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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Two Revit customer stories and two opposite endings #Revit

Today was an interesting day. I had a meeting this morning with a Structural Contractor. I decided on a completely different approach from my normal sales meeting. I was going to ask them lots of questions and figure out what they wanted to to do with BIM. I started by giving them a little background about CADD Centers and let them know that I'm a little overly passionate about BIM.

My first question was "What do you know about BIM?" My audience was the owner's son (project manager), estimator, purchasing director and another project manager. Not one of them had heard about BIM. Two hours later, and lots of future blog posts about what we discussed, I opened up Revit Structure, showed them a 2D to BIM conversion we did recently for Turner Construction, and then they gave me a thumb drive with DWGs for a project they're bidding.

Since, like many of you, I suck at knowing where everything has moved on the Ribbon, and the fact that I'm fluent in Revit Architecture and demoing it (shhh....don't tell Autodesk that a salesperson did an actual technical demo), Revit Structure is not exactly the same as Architecture. Anyway, I brought in their 1st Floor DWG, created 5 stories of levels, converted the grids to Revit grids, put in smart columns, added walls, made the slab and copied everything up 5 stories using paste aligned command. Next of course, was the 3D section, scheduling floors, walls & columns and dragging everything onto sheets.

Oh yeah, did I mention their estimator is an architect who had been using AutoCAD for 15 years? She was blown away by how easy Revit was. I'll tell you how the story ends in a minute, but first, an actual snippet from the architect we met with last week that I briefly mentioned in another post.

We have chosen to up-grade (over time) to a more current version of AutoCAD. Our decision in part centered on the ability to utilize our current library of details and sections. Although we felt there were useful tools within Revit, we felt its use in preparing our Architectural Construction Documents was limited and did not warrant reinventing our production procedures.
That architecture firm is using AutoCAD 2004. I knew before we met with them that they wouldn't move to Revit. By stating that they were choosing AutoCAD over Revit to prepare CDs is just about the lamest answer I could imagine. Limited? Reinventing product procedures? Fail! I've given myslelf the lifetime role of 'Challenging The Status Quo." How do you use a library of sections when each buliding is different? Definitely not a candidate for IPD projects.

Back to the structural contractor. After the meeting, I briefly met with the owner of the company. He told me how great it was at a meeting with a Revit contractor where they asked him to give them the best construction methodology for a design build project they were working on. There was a Revit user in the room and as he was talking, they were building the model according to his recommenations for column sizes and slab type. They immediately had the quantities and generated an estimate. All of this from 3 conceptual drawings. The best part? I had suggested during the meeting that Revit would allow them to become more consultative that they could go in early on projects and recommend building types based on most cost efficient and fastest to erect. Wow, the owner actually worked on a project doing exactly what I said they could start doing.

Well, I left and went to go 1/2 a block away as I had spotted a truss manufacturer that would have been a perfect candidate for Tools4Revit Truss +. After that, I stopped by my favorite Miami architect's office who told me he's actually going to work with a contractor on an Integrated Project Delivery Contract. An architect who is actually pursuing and IPD job. Not running away from BIM and IPD, but running headfirst into that wall (of profit). As usual, he brought a tear to my eye that there is hope out there for those who "get it".

Well, to end the story, an hour after I left the structural firm, I got a call from them that they had to get the software immediately (Revit Structure Network license and Navisworks Manage Network license all with subscription) and would it be possible to train 5 people next week. I couldn't believe a 2 hour meeting generated a $21,000 order when they had NEVER heard of BIM or Revit before I showed up .

When you compare this to the architect I mentioned above who said that Revit would limit their ability to create construction documents, you can really see the typical WTF days that I live with. The contractors buy Revit sight unseen and architects say it will impede their ability to create CDs.

I must tell you something I thought about today. I am truly in awe of how one tiny piece of software is having such a huge impact on the entire AEC industry. Not since Microsoft introduced Windows to replace DOS, have I seen anything like this. It's just amazing to me how much impact Revit is having on workflow, process, design, engineering and construction. Then we have the "
did not warrant reinventing our production procedures" status quo bullshit statement.

I love every day and every conversation I have with those who get it. Almost forgot...Richard D., aren't you happy I made a blog post that didn't mention LEED or green building once? Did that just for you even though they did have a LEED AP on staff and it was a part of this morning's conversation.

I hope all of you like these real life stories. For those of you fully using Revit, I'm sure they're boring, but for those of you trying to get your company to switch, especially in our current economic situation, I hope these stories scare the crap out of you for not having started using Revit 5 years ago. There's still time, so don't worry, but make sure you migrate to Revit before the recession ends and you get too busy again to have time to switch to Revit in the middle of a project.



Anonymous,  August 19, 2009 at 1:15 AM  

Great story. Once when I asked an Autocad Tech that was extremely knowledgeable in said software on why he didn't want to learn Revit; he said that it doesn't export properly to Autocad for CD's and printing. How's that for an answer/excuse? Without much surprise he is now out of a job after having 15+ years experience in Structural drafting in Autocad, on the other hand I still have my job with 2+ years exp. in Revit Structure.

We also use "standard" detail libraries. Even though every building that we model is different, the connections and their details can be created by using a library that has most typical connections. We only use unique details when we don't have a standard detail for the occasion. This saves us many hours of repetitious drafting. When we first jumped into Revit we made our first mission to transfer all our of Autocad details to Revit. Even though this was accomplished with 20 different engineers and designers for two weeks straight, after it was all done it has become very rewarding and a great investment. All we have to do now is import views from files and voila, 80% of our details are done for any project. BTW, if you need someone to run circles around you on Revit Structure 2010 let me know. Oh before I forget this is MiRod407. I would've replied to you through Twitter, but I think I'm slightly passed the 140 character limit.

Mike Rodriguez

Anonymous,  August 19, 2009 at 9:05 AM  

re "don't tell Autodesk that a salesperson did an actual technical demo" ~ What's that about? Maybe I live in a different world but can't see much point in talking to a tech app salesman who didn't do a tech demo!

Re Architects vs contractors, dunno if you saw my recent LinkedIn status comment "Why is it so hard to get Architects to think BIM'

It was born of frustration but I'm just a stupid shopfit designer and constantly am amazed how the Architectural "Profession" struggle with BIM (of any flavour).
I actually think the real problem is the whole profession is geared up to deliver construction documents (it's how they get paid) rather than buildings. Even most who "get" BIM regard it as just a better way to create coordinated documents which in my book isn't BIM at all...

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