Revit RANTS… Top Issues with Food Equipment Manufacturer Content & What it takes to Fix them Yourself (If you have to)

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

Your latest kitchen design is humming along nicely.  Then, BAM.  You hit a wall and it all comes to a screeching halt.  Why?  Because the manufacturers’ Revit family libraries you are pulling from are not to NAFEM/FCSI standards.   Or maybe, not to your firm’s standards either.  What do you do?  Do you call the offending ‘perp’ manufacturer or rep, send a ‘nasty-gram’ or will that take too long? The options:  explain the issue to a non-Revit using manufacturer or rep which most often draws blank faces & watering eyes, starts an endless waiting game of ‘telephone’, runarounds to find the ‘right person’ or ‘the person who does that.’  Then, they may have to issue a PO to a content creator!  And you needed it ‘yesterday.’ Translation? MORE wasted time.  More time than what it would have taken you to fix it yourself and save it in your firm’s library.  As the old saying goes, “If you want something done right, do it yourself. “

Manufacturers want their products specified, but if it costs you time, it’s moneyYour $$$.  Could be simple but irritating things like not being able to number the product in your equipment schedule, or making a material adjustment.  While those corrections are easy and quick and you won’t need to call anyone, they STAY wrong in the third party library or manufacturer’s content site.  So what about other people in your firm also accessing those libraries?

If the family is face-based it not only ticks you off, it means a complete do-over of that family to fix.  But the worst sins of all, it is incorrect utilities, insufficient /incomplete utilities, clearances, as well as inconsistent subcategories & views.  Those missing elements could affect how your project is communicated to other stakeholders,  your like mechanical engineers, even owners, who are relying on that built-in data to service the equipment, to heat/chill/treat water, spot electrical panels, run hot or cold waterlines and spot drains.   Common offenders-dishwasher booster heaters, number of connections, water temperature and quality required-very necessary for dishwasher heat recovery; cold food drop-in wells (air circulation) even chilled water dispensers that also require air circulation or risk component failure not covered under warranty.

The best manufacturer content helps avoid mistakes while respecting your billable time.  It should be EASY to find content enriched with all the data you need to get your kitchen built with correct utilities that will actually connect, water heaters sized correctly, treated water where necessary, water temperatures inbound, even drain water temperatures, which due to changing codes are more important than ever.  Clearances should not only be properly identified, they should be named PROPERLY and set up in specific views so the designer can turn on/off the subcategory or change the view in the project to impact all elements regardless of origin.

A built-in booster heater with its own connection needs to schedule.  Too often, only the machine schedules, so it doesn’t matter what the written spec says if the engineers don’t see it. Many designers pick this up and handle it manually by splitting a schedule line, but why should they have to? What if someone else in the firm is handling Revit and doesn’t catch this?  Expensive mistake to pay for a utility run not planned for.

Today’s low water use dishwashers have smaller final rinse nozzles, making treated water more important than ever.  But only ONE manufacturer makes that known on their spec sheet.  Now that heat recovery has legs, you are now treating COLD as well as hot water. You need both because hot is the initial fill, but the machine’s continuous water usage is actually cold water, that comes in within a specific temperature range. Many engineers aren’t used to treating cold water that isn’t consumed.   It is too late for this information if it is only in the manual.  It needs to be available at the time of design.

Not one ice machine manufacturer puts water requirements in their Revit families, even though they sell filter systems.  Yet most all of them can recall eating warranty calls when all the machine needed was to be de-scaled, but the customer is screaming.

What about COFFEE?  Remarkably, no beverage families convey water quality requirements or recommended incoming temperatures.

Nice to have?  Energy Star status, LEED Credit application, plus asset management parameters for the end user facility manager wanting to use software but dreads the massive order entry required. (BIM/Revit is a DATABASE so it can be imported directly, potentially saving weeks of tedium.)  The graphics that follow highlight some common irritations.

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Food Service Industry Has Standards. So do design firms!

Some mechanical engineers have confided that they “never” use manufacturer content because they don’t trust it, or because some use brand-specific subcategories that don’t play nicely with others, and the drawing looks like crap.

But in commercial kitchen design, FCSI & NAFEM have STANDARDS for Revit content designed to nip these issues in the bud, and proactively prevent costly errors.  So why aren’t they being used by EVERYONE?

