Revit and other tools and add-ins for data extraction from BIM to Asset Management Information System (AMIS)
These tools have helped me extract data from models for use in several AMIS programmes, Tec1 for WCC, SPM Assets & RAMM for transport.
The power of BIM is in getting accurate quantitative data. It is not good at qualitative data (eg condition of an asset) and actual visual inspection by a trained assessor is best for this. A blog on comparison of quantity data capture methods demonstrates this. Although, if the building/asset is brand new then the condition of all of its elements should be at their best.
I have been working in Revit 2015, updated tools for latest versions will be available, check on the website for your version tools.
Tools are broken down into different segments:
Database– SQL Express (free) and queries on the database. This was just a matter of learning SQL query language to extract data from the database in a suitable format for putting in an AMIS.
Restructuring tools , Excel & Knime (free) are 2 examples. These manipulate the data so that it can be configured for importing into the AMIS. Once you had exported data from Revit you could reformat it for the AMIS import process.
Revit add-ins. As this was the BIM tools used, add-ins were selected to help the process move from a mechanised set of tasks to a more automated process. Some parts of it still required user manipulation (building the models/ inputting in Asset Management Approved Data Definitions (pull down from a library table that could be updated) while others could be automated programmatically with C# or Macros.
Room Wall Net Area. The initial challenge was how to get a wall area in a room , less openings (doors/windows). These is nothing inherent in Revit to allow this to occur, so tools were developed to do this task. The tools went through several iterations and were refined or adapted as required. Kiwi Codes & Caduceus helped develop the first tool for this and later SMRT Consulting developed it further and added a whole lot of Sheet creation tools. You can contact Matt Cantwell to discuss obtaining this developed tool.
An early attempt was to use Room Finisher free app, designed to put skirting into rooms, I made the skirting full room height, and when you joined this to the room walls it adjusted to room openings (doors/windows) to give net wall area. We used this as a check for later tool. Caduceus created tool that put room name and orientation onto inner walls, so that we could identify them in schedules.
Initially Schedules were used to extract information from Revit, so having a tool that could export to Excel was handy. You set up schedule templates and exported them to excel for uploading into the AMIS. Bim One inc have an import/export Excel free add-in but a more sophisticated one is Rushforth Tools which is a real Swiss army knife but costs about $100US , but you can down-load a trial version to test it.
RTV-Reporter Pro. This was a later tool that we used for extracting data from Revit that was tailored to which AMIS it was to import into. A sophisticated tool, you could create all the special parameters that you needed setting their type (string, number, real etc) , push those into Revit into all or only specified categories (eg Rooms or Windows etc) and then have a preset list of valid parameter data definitions in a pull-down table to select from. You could then run a validation process to confirm that data was correctly inputted for type. The programme could be given to consultants to input and validate the data prior to submitting to client for uploading to AMIS. It has a database in behind it and pulls ecverything from the Revit model by its category to a specific category table. A very robust tool. Contact Simon Del Favero for pricing.
Xporter Pro. This does all your document exporting and issuing . A very good tool $49US for single license, you can down-load a trial version to test it.
Color splasher. This is a great validation tool to ensure that all items have a quantity attached to the parameter you are exporting from Revit. You set a colour to Zero, say Red, for a parameter , say area, and use it on an element , say window. When you splash the colour over the windows you can quickly see which elements have not had their area parameter updated. Once identified, you can fix this issue.
PDFs. I have been using some PDF export tools from Revit, I started with SofiStik PDF export which has a monthly ($5us) or yearly ($25US) subscription, but this did not manage the bigger models well, and moved onto SimLab PDF Exporter, a single license you can use on 2 machines, you can down-load a trial version to test it. It is $200US per license, so right on the top of my scale. I have been very happy with this tool. I use it to export data to an excel macro where I format & tabulate the data into different categories.
Whitefeet Tools for Revit. This is a great tool for Room Schedule setups , $100 per license per version, you can down-load a trial version to test it for 60 days.
There is a Rockit tool that is multi-purpose like Whitefeet & Rushforth but I haven’t had occasion to use them. Its got a trial version but a subscription of $99/year or $8.50/month. I really do not like the subscription model. I think if you are purchasing a product, you should be able to use it until you upgrade to something else. So I will resist these as much as I can.
Isolate Warnings. A free plug-in for checking the integrity of your models. A good tool to use to clean up messy stuff.
Case Free Apps. I’m not sure where these can be downloaded at the moment but the Revit Add On site mentioned them in this blog. I used them for creating 3D floating text in rooms for 3D PDF models.
Redbike AutoNumber Free. Later we started to give each window/door a unique number using From-To Rooms, so if there were multiple windows in a room they had a suffix -1, -2 ….-9 as you went clockwise around the room, starting from major entrance door to room. This added more criteria to our exports that were not hardcoded into the automatic export for RTV-Exporter-Pro and we managed this extra data extraction with a few SQL scripts. I did use the Wiip Numbering app $49US) but thought at the time it was expensive for what it did, but it got me out of trouble at the time, but the Redbike one was just what we needed.
The Revit DB link, The Export to COBie, Space Naming App (Names Spaces the same as Rooms) , Roombook Area Building Book and a couple of the other Autodesk Revit subscription Apps were used in moderation but they never quite met the needs of the AMIS we were pushing data into.
If you look at the videos in the blog you can see our earlier methodology for extracting data. We refined it to be able to do external wall areas of different finishes, roofs and individual door/Window numbers on existing buildings.
CAD/ Modelling Tools
FREE BricsCAD Shape
A new Free Concept modelling tool for Buildings is BricsCAD Shape. It is a similar tool to SketchUp but has a few features that link it directly into the CAD area. It natively saves as a DWG file with layers , so initial concept design model can be saved directly as a DWG file for documentation. It is accurate (you cab set dimensions accurately). You can download it HERE and I have an article on it HERE.
Well worth an explore for experienced Cad users and novices.
FREE DraftSight by Dassault Systems
This is a fully professional CAD package that has all the bells and whistles and is comparable to AutoDesk AutoCad LT. It has pretty much all the same functions. You can buy the pro Version for $49 US that allows you to get into its API and LISP programming functions (So pretty much near to full blown AutoCAD).
It has layers/Xrefs/Fast Keys/Blocks and Attributes. Pretty much all the toys I used in AutoCAD and it is free. Also it reads all your old Acad Files and blocks. Whats not to like?