameters and counts as tagged assets

Capture data – select assets in viewer and assign data in properties panel

Working with the Inventory in tabular format (can export/import data using Excel)

Defining Tagged Assets https://intandem.autodesk.com/resource/defining-tagged-assets/

  • Asset is an object (furniture, equipment, door)
  • Parameters are properties we want to track (installation date, mfr, warranty end date, etc)
  • A group of parameters is called a Parameter Set
  • Classification – way to categorize objects, we can create what we want or use existing (master format, uniformat)
  • Different types of facilities might have different data needed
  • Can apply parameter individually by Element or as a group by Type
  • We create a template and include the classifications and parameters to include

Specify Data Requirements - https://intandem.autodesk.com/resource/specify-data-requirements/


Digital Twin Webinar October 19th - IFMA

I was fortunate enough this year to be asked to help prepare a survey on Digital Twin with Autodesk and the IFMA Information Technology Community. This will be an annual survey, so please keep an eye on our social medias when we announce the survey run again next spring.

Announcement for webinar, with speaker names and photos

It is a panel discussion, which I will be moderating. We will hear from a variety of viewpoints, because digital twin (much like IWMS) is going to vary based on the needs of each use case and user.

During the Webinar, I'll briefly review some highlights of the 2022 IFMA Survey on Digital Twin, then we have some major topics we will cover. There will also be time at the end for Q&A from the attendees.

The whitepaper detailing the entirety of the survey and key takeaways will be published at a later time, I will share when it becomes available for download.

  • Melanie Stone - Representing Facility Owners and Operators
  • Mark Mergenschroer - Representing Design Software (but a past Owner himself)
  • Erik Jaspers - Representing IWMS Software
  • Chris Lorrain - Representing the Civil Industry and Laser Scanning
  • Brett Spindler - Representing IT/OT (or IoT)

IT/OT convergence is the integration of information technology (IT) systems with operational technology (OT) systems. IT systems are used for data-centric computing; OT systems monitor events, processes and devices, and make adjustments in enterprise and industrial operations.

Register for the Webinar here: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_-smRy_GpSRaCC_GWZFUTIw

Thank you to IFMA ITC, Autodesk, and R.O.I. Consulting for sponsoring this survey and webinar!


Revit and Room Bounding for Cubicles and FM

A few weeks ago, I was tagged in a thread on Twitter. 

A designer, seeking to improve processes and workflow, was asking how to improve their client's method, because they felt it could be done more effectively. 

That's the type of seeking I LOVE to see. 

Except... the client was already doing what they had to do for their lifecycle and could not change it.

The question came down to cubicles, and storing data related to it. He felt that the addition of rooms/room bounding lines was labor and effort that was not necessary. But, I was able to confirm for him... 

Cubicles need to be rooms. 


Glad you asked. 

When a Facility Owner / Operator connects their Revit Model to their IWMS [disambiguation], the room records in Revit will connect to the room records in the target database. 

Everything in asset management systems start with a room record.

The reason Facility Managers specify design output / handover / deliverables in .RVT or .DWG is that their CAFM has a plug-in that installs with either of those programs (and those programs only), which connects known entity types in Revit with specific tables in the IWMS.

Any data that are a part of those specific types of entities in Revit, will populate as metadata into the appropriate records (and all of their interconnected tables) in the database.

It was only through a mutual connection that I was randomly brought into this conversation to speak for the owner's side. So, please... ask your FMs WHY before you go assuming they are wrong in their approach and move forward with your ideas for improvement after that point, if they are still needed.

Your data has SO MUCH LIFE beyond the construction or renovation you are currently working on. And sometimes, a little more effort is necessary to fit with our myriad other systems, but it makes less effort in the long run throughout the lifecycle.

Also, do not ask the PMs on the client side about BIM standards, they have high turnover and don't know why the FMs do 99% of what they do. If you want an actual answer, find the SME in the receiving facility, working with the CAFM, they'll be able to tell you. 

Curious about the roles and responsibilities on the post-construction side? 

I explain PMs, FMs, SMEs and other related groups in this article. 

There was an Autodesk Discussion Group thread ages ago (intended to be working with FMDesktop but it still applies) to how we need cubicles to be Rooms in Revit today with ARCHIBUS or Maximo or Tririga or FM:Systems FMInteract et al. if you would like to verify what I have stated here.

Want to learn more?

You can listen to this podcast where I discuss document handover for facilities clients

For further information on who the owners are, and how they access and utilize your data throughout the lifecycle of the building, please see this video presentation.

Here are two back to back presentations on BIM in FM, the first speaker is from Penn State. We did not collaborate beforehand, but both of our presentations aligned. THESE are the issues important to FM.

Lastly, I'll point you to this podcast episode of BIMThoughts on how Facilities is more than just HVAC. Having multiple people involved in the discussion, it is a far more organic discourse and touches on a variety of facilities concerns.

Story time!

