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Thread: Concept: MEP Families for Consulting Engineers

  1. #1
    Forum Addict josephpeel's Avatar
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    Concept: MEP Families for Consulting Engineers

    Greetings Reviteers,

    I work for a consulting engineers that are primarily involved in the conceptual and technical design of MEP installations in early phases of a project. One of the biggest difficulties we have is this:
    For us the specification of manufacturer specific components comes at the END of our design process and even then we are much more concerned with the functional specification of components. Where we specify a particular manufacturers model (Primarily as a way of controling quality. Unlike the next guy down the line who has to buy and install the stuff, we have no real preference as long as it does the job.) we always include "or equivalent" in the text. However EVERY source of comercial or open Revit families available seems to be based on, if not made by, specific manufacturers. Add to this the fact that we want to do lots of standard calculations and analasis with standard parameters, while every manufacturer seems to have thier own, and we have a need for something much simpler which is primarily just a container for specification data, a 3D form and which functions in Revit.

    So I have been working on a sort of template family which has the following functions:
    - Generic Annotation for display on plan views. A common complaint from our reviters is that often components are above eachother in the 3D model but then annotation symbols obscure eachother in the plan, so the annotation can be freely offset in 2 directions. Its also a shame that nested generic annotations cant be set to always be vertical on a drawing so rotation is included.
    - Simple 3D Object. A block with length, width, height and also offset from the origin point allows for the gross physical space required for any object to be reserved in the model.
    - Rotation of 3D model into Z direction. This is included to allow the generic annotation to remain horizontal (and visible) while the object can be aligned with a sloping ceiling or floor.
    - Linked Shared Model. Allows for the simple 3D geometry to be swapped out for a detailed manufacturers object if required. As it is a nested family this has no effect on the standard parameters in the host. The only limitation is that any data in the model needs to be replicated in the Type properties of the host (And Connectors must also be in the host, which I am still working on).
    The idea is to have enough flexibility for any specified/designed thing in each category to be possible through the type properties and a shared 3d model.

    Before I start making category and company specific versions I thought it fair to share it here, as so many of the solutions I have used are from this forum and the initial idea for a 'Family placeholder' came from a discussion with regular contributor ekkonap.
    This was particularly useful. Rotation should be such a simple thing but revit makes it very awkward to do.
    The ability to use positive and negative offsets from reference planes for some components comes from this excellent tip.
    So much kudos all round!

    I welcome comments and criticism on the family structure and also the concept of working with simple host families.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by josephpeel; August 30th, 2012 at 04:46 PM.
    DMapes, chalo80 and Ning Zhou like this.

  2. #2
    Moderator snowyweston's Avatar
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    Thank you for your contributions Joseph.

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    This is the problem I have been having with developing our generic MEP library. Do I go as basic as possible, or keep some semblance of visual distinguishable traits (for example, what the components look like from the OOTB MEP equipment).

    A placeholder graphic is quite simple when it's something architectural or structural, as the only things that really matters are the description of what should replace it down the line, the necessary parameters/information, and the relative size. However, MEP components get the hurdle of needing connectors which makes a placeholder exponentially more difficult. How do you plan to create a placeholder for some component that can have many possible locations for connections? This is likely inexperience with dealing with the conceptual/technical design portion of your industry talking.

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    Senior Member Ning Zhou's Avatar
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    great thread, thanks Joseph for sharing.

    we (electrical) used face-based for most if not all families, natural choice for "ideal" situation, but got burnt quite a lot due to "un-ideal" situations, so non-host will be on our agenda if we do decide to make a switch, here're my questions:

    1) i noticed that you unchecked Work Plane-Based but checked Always vertical, any particular reason / benefit? i'm thinking Work Plane-Based will offer more options when you load into project, or is it just a bad idea?

    2) seems there's no way to switch directly from face-based to non-host, even by using API, to my knowledge, you can use C/M or API to switch from other hosted to face-based, any workaround?

  5. #5
    Forum Addict josephpeel's Avatar
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    Thanks for the comments.
    Andrew K - It is possible to rotate and position the extrusion which hosts connectors, so matching the position of a connector to different 3D models for different types should just be a question of filling in the offsets and angle. I will have to make seperate families for each function but generaly a particular category, say an air terminal or a chiller, will always have the same number and type of connections regardless of the model. Of course some things will have to be custom made but my goal is standardising most of the categories we use all the time. I need to research further what is possible with arrays of connectors, maybe a "Valve" family with 2,3 or 4 connectors?

    Ning Zhou - Yes my intention is to always use workplane based where possible. I despise face based components (The ones with the placeholder mass in them) because they produce far more limitations than advantages (Not that moving with the wall when the architect changes it without telling you is an advantage IMHO). Our Electrical guys hate them as well and are always asking me to make generic versions. Not being able to copy things from one room/floor to another, or even move them if placed on a curved face is a real pita.
    Workplane Based can also be placed on faces if required (Top becomes Front and Back becomes Top unless Always Vertical) and there is a workaround for changing them back to Level Based components.
    (Workplane Based - Always Vertical -On Face) to (Workplane Based on Level) or (Level Based): Not possible. Only workplanes parallel to the current one can be selected. The trick is to temporarily switch the family for one which is (Workplane Based - Not Always Vertical).
    (Workplane Based - Not Always Vertical - On Face) to (Workplane Based - On Level): Use Pick New Host -> Workplane -> Click on level. (An api tool to do this automatically for all selected objects would be nice)
    (Workplane Based - On Level) to (Workplane Based - Always Vertical) or (Level based): Always possible.
    Last edited by josephpeel; August 31st, 2012 at 09:18 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Ning Zhou's Avatar
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    thanks Joseph for detailed comments, and love your avatar -> revision cloud actually being built!
    i'll lean towards non-host + work plane-based + not vertical approach, more hosting options and easy to change hosting after placement.
    the only problem is how to change existing face-based families to non-host ones, perhaps redo all face-based families is the only option?!

  7. #7
    Senior Member ekkonap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ning Zhou View Post
    i'll lean towards non-host + work plane-based + not vertical approach, more hosting options and easy to change hosting after placement.
    The function of the always vertical property is to make sure the GA shows up on placement. Other solutions are modeled or DC symbols, or seperate tags.

    If a family is placed at an angle to the view, a nested GA or any symbolic lines are invisible. So I figured rotating the nested model element occurs less often and is less complex (mostly vertical or horizontal) then placing a family on any face and then having to apply (and then move) a tag. If needed, the nested GA can be turned into a proper tag in no time.

    Joseph, tnx for sharing. I'll try to put up my version as well.
    By the way, face based elements can be placed on a workplane since the 2012 version, just not through the software extension you are using. Pointed that out to your coworkers and to the software manufacturer last month, forgot to include you apparantly. Not quite sure what the behaviour in MEP2013 will be, and if updated families will behave the same as new/OOTB ones.
    Last edited by ekkonap; August 31st, 2012 at 06:21 PM.
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