Bowman Consultings New Point Cloud Modeling Workflow Speeds Revit MEP Modeling Dramatically

Revit loves perfect. We all know its an incredibly powerful tool for new construction design which is almost always perfectly plumb, perfectly parallel. However, in the as-built world, perfect is merely a lofty ideal brought to earth by the reality of sagging pipes, bowing walls and undocumented retrofits.

Designing perfect in Revit is straightforward, but modeling reality in Revit, especially as-built MEP, can be a challengeeven downright excruciatingleading to blown schedules, unhappy clients and frustrated employees. Like many, Bowman Consulting, an ENR 500 Design Firm and one of the fastest-growing companies on the ENR list, had been struggling with their as-built MEP workflow.

Were huge fans of Revit, but it just wasnt designed for the built MEP environment, said Michael Stys, Director of Technology Solutions at Bowman. Modeling in Revit from a point clouds is painful and simply takes too long. We, and indeed the entire Revit community, have been waiting for a better workflow. Now I think weve found it.

What they found was EdgeWise MEP for Revit, the new feature extraction software from ClearEdge3D. Bowman has been participating in ClearEdge3Ds Technical Advisory Board which gives them a first look at the new technologies coming out of the ClearEdge lab. The company recently released a beta version of EdgeWise MEP for Revit and the results have been impressive.

Bowman tested EdgeWise MEP for Revit on a difficult underground parking garage project in Crystal City, VA, a few miles from the Pentagon. The 187,000 square foot garage, built in the 70s, and the entire office complex is undergoing a massive refurbishment. Bowman was hired to scan and model the MEP systems, which will be merged with an existing BIM of the complex.

Bowman sent two technicians into the field with a Riegl VZ-400 to capture the parking garage as-built conditions. The team spent three days collecting data from 78 set-ups, by any benchmark a very efficient scanning output. We use several different multi-station adjustment techniques that have cut our control time in half and produced much more accurate data sets, said Michael Pfaff, Laser Scan Team Leader at Bowman.

After registration, Bowman used the automated feature extraction technology at the core of EdgeWise MEP for Revit to extract the pipes on the two levels of scan data. Processing time for this step took less than two hours and any pipes missed by the automation algorithms were quickly added with the softwares semi-automated extraction tool. For missed pipes, you simply draw a rectangle around the cylinder points and left clicka pipe extracts instantly. Its simple and fast.

Next Pfaff used EdgeWises quality assurance tools to verify the accuracy of each extracted pipe. When satisfied that the pipes matched the point cloud, Pfaff ran the softwares automated connection routines to connect pipes across occluded regions of the model. Modeling occluded regions of a point cloud where no data exists burns time and is fraught with human error, said Kevin Williams, Chief Scientist at ClearEdge and inventor of the extraction algorithms at the core of EdgeWise. Our automated connection technology extends the pipe across shadowed regions and joins it with the correct pipe to complete the pipe run.

After about 30 more hours cleaning the data, Pfaff was ready to export the model to Revit. Theres a Revit button in EdgeWise and one click brings the model into a Revit workspace as either pipes or pipe placeholders. Data such as pipe diameter is imported so converting to the correct pipe family and type only takes a few minutes, he said. Our deliverable was to create an accurate pipe place holder model so the MEP folks could assign the pipe families and integrate it into the existing BIM.

Stys and Pfaff estimate this new workflow has dramatically increased their MEP modeling throughput. Using traditional software and our old workflow, modeling pipes in a project like this would have taken us 280 man hours. Using EdgeWise MEP for Revit, it took us only 42 hours, equating to more than a 6x increase in throughput. This translates into a huge savings in time and cost for us. I cant imagine modeling the old way ever again.

For more information about EdgeWise MEP for Revit visit their website

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