Back in 2011, there wasn’t an approved material library, or clearance material, for instance.  Plus newer features in Revit are foodservice-friendly.  Couple that with Revit 2018 having just launched.  Those 2011-constructed families will at minimum, take forever to load because they are updating, or at worst, ‘break,’ making them unusable.

Where did the $$ go?

If your studio employs Revit operators, and you notice a bottleneck in production, it is highly likely that your firm’s billable time is being spent fixing content that was supposed to be “free” and to work.

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Subcategories include clearances for doors/drawers, per code (mandatory), surface details, etc.  Materials, including stainless steel also have standards.  Only items 3, 6 & 7 adhere to these standards as of 4/20/17.

So in no particular order, here’s the list, along with the average time it takes to fix each.  Send links to this blog to the offending manufacturers.  Ask why they shouldn’t be charged back for your time.  Since foodservice consultants have been actively using Revit for more than 5 years, would it not make sense for each manufacturer to have a staff member who knows how to at minimum fix their content, including minor updates, upgrades and other changes? Granted, they aren’t architects, but it is good customer service after all and would allow corrections to be made quickly. Videos of these fixes are available upon request.

      1. Cannot input an item number. (Under a minute. Change ‘item number’ to ‘instance, make sure it is in Specialty Equipment category.)
      2. File size too large. RFA’s should be no more than 1 mb for anything complex, best practice, under 700k. Depending on complexity, trial/error, it could take up to an hour to fix or may need to be done over.  Hint: try to get rid of voids and use model lines where possible.
      3. Items that should “cut” because they are dropped in, such as a soup, hot or cold well, even sinks, should actually cut the family it goes in.   (Under 2 minutes-using my time and money-saving technique shown here.)  Otherwise, each affected family would have to be opened and cut individually, tracing the equipment, then removing the equipment, load in project, add equipment in the opening.  Putting it into the counter family, it won’t schedule.
      4. Wrong category or template used, including face-based. (Scream-inducing).  Should be using “Specialty Equipment” with a family-naming convention of QF_MFR_Model. Changing from ‘generic’ to Specialty Equipment is simple, but face-based has to be re-done.
      5. Naming conventions-period—subcategories & shared parameters. (Under a minute per subcategory, a bit more for shared parameter. But there are third party tools available to rename parameters in bulk.)
      6. Proper utilities are “in” the family, but they won’t schedule in your project.  (About a minute per parameter, but those changes are made in each individual family. There are some third party software add in’s that can speed up the process.)
      7. Missing Information. Water quality, supply temperature, missing clearances, often for products that require air circulation or transfer heat, CFM, refrigerant charge, some of which are not on spec sheets and would require a phone call.

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In this schedule, ONLY items 3, 6 & 7 contain ALL of the relevant information a designer needs, including all utilities, connections, water temps and quality, Energy Star & LEED Credit information.  Asset management schedule also includes warranty.  Notable missing data from the other products:  water quality, cold water for heat recovery, required water temperatures, proper labeling with utilities for tank wattage. Item 1 is a single point connection. While it is not spelled out, utilities reflect it.
Item 3 identifies in two areas that a booster is by others, in notes and in incoming water temp. Item 6 shows and schedules two connections; Item 7 is a single point connection and is clear by wattage and amperage.  LEED Credits and Energy Star status are bonuses.

How to Fix

A manufacturer can learn what he/she needs to know to fix families in-house, or  hire a third party content evaluator/fixer/provider to do it for them.  In most cases, geometry is salvageable, so lower cost than round 1. Where it becomes a problem is if data is also missing from spec sheets, so if you get an evaluator/fixer/provider who also KNOWS the equipment, they will know to ask for information not shown or proactively check manuals. So having an engineering contact for the content creator is essential.

And YOU, manufacturers-don’t rule out learning Revit yourself, at least enough to be dangerous.  Or arrange for a savvy staff member to learn it. The price for a Revit subscription has gone down considerably and can even be purchased on a monthly basis.  Each issue listed above can be fixed using Revit LT, which is less money than the full version of Revit or a suite.

Bottom line: commercial kitchen designers specifying your products deserve better.  Why not help them out and at the same time, make your library the best and most user-friendly in the business?

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.


Building Your Revit Family Library: What to look for in a Content Creator

  • What to Ask
  • What to Demand
  • Delighting in the Results!

