In my previous blog, I addressed the importance of content in BIM projects. But what are the different BIM file types and formats available — and how can you make the most out of these types of BIM content?
In order to understand the types of content that are out there, let’s have a look at how the different types of content are created for our MEPcontent BIM library.
The creation process typically starts with a content request, which can be triggered in three ways:
Users, such as MEP engineers, who require certain BIM content for the apps they want to work with or software/platforms they use.
Manufacturers who want to share their content with engineers and designers all around the world to create better brand awareness and higher sales.
Even a project can be the trigger. In certain projects, for instance, it may be required to use generic content with pre-defined parameters and product characteristics.
When a content request is triggered, it will be addressed and evaluated by the MEPcontent team. The content factory will prepare a time estimation for enriching the content, adjusting the data to match the needs of engineers, localisation (every country can have its own offering), and quality control. When the time estimation is approved, the content creation process can take off.
After approval of the time estimation, the content can be created, tested, reviewed, and finally, be published. These file types will be made available on the MEPcontent platform and in some cases for MEP apps, like our Revit and AutoCAD plugins. Some content will, for instance, be made available for apps such as the SANHA Product Line Placer, the ABB Switch Range Configurator or our MEPcontent Product Line Placers that feature content from multiple manufacturers, all-in-one app. The following image illustrates the process of content creation at MEPcontent and output in the different file types:
So what is happening here? In short, content creation.
At the heart of the content creation process is the PLS, which stands for Product Line Sheet. The PLS is the cornerstone of 3D objects published on the MEPcontent platform. It’s an overview of data in Excel providing all the relevant parameters and details such as sizes, costs, article numbers, deep links and a lot more information about the content families. Next to PLS files, it is also possible to create BIM objects directly in the required file types such as DWG’s for AutoCAD, RFA’s for Revit and the platform-independent IFC.
The types of content can then be split into two categories:
This type of content is delivered by the manufacturer’s BIM manager or product manager to the MEPcontent team in all kinds of formats. This content is then analysed by a team of content experts and compared to the EMCS, the Extended MEPcontent Standard. The EMCS guarantees to both manufacturers and the users of content, such as MEP engineers, contractors, designers, and modelers, that they are working with accurate, small-sized content. These BIM objects contain accurate information which can be used for creating Bill of Material lists, prefab sets and performing calculations.
Next to manufacturer requests, the content factory also addresses requests from engineers and designers directly. How? By offering generic content. This is content without a link to a specific manufacturer, which can be used for free. This is useful when a project requires generic content (for instance due to legislation in certain countries) or when certain objects are not provided by manufacturers. Think of vessels, vaults, meters, wall-plates, and ducts.
Use MEP APPS to Get the Most Out of BIM Content
Having access to BIM content is great, but downloading families, saving them in the correct project folder and updating your model with new content; it still requires a lot of manual work. A part of this manual work can be a thing of the past. How? By using (free) apps for Revit or AutoCAD. These apps can help you to design a specific system, like a piping system, sanitary system or placing valves. The app automatically connects to the MEPcontent database and offers you the relevant content in a visually appealing way, so it’s clear what you are doing and placing without having to leave your Revit or AutoCAD project environment.
Some apps include functionalities you might actually be missing in native Revit. These functionalities can be added through the so-called productivity apps. You can, for instance, use the Export and Import Excel App to export parameters from your Revit project to Excel; very useful for sharing data with a client or colleague who might not have Revit running on their computers. You can also adjust or update the data in Excel and import it back into Revit, while using the app. This will save you time when manually filling in the blanks in Revit.
Work With the Latest Content
If you’d like to stay up-to-date with newly created content, you can sign up for our MEPcontent newsletters and follow our news on the MEPcontent website. You can also check out explainer videos that demonstrate how the content in the apps can be used. We also host BIM Insights Sessions, which are monthly webinars about the latest MEP trends, releases, and content developments. These are useful resources for learning how to make the most of your BIM content.
You probably have many other ways you would like to get more out of your BIM content. Feel free to share them with us! Please leave your comment below and let us know how you want to get the most out of BIM content or what apps or plugins you are currently using to get the job done. Good luck with your project!
About the Author
Stefan van Eerde is MEPcontent’s Senior Product Marketer for MEP Apps and MEPcontent.com. MEPcontent is part of Stabiplan B.V., a Trimble company. He leads the international App adoption efforts as well as growing the MEPcontent.com platform with more users.More Content by Stefan van Eerde