This specific (massive) renovation project was back before I mandated BIM in my facility, so we were only discussing AutoCAD deliverables, but serves as a perfect example of communication saving time, and lack of communication wasting time:

Contractor #1: Asked me why we needed layer standards and why we needed one plotted output sheet per dwg file.

A1: we need layer standards so we can quickly identify and merge content, or quickly locate specific items during an emergency (I worked in a hospital). 

He countered with, do you merge the sections and details into those plans? Do you search for layers in sections and details?

No. No we do not. Sections and details are searched for by their identifier and not merged. BAM, he saved his team a load of effort, because he could skip schedules and details and sections that did not matter to us (which I noted in later revisions of the standards). 

A2: We needed one plotted output sheet per file (example Sheet M1 is one file, Sheet M2 is another file), because we used a document management database. Any of the 200 people on the maintenance staff could filter through a dozen pieces of information and drill down to just the 'blueprint' that they needed. They click the link and that specific file comes up and they can access it through a DWG viewer quickly and easily, in case of emergency. 

No worries, he ran some type of script that duplicated his files and then removed all but one of the layout tabs, bam, one layout tab per file.

Contractor #2: Never spoke to us at all. Just told their PM who told our PM that the CAD standards were stupid and unattainable and would take over a year to complete, etc. 

That PM (I'm looking at you, Leslie Hoffman! <3 ) called a meeting with their designers, both PMs, and me to talk it out face to face.

A1: Layers are impossible to translate with any speed or accuracy. 

... they were renaming them by hand. 

Never used a layer translator or script or anything. I told them point blank that Contractor #1 had completed all of their revisions in less than 2 weeks, though their scope was larger. I delicately suggested they should hit Google or ask me for suggestions on how our other contractors are handling their compliance. (As an aside, EVERY design team, should have at least one person on staff who is capable of scripting changes on a large scale. That's why we have computers instead of drafting tables these days, for efficiency. I shouldn't be the one responsible for teaching my contractors this stuff, FMs have other things to do.)

A2: Cropping model space to meet the single layout requirement was impossible with any speed.

~blink blink~ 

They took (and I could see where they'd think this) our requirement for document management regarding a single layout to mean that not just layouts were being manipulated but what they showed in model space. Model space was not ever mentioned in my documents (I later added clarifying language that only Layouts applied, modelspace could remain the same without impacting us). 

BONUS ANSWER: They did not ask, but it was worth stating, our RFP included our specs for deliverable, it was part of a bid, and was available to them from before the project even started. Why were those standards not read until handover?

They could have started out using AIA layering and ensuring their pipe labels were done correctly, instead of going back to fix it later. Set up one template file up front that complies, and use that for everything dealing with our projects. Easy-peasy at the end.


Job Search Dos and Do Nots

I do the annual surveying of the design industry, which includes questions about salaries, job security, benefits, etc. Consistently, year after year, 80% of people say they got their jobs through someone they knew, not through just cold applying to jobs.

Aka, networking!

image from forbes
How DO you get started in networking?

  1. Get to know your local design community. Are there autodesk user groups or trade organizations? Join them. 
    • Show up, ask questions. If you can, answer questions.
  2. Display your knowledge. If you can present in public, offer to present to schools or local educational events (the AIA, AGC, etc). 
    • If not, contact someone who blogs about your industry and ask if you can write a guest post, they’ll appreciate having content written for them, and their readers will hear your name, and their network might share your topic with others.
  3. Not up for talking or don’t have an article topic in mind? Hit up some forums or social media hashtags and try answering questions. 
    • Even if you cannot answer them, commiserating or clarifying their questions can still help you develop a reputation.
  4. Ask folks which skills are most in demand? 
    • I tend to find that folks around me who have designed MEPFP components are very rare, so studying up on that can help you find these jobs to stand out in, and they pay more than a lot of other specialities.

How about some DO NOT dos?

  1. Do not post on forums “I’m looking for a job”. 
    • You will most likely get deleted, and no one cares if you’re looking for a job, they care what you know and can help them with, and that you can read the rules of the site you are using.
  2. Do NOT cold contact hiring managers or internal recruiters, or try to pressure your mutual contacts to pass on their information. 
    • That is completely unprofessional and not respecting of the person’s time.
  3. If you do have a friend inside a target company do NOT apply to a job before talking to them.
    • Their HR Software might have a referral engine that depends on them making the referral first, so that if you apply first and then ask for a referral later, they cannot do it.
  4. Do not be invisible online. Have a LinkedIn profile at the very least, WITH a photo. 
    • Almost everyone in HR and a lot of hiring managers will Google you and be suspicious if you have zero online footprint.
  5.  Do NOT add people on LinkedIn and then immediately slide into their DMs with 'who can you introduce me to'? 
    • I know finding a job is your priority, but you need to build a relationship with people before asking them to perform uncompensated labor for you. 

The main thing to keep in mind is that people do not hire someone for skills, they hire people they will want to work with. If you get along with them, and have a good reputation, you will find it much easier to discover opportunities.

See other online networking tips here: 

How to keep up with social media

How to get started with social media