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

After all of the kicking and screaming to get your product’s Revit library budgeted for, you won.  Whether you are building the library from scratch or upgrading, everyone wins because your products will be easier to specify, and there’s sales/marketing benefit beyond consultants and design dealers using it. You may find that you’ll recoup the cost in unneeded photography and other sales literature, particularly if materials are properly created, and reduce installation errors resulting from bad or incomplete information.

Some manufacturers believe that only THEY can produce a worthy Revit library, AND that Revit families contain ‘proprietary’ information-that reverse engineering is possible.  That is not the case. Here’s why:

  • Engineers are not architects-there’s a difference between designing/building a product and designing a product INTO A SYSTEM known as a kitchen, with multiple brands, utilities, ‘rules’ and functions.
  • Steep learning curve to learn Revit, and very likely they don’t own the program.
  • INFORMATION is built into Revit families, not every PART is in the model, which is the case with engineering software like Solidworks, Inventor, ProE.
  • Engineers are less likely to fully comprehend NAFEM/FCSI Revit family standards
  • Tendency to have too much detail leading to inflated file sizes and unnecessary girth
  • AND, most often seen, your families may not schedule properly in a consultant/design-dealer’s schedule

So where do you start? Gathering the Information

Are your spec sheets up to date, including adding more information as recommended in the recently updated NAFEM/FCSI Spec Sheet Standards.

For each of the bullets below, there is a shared parameter available.  Frequently missing:

  • CFM/Exhaust Volume
  • Refrigerant VOLUME/CHARGE (extremely important for LEED, everything more than ½# counts. Many refrigeration companies only put this in their service manuals and on equipment tags, but that does not help the specifier.
  • Refrigerant TYPE  (Missing from the drawing below)




The refrigerated drop in’s are missing their refrigerant type and charge.  In the lower pic, hot well, no PSI is listed and discharge temperature is inaccurate.  This would imply that the wells would be filled with water manually, and no water line run for them. Because the parameters are there, they can be changed, as long as they ARE!

  • Water QUALITY requirements. If soft water is recommended, make sure you say so. Filtered water is a shared parameter, and it is often overlooked.
  • Water DISCHARGE temperature. Drain water tempering is becoming more common.
  • Incoming hot water or chilled water requirements, both temperature and gpm
  • Water CONSUMPTION in gallons as well as water FLOW to the equipment
  • Clearances (typically designated for view as a subcategory)
  • Materials-utilize the FCSI library file.
  • Do you have at least current 2D AutoCAD symbols, .dwg’s? This will save time and money.  Even more if what you have has utilities attached that schedule.  Those 2D’s from your library as they appear on KCL often do.  Do you also have symbols for any visible accessories that would be included as options?  Options that are visible are important, but those that are not but typically forgotten should be included.
  • Do you have an engineering contact available to answer questions? Keep in mind that content creators are not experts in your product, not all spec sheets scale properly, and verbiage can be confusing, not to mention utility requirements.


Choosing a Content Creator

When Revit usage became popular in the consultant community, a new field emerged—food equipment-specific content creators.  While there are many content creators who freelance or are in of themselves large firms, it is important that your creator have knowledge of food service equipment, layout/design, and understand typical clearances that exist.  They will also have knowledge of the FCSI Shared parameters to be included.

The funny thing about getting bids/quotations from content creators is that they often have to actually build a family to determine how long it will take then price accordingly.  Some equipment is more complicated than others, and if it is from the same manufacturer, tiers for difficulty should be calculated.  Also, some geography will work for multiple products, where the differentiation may only be the data, or at most a shelving type, door/drawer option but everything else is the same.  This will involve creating a “type catalog.”  That’s a good thing because it is significantly easier for a designer to get the right piece when a type catalog exists.  It also becomes equally easy to switch if the voltage changes because it is only a matter of re-loading.

