Revit is a Design-Build Tool, But What About AFTER the Building is Built?

What’s in it for the OWNER is more than you may think.

By Suzanne Painter-Supplee, LEED AP+ID&C, MHS, CFSP

Design.  Build.  Operate.  As food service facility designers, whether design only or design/build, who is actually the client, and who in the channel controls the end-user (client) relationship?

Particularly with larger facilities (over 5000 sq. ft.,) or those which are publicly funded, the guy paying the bill initially isn’t always the owner.  While many believe that the “Golden Rule” applies, as in he with the gold makes the rules, an operator without a voice in the design or build process may not be heard, and it may only come to light when he takes the keys and (tries to) operate his new commercial kitchen.

Too often, channel members can be information silos, and elements easy to add during design end up a real time-consuming pain after the fact.  Revit works because it is collaborative among trades, thus avoiding errors or catching them before ground is broken.

Foodservice dealer designers & consultants have been transitioning to Revit since 2011-2012.  But the equipment manufacturer providing content may ONLY know what the designer needs, and the eventual end user, owner, operator gets lost in the shuffle. It is more than 3D and visualization.


So what about that OWNER?  After all, it’s his/her money.  Presumably, the building model is in his hands once the building is built & turned over, but how useful, depends on how well it was built.  LEED credits can even be tracked.  Space management (flexible space for future repurposing) is a hot topic right now, maximizing $$ per square foot, as is Life Cycle Cost Assessment. (Link to NAFEM’s Tool)

LEED credits relating to water and energy can be cited here.  Green Building Properties parameters are in the Autodesk Master Parameter list. There is space for asset management information as well.
For more information,

Revit is a Database

How cool would it be to filter equipment by warranty expiry date, depreciate assets, and budget for maintenance, replace equipment older than X years old?  How about production year to get a specific manual later in life,  several staff members ago?  Manufacturers need to consider how their information is used in the field by their customers.

When a content provider (of Revit families) creates families, his primary source of information is the manufacturer’s spec sheet, and they are almost never experts on the equipment to the extent the manufacturer’s engineers are.  Forget valuable asset information for a moment.   Too often, vital information to successfully operate is missing, including:

  • Water Quality Requirements (For both hot and cold, particularly with the advent of low water usage appliances requiring filter/scale assemblies)
  • Incoming water temperature requirements
  • Warranty length
  • BTUh/heat load
  • Refrigerant Charge—sometimes not in any manual or spec sheet, appearing only on a serial number tag
  • Energy Star™ Status
Great to provide water quality information, but how about sooner than the installation manual?

LEED V4 has set water and energy standards for process equipment, which is what food equipment is known as.  (see Appendix 3.)

Can you imagine an owner or staff having to plow through drawing sets & spec sheets to extract what was not included in Revit families?

Message to Content Creators & Commercial Kitchen Designers:  Just because it doesn’t appear on a schedule doesn’t mean that the information isn’t vital to a stakeholder at some point in time.  Adding Revit parameters designed to track and maintain assets are vital to equipment longevity & proper operation.  Providing it upfront reduces data entry, and also makes warranty service easier to claim, and makes scheduling maintenance easier.  This gets it off the ground at the get-go.

The Asset Management Schedule

Imagine being able to sort equipment by what needs X months’ maintenance, or a filter, “O” ring or belt replacement?  Chart when warranties expire?  What about LEED Credit & Energy Star™ reference, even process improvement?

More consultants are writing Energy Star™ information into product requirements and cite water usage and the LEED Credit/Standard attempted, undeniably a great way to hold spec. Building products manufacturers have been doing this for years.

Jackson WWS, a major manufacturer of commercial ware washers (owned by Hoshizaki, who is one of the largest food equipment companies worldwide), has taken a leadership position for foodservice equipment by including asset management parameters in their upgraded Revit library, out soon.

Post-Installation Software/Facility Management + Revit Shared Parameters

Thankfully, software packages now available to owners and asset/facility managers make equipment tracking easier.  Some have mobile platforms and real-time information. So what if those packages could ‘talk’ to the BIM model in some form through a user-friendly pipeline?  With asset management data in-hand, an operator can manage maintenance schedules and budget for replacement. Yes, there is a “service life” parameter as well.

Note that this information was among the Revit Parameters seen above.  Imagine how much time is saved on data entry alone.

Maintenance example:  Ice maker & steamer manufacturers recommend filter changes & typically define the TYPE of filter and replacement frequency.  This is also typically done as part of cleaning and other preventative maintenance.

Some consultants specify a years’ worth of filters for products that need them, but the value goes away if those are not noted (type/make/model) and tracked.

The low-tech way – the installer or service agent dates the filter cartridge with a Sharpie™.  Asset management software keeps these records in real-time and make it available to those who need it.

What’s a Commercial Kitchen Consultant to Do?

Foodservice consultants & design/build dealers are uniquely qualified as well as influential in the information-gathering process, because they have clout with manufacturers.  Providing asset management framework during design puts valuable information with significant post-construction value to the owner.

C’mon, Manufacturers.  Quit Using up the Consultant’s Billable Time!!

Design jobs have upwards of several hundred -even thousands of products, making data entry annoyingly time-consuming.  Each family has to be opened up, parameters added one at a time, (don’t shoot the messenger, that’s what Revit makes you do) then saved into a folder you can access again as needed. Add that to the plethora of what’s MISSING or scattered among other documents, that need to be researched.  But a content creator can easily add these parameters into their templates which are repeatable.

????$$$$$ Now what??

 The Foodservice Consultant Society International (FCSI) adopted a shared parameters file to establish uniformity and quality standards for BIM content provided by manufacturers.  FCSI The Americas has done a good job promoting this and appointed a task force.

Last year, FCSI Worldwide (thank you Roberto Assi,  Unox, who shouldered this) made noise about Global Parameters, and William Taunton, at the FCSI/NAFEM Liaison Meeting in April reminded everyone that he specifies products from all over the world so the industry’s  need for Global Parameters was underscored.

Here’s the difference. EAME parameters: Warranty Duration/Start Date, Production date, Agency Approvals, Bar Code, Serial Number, etc.  More attention was paid to hot/cold water quality and incoming water temperatures.  Easier to populate an equipment database to create maintenance schedules, track warranty end dates, or when replacing equipment.

A consultant designing a school cafeteria, could decide to re-use existing equipment, and such records can be helpful, so it’s an insurance policy should spec sheets are no longer available & agency listings don’t go far back enough to extract information like water usage (NSF, ETL, UL, ARI/ARHI.)  Having this information easily at hand can also help when applying for utility rebates and you need comparative data.

YOU—Hey Operator This Is For YOU, after all, YOU are the customer!

If you have any say in how your kitchen design is produced, ask for BIM.  Make sure the content library from which your designer pulls, (Autoquotes, KCL & Specifi are three suppliers of food equipment content libraries) has a procedure for keeping it up to date.

Also be sure that the library (s) your designer uses was built using FCSI/NAFEM shared parameters, particularly important if they created content prior to the standards.  Ask for an asset management schedule and for them to build their content to include those parameters.  It can be exported into Excel.

Finally, when researching facility management software or if you already use it, check to see if it is compatible with Revit, and that kitchen equipment can be added to it.  While Autodesk has its own software for this as described but there are third party solutions that work with BIM models and/or BIM data can be exported into database files like Access & Excel.

For more information,  look for this white paper.