Matthew Sheales, National Consulting MEP and Content Solutions Manager at A2K Technologies, is an expert in the field of design and manufacturers content with more than a decade of experience in providing time-saving solutions to customers as well as helping manufacturers get their product in front of customers at the design stage.
What’s the importance of content?
In the world of BIM, content is king. Content not only provides the geometry that represents the object, it is also the container that holds the ‘I’ (or information) in BIM. Unlike AutoCAD and manual drafting where you use lines, arcs and circles to represent objects, you really can’t create a BIM model without good BIM content.
When would you use generic content?
Generic content is great at the beginning of the design when you’re really just working out how the plan is going to work and what the building is going to look like both from the outside and inside. Government projects don’t allow the designer to specify specific manufacturers, so generic content can work well there as well.
When would you use manufacturers content?
Once the design is starting to be refined, that is when we see people wanting to place manufacturers content so they can clearly see how the content is going to work in the virtual building they are creating.
Depending on how smart the content is, using manufacturers content may impose warnings when you exceed the design specifications for that product. For example, a supply air grille may give you a warning when you exceed the maximum airflow through the grille, or a manufacturers window family may show a warning if the panel of glass is too large for the frame to hold in a given wind zone. There are many more examples where a piece of manufacturers content can aid you in the design process.
The other benefit of manufacturers content is that you can get product codes and other codes that will certainly help in a design and construction type of project.
What obstacles do you see to people using manufacturers content?
The problem with manufacturers content is it may not suit your office standards. If you have a generic piece of content that can be made to represent a product from a manufacturer, you may be more inclined to use your own generic content knowing it works with your standards.
What’s the importance of standards?
Having standards helps ensure consistency across your content. In Revit this can be from the sub categories used, which impacts the project’s object styles and view templates, to the shared parameters used, which work with your schedules. Even if you use a different standard to the standard of the content, knowing that all the content works with a particular standard means converting that content to your standard will be a lot easier, and in-fact there are tools out there that can batch process these kinds of things quite quickly.
Is it important to manage content?
Yes. There are two parts to managing content. The first part is to make it accessible. If the people working on the models can’t quickly and easily access the content they need, then they will start turning to other methods for ‘acquiring’ content. This can mean they search the internet for content or they waste time creating a low-quality family themselves to use in the project.
The second part is to manage and maintain the health of the content. These are things like I’ve mentioned earlier, such as sub categories and shared parameters etc. One of the things that is notoriously hard to manage, maintain and access in Revit is system families, so things like walls, floors, railings, stairs etc.
What’s A2K’s approach to content?
We aim to provide a holistic approach to content. As a creator of content we maintain the Design Content website and the content on the BIMMEPaus website. But a holistic approach to content is so much more than just putting content into the hands of the users. As a result of this approach, we offer a number of services, from content audits, to content maintenance and management, highly functional content suites with manuals and training on how to use them, and content creation courses. We have searched far and wide and even considered developing a content management solution until we found AVAIL.
AVAIL is an awesome tool for managing your content. From a Revit perspective it allows you to easily manage and access those elusive system families, drafting views, schedules, and sheets, but it is so much more than that as it will manage any file type you want to put into it, from images and music to PDFs and videos, absolutely anything. All the time it is helping you manage this, it is also providing analytics on how the content is being used, meaning you can make informed decisions about your content, not just guesses.
Currently we are on the search for a product that will help our users maintain the health of their content and have found a really neat product that is truly simple and yet powerful at maintaining the health of your content.
We are proud of our focus on providing a holistic content solution to our customers and see the competitive advantages they experience as a result.