Evaluating Content Creators

It pays to at least select two contenders.  If you have a particularly large library it may be necessary to split the business, making some of the steps below absolutely mandatory.  Here goes:

  1. Ask your consultant/design dealers whose content is particularly easy to work with and find out who did it.
  2. Most creators will post their customers so find a manufacturer in the same product category and review their work. You can see thumbnails in KCL’s mobile app, which is free to download in the APP Store or Google Play.
  3. Be sure that the creator gets ALL of the relevant information that you’ve pulled together because it will impact pricing if they have to ‘dig’ or draw from scratch.
  4. Get a sample family of a piece of your equipment. Do not accept anything but a new family, in your equipment, with features, accessories and fully scheduled.  Note what VERSION it is created in. Creators should be using Revit versions no earlier than 2014-2015.
  5. If you have a desktop or laptop computer with a decent processor, download a trial version of Revit or Revit LT. Typically if you don’t buy the software, it becomes a viewer and there is a separate shortcut for the actual viewer.   If the family was made in an earlier version than what you download to try, DO NOT SAVE IT. Revit is not backwards-compatible. See the screenshots below regarding what to look for.
  6. If your families will be made in the current version of Revit, you can upload them here: Your creator will need to send you the sample in PROJECT form, (.rvt rather than .rfa) which will allow you to see it schedule if you use this online viewer.
  7. If impractical to view the family in Revit, ask your creator for a PDF with a schedule in project mode. That is the preferred method for a manufacturer to check families before they are posted in online third party libraries or will be available on your website. Many creators also have software to create a 3D PDF.    It is a very cool way to review products in Revit because the utilities are reflected, you can look at them as solid, wireframe/transparent as well as shaded illustration.
  8. Make sure that the data associated with the family is actually “in” the family and not supplied by an external database. While an external database is by far the easiest way to get your Revit families updated quickly, you want the family to be usable in any third party program as well as standalone on your website.
  9. If your equipment has an Energy Star category, consider adding “Green Building Properties” to the parameters. This will be helpful in LEED projects.


FCSI/NAFEM has not yet added Green Building Properties to the Shared Parameter list but it is available via the Autodesk standards.  It is recommended at minimum for LEED projects in Retail, Hospitality, Schools, Healthcare & Commercial Interiors. Just because a parameter is in a family doesn’t require the user to use it, but it sure saves a step looking for it on an Energy Star listing.

  1. Ask the creator to also render the family.  This will have to be done in “project” mode, and it saves as an image file.
  2. Naming conventions.   Foodservice equipment is part of “Specialty Equipment.” QF specifically identifies it as foodservice equipment. Be sure the creator is using the Specialty Equipment template, names families properly (so they will schedule), and that no new families are “hosted.”


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FCSI/NAFEM has not yet added Green Building Properties to the Shared Parameter list but it is available via the Autodesk standards.  It is recommended at minimum for LEED projects in Retail, Hospitality, Schools, Healthcare & Commercial Interiors. Just because a parameter is in a family doesn’t require the user to use it, but it sure saves a step looking for it on an Energy Star listing.


  1. Ask the creator to also render the family.  This will have to be done in “project” mode, and it saves as an image file.
  2. Naming conventions.   Foodservice equipment is part of “Specialty Equipment.” QF specifically identifies it as foodservice equipment. Be sure the creator is using the Specialty Equipment template, names families properly (so they will schedule), and that no new families are “hosted.”


Using Your Revit Families+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

If you distribute your families through a third party library, most content creators will offer to work directly with them by sending your approved families.  Those libraries will typically add links to spec sheets on THEIR sites.  So if you also want to have a link to it on your site, ask for that and supply your content creator with the URL’s.

If you wish to distribute your library on your website, here’s some tips:

  • Separate them into FOLDERS with descriptive names to make what the designer wants easier to find. Consider sub-folders, example, Door-Type Dishwashers, with subfolders for high temp, low temp, fill and dump.  If your product is hot food wells, for instance, “Hot Food Wells” with subcategories for the number of wells, and perhaps a further subcategory if there are wattage choices.
  • Create a .zip file for easy download. If you have a varied product line, consider separate .zip files by category.  Example:  some designers may use only your combi ovens and that’s what they need immediately, so save them time by allowing them to select those without taking the whole library.


Navigating your Revit library

You want the user to be able to quickly identify the product they need.  Consider links from your online brochures, or an online catalog.  You may also wish to add an interactive menu to automatically get you to the folder you want. The menu will often have thumbnails making it super-easy.   (Shameless plug)

Finally, be aware that long term, you will need a way to update your library to a later version.  Ask your creator about costs for that.  Many (including me) have a bulk upgrader tool.   Here’s what’s involved in upgrading by version, and what happens when you do.

If you decide to invest in a Revit subscription, which is the only way you can buy it, and monthly plans are available, Revit will automatically upgrade the file version to the current version and you can do it yourself.  Be advised that it would mean opening each family and saving it, which can be cumbersome.  If you go that way, be aware that if Autodesk added features in that later version that are pertinent to your products, such as the recently added “cut with void,” you won’t automatically get that and the family will need to be remade.

