They're Not Just Dollar Signs & Triangles!

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They're Not Just Dollar Signs & Triangles!

The Technology Used to Document the Technology in Your Facility

July 20, 2018 by Eddy Bussiere

Of all disciplines, Electrical deliverables are by far the most schematic in nature. Aside from electrical equipment & some lighting fixtures, very few of the items on electrical drawings are drawn to scale.

“Dollar Signs and Triangles” is what people see along with many other cryptic symbols that need to be accompanied with a well described legend.

When I started working at my current job there were designers who would markup a set of drawings with their design. That set of drawings would then be handed off to be “cadded up”. That CAD operator never really needed to know much about the project, all they had to do was place a symbol, and maybe some text in the spot designated on the markup…it was copy drafting.

It wasn’t uncommon to see one set of markups was split up among several people. If the stars aligned properly, one person worked on floor plans, one filled out schedules and one worked on details. The CAD operator’s biggest worry was that they were on the correct layer and the symbols were scaled properly to be legible.

BIM and the tools that were able to market themselves as being the obvious authoring and review choices in our industry showed up around here in 2007/2008. Revit & Navisworks were going to reduce time and money wasted by allowing for greater coordination with other disciplines and would result in fewer errors/omissions that would create issues on site during construction…It was going to be heaven!

Here we are a decade later. Are we seeing the “whole team” collaboration benefits that we all thought we’d see?

It depends…It depends on the type of contract, the design team & the client. If the entire project team (consisting of the design team, construction team and owners) is involved & committed from day one and a clear BIM execution plan is in place, then sure the benefits of BIM can be seen.

In projects that are Design/Bid/Build, a lot of times the 3D models we create are used for no more than generating traditional 2D construction documents, with the 3D models not even referenced by the contractors.

So (in Design/Bid/Build projects), is the time required to create a 3D Revit model entirely wasted if it’s never used?

Not really. Even though we may not be coordinating with the rest of the team as tightly as we would in a more integrated project, we are seeing benefits is when it comes to coordination within our own discipline. By creating a model with connected electrical systems and making use of the scheduling tools as much as we can, the accuracy & consistency between the work that may have been split up by several “Cad operators” previously is increased significantly. The time spent making changes down the road can significantly be reduced. The database nature of a Revit file allows for very useful information to be extracted.

Properly connected electrical systems can turn late design changes such as a change to a luminaires input wattage into a simple task when you know that the calculated load on the entire building will be updated instantly.

Those Dollar Signs and Triangles may not look like much in a plan view, 3D view or elevation view either. We can, however, determine the number of data outlets in a building of any size pretty quickly or how many special function light switches we need on level 3 pretty easily. All using the scheduling tools that Revit supplies out of the box.

It took a long time for us to get to the point that we’re at with this. But I think that if you asked any production person in our office who has worked on both types of projects, they’d say they’d take Revit over AutoCAD.

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