Cool uses for Your Revit Library

  • Competitive comparisons among your models or competitive brands
  • Custom “spec sheets.” Example, a flight type dishwasher is a custom piece and a picture of what the customer will actually get could be a plus in a proposal. Same with serving counters.
  • Investigate how well your families will render. Your content creator can do that for you, or if you purchase Revit, there is a means for that as well.
  • Create a virtual showroom and put it on your website. This would be made in Revit and would be a walk-through.  An example might be your trade show booth.
  • Presentations/explanations-you can show your products in context with other products the customer is using, so they can visualize it in the room. This is particularly useful if your sales team is selling replacement equipment.  It is also great for budget purposes because the finance or purchasing teams may not understand the product like your end user customer will.
  • Fabrication budgeting. What better way to calculate ductwork extensions, tabling, counters, etc.?

Feel free to contact me for more ideas using Revit for Sales and Marketing via the contact form on this site, or








LEED Version 4 Invites Food Service to the Party-Don’t Ignore the Invitation

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

While LEED V4 kicked off more than two years ago, October 31, 2016 is the LAST DAY a project can be registered under V3.  Although there are several hundred projects registered under V4, project managers have been slower to embrace it.  –Highlighted tracks include Foodservice!


In earlier versions of LEED, Division 11 where food equipment resides, materials used in foodservice operations were specifically excluded in New Construction (BD&C), and “Optional” in Commercial Interiors (ID&C.)  Process water and energy weren’t included unless the Exceptional Calculation Method was used, meaning energy/water needed to be modeled.

But it made sense when commercial kitchen equipment will use more than 25% of water & energy to be used in the project. (Default for process is 25%, so other calculations are based on the remaining 75 %.)

Although commercial kitchens use more energy per square foot than any other, it was largely ignored in these categories, with the exception of healthcare, schools & retail.  Interiors has had an Energy Star™ credit, EAc1.4, since V2, but it isn’t foodservice-specific.  It is also worth fewer credits than in V2009.  Keep in mind that Energy Star™ standards for water-using appliances also have a water baseline standard.

LEED for Schools, in the Building Design & Construction category (BD&C) always included process water specific food equipment in credit WEc4 in both versions 2 & 3.  The project had to have four different appliance types at or below baseline to get the credit.  Disposers were prohibited, but NOT Under V4.  Disposers, just like the rest of the appliances, have a baseline standard:  gallons per minute and automatic shut off.  So thanks, Healthcare, because schools married to their disposers don’t have to give them up to earn a credit.


In this view, ice maker-dispensers, hand sinks and coffee brewer count, and a case can possibly be made for materials if the counters use sustainable materials and are handled correctly when submitted.

LEED for Healthcare, the most progressive towards foodservice of them all, which began with Version 3, included several process water credits specific to dietary, and here is where disposers were allowed, and other waste equipment recognized with baselines.  It was also where Integrative Process entered V3 as a prerequisite and credit in V3, being the only track that did. (More about both later.)

Foodservice now plays an important role in LEED Projects-Ignore no More.  And, it’s not just Energy Star™.

Going forward, what’s a foodservice consultant, design dealer or manufacturer’s role, and how can we make a difference?  Do we finally get a seat at the charrette table?  What if you have a slew of unfinished V3/2009 projects?   Are they eligible to pursue any of the new foodservice-friendly credits?  YES & No.

Some project managers have adjusted project boundaries to exclude foodservice -some really blatantly, such as excluding the floor it was on in ID&C projects & skirting the cafeteria building in BD&C!  LEED specifically calls out ‘reasonable boundaries’ and in conversation with LEED project reviewers, it’s believed to be stretching the rules, but hard to catch. But as of LEED V4, no more ignoring or hiding from foodservice’s important & growing role that now actually COUNTS both ways.

IMPORTANT-sometimes projects reuse (existing/relocate) commercial kitchen equipment, such as when a school or hospital is remodeled or replaced and working appliances can be reused.  What you reuse does NOT count against the project if there are Energy Star™ standards for that product because it ONLY matters what you BUY.  NOT what you USE.

With the advent of V4, which already has certified projects and others in progress, it is a level playing field among LEED consultants more familiar with earlier versions in their practices.  Yet they are being hired today.  Some are still unaware that “process” water and energy counts to varying degrees in prerequisites in all LEED tracks, and credits (more appliance types recognized) in most.  So why not bring your foodservice consultant to the party EARLY enough to make a difference and take advantage of these opportunities, or at the very least, for those foodservice consultants less experienced with LEED, to get the team’s input with equipment choices which accomplish what the owner needs while not costing a credit.  For Energy Star™ information, go HERE.

While not shown here, coffee brewers have a standard in late development, and fryers will have a new version.

Ice Makers Recognized in Same Category (Regulated) as Pre-Rinse Sprays, Hand Sinks, and all Tracks

Notable as well, while pre-rinse sprays and kitchen faucets (hand sinks, NOT fill faucets) were always counted as regulated, ice machines have made it over to the prerequisite side in all LEED tracks.  Because ice makers are used elsewhere in buildings and not always for foodservice, such as breakrooms, hotel room/floor ice makers, hospital floors, athletic departments, etc., it makes sense because they are on all the time.

Flow control on fill faucets only serve to slow down the fill and don’t save water and were always SPECIFICALLY excluded.  Timed flow hand sinks (sensor turns on and shuts off based on a timer) are now prohibited because they don’t save water.

Hospitals look to Dietary as a major Water-Saving Opportunity

water-efficiency-logoLEED for Healthcare raised awareness in both water-usage and waste-water usage categories.  Baselines for all types of commercial dishwashers as well as waste equipment (pulpers, disposers, collectors) were set.  Sub-metering water for dietary and awarding a credit for it was brilliant because hospitals look to dietary as a major opportunity to save water, since health and safety prevent other measures usable in most other building types. While not specifically addressed until EBO&M, food waste remains a top waste stream in volume in healthcare, second only to medical waste, and even then, not always.

Enter LEED for Retail & Hospitality Tracks

Effective Version 3 (2009) in both ID&C and BD&C, LEED for Retail & Hospitality also included food service equipment standards, and it was from here that LEED V4 was able to expand.  More appliance standards were listed, existing ones tightened, more awareness raised how much it can count, including its effect on regulated loads.


Energy Star™ compliance isn’t all of it as only 9 categories are covered there.  (Coffee Equipment is new.) Many products where there isn’t an Energy Star™ standard still have baseline & prescriptive standards for LEED.   The Foodservice Technology Center (FSTC) in San Ramon, California, Richard Young in particular, played a huge role in developing LEED for Retail, and educated the USGBC and others about food equipment’s role.  That information is consolidated in Appendix 3. Fisher Nickel is HERE:


While V4 has more consistent categories, credits are NAMED, not numbered, and requirements can vary slightly among tracks but the intent is crystal clear. But equipment standards are the same for all tracks, whereas in previous versions, Schools, Interiors & Healthcare each had different standards.   Here’s where you can get baseline information for commercial kitchen appliances:—commercial-interiors/v4\

While Energy Star is called out in LEED credits, appliances without Energy Star standards can still have baselines.  If it is on this list, it counts.

For More about Water Efficiency:


For More about Energy Efficiency:


What is Integrative Process?


Integrative process was introduced in LEED for Healthcare, 2009 and is a prerequisite and a credit.  It remains so today, for Healthcare, both prerequisite and credit, and is now a credit in all other tracks of LEED V4. The foodservice consultant is a named player.

The intent of Integrative Process is to get all team members charged with specifying major systems together as early as possible in the project.

Details regarding Integrative Process is are shown HERE.

Next Steps

To learn more about LEED V4 and Foodservice Impact review these resources:

Finally, Credit Interpretation Rulings, or CIR’s.   you’d be amazed at how many foodservice-specific interpretations are listed.  In fact, Harvard University’s LEED CI project, Dunster-Mather, used a CIR in 2006 to get credit for a pulper on their project, long before pulpers had a LEED standard.

So become a foodservice-friendly LEED-er. You’ll be glad you invested the time.

What Makes Good Revit Content…And Who is Judging?

By Suzanne Painter-Supplee, LEED AP+ID&C, MHS, CFSP
A Revit library is a considerable investment in time and money for a manufacturer of commercial kitchen equipment. Hardly a one-time deal, upkeep is ongoing as new products are added, discontinued, exported to other countries, Revit version and/or FCSI standards change. More than 3D modeling, problematic content irritates the user or worse, uncorrected errors can find their way to installations where costs could be incurred to field-fix. Until content is correct, errors can multiply across numerous projects and geographies and the manufacturer has fewer options for alternative use of the library.

Sneeze Guards on the Floor?  Sideways airpot? Red Box Clearances?
I’ve seen sneeze guards on the floor, improper placement, countertop equipment embedded in counters, drop-in wells in counters so you can’t see the well, cooking equipment placed too close to other pieces, dishwashers so close to the wall that service would have to be done by the Thin Man, or if placed in another direction, scrap screens would be harder to remove. A real barrel of laughs, countertop equipment that lands on top of a sneeze guard because it was created as face-based. They often land on the floor. While some content libraries allow the consultant to name the insertion height, most do not.

Placement issues are minor because they are easy to catch in other views, IF the designer looks at all views, so fixable in the project rather than having to fix each family. Content is upgraded to the current version as the consultant uses it, but it will load more slowly stalling the drawing, or ‘break’ in such a way it cannot be used at all.
It’s what you DON’T see in the content that should have you worried. Worse, you must have Revit to see or fix the issues, and most manufacturers don’t because they aren’t architects.

So, MANUFACTURERS,  why are you just finding this out NOW? Why didn’t anyone using your Revit library say anything? Because the user either misses the problem, particularly if new to foodservice, OR, more likely, they don’t have time to wait for YOU to fix it, or for that matter, just get back to them, and when you do,  you don’t understand the issue anyway. Would you even know HOW to fix it or even direct someone to do so? Do you have to issue a PO? What perils small and large await if you don’t make corrections?
Testing Your Revit Library
While content creators test the work, and present PDF’s for engineering review, they are not experts in YOUR product. Nor are the Revit operators working for consultants. Consider how user-friendly your library is and what you can do to make your products easier to specify.

In a recent review of multiple brands, other than most not updated since Revit 2012, here are the most frequent catches:(
• Missing utility information when the product requires a utility (gas, water, drain, boosters, voltages, amps)
• Missing data specific to dishwashers, incoming water temperature requirement (important for building hot water heater sizing and distance)
• Missing door swings, or drawer clearance
• Wrong ‘material’ used for clearances. One major manufacturer’s clearance for a countertop item actually cut a hole in my counter!
• Face-based families (a royal pain to work with)
• Too much detail that increases file size over 1mb
• Improper naming conventions. Approved: QF_Brand_Model. QF identifies the equipment as Foodservice-Specific in the broad Autodesk category of “Specialty Equipment”. Some have mistakenly used ‘generic’ equipment and found those products wouldn’t schedule.
• Inability to schedule an item number (wrong parameter used)
• Inability to ‘tag’ because the family template used was wrong
• Cold water incoming temperature & water quality requirements, exhaust clearances for ‘breathing’ (ice makers)
• Not using FCSI/NAFEM approved material library & in some cases naming materials using brand
• Not assigning materials at all (ok if not named)
• Sub-categories improperly named resulting in multiples showing up in the project
• Descriptions-all over the place & inconsistent with other manufacturers
• Drop-in equipment that does not ‘cut’ its host. (was not available for Specialty Equipment until Revit 2014)
• Incomplete or unclear use or lack of use altogether of type catalogs. (Item 1 had a very descriptive type catalog so finding my model & knowing it was correct was very easy.)


In the sample below, I sought an electric 44” conveyor dishwasher, 208/3 with a built-in 70 degree rise booster. Easy, right? I used the same library to retrieve all but one of the dishwashers and lo and behold, the booster utilities were missing from five of them. So who pays for the utility run to support 25-30KW? Someone not familiar with food equipment might not have the knowledge of what is typical. What about the connections? Is the booster on its own?

If the designer has to pull a cut sheet for every single piece of equipment that goes into his drawing, it takes time away from his project. Worse, changing manufacturer-supplied families could result in errors that the consultant now owns. You may think this is extreme, but I’ve witnessed it and a manufacturer could be charged back for such errors.
Worse but not uncommon, rather than ‘hide’ clearances and other annotations, in use, the Revit operator deletes them purely for aesthetics.

Despite specifically searching for models with built-in boosters, selections were correct based on spec sheet information. As per foodservice equipment Revit standards, machine guts like internal boosters aren’t shown, although the connections for them should be and they aren’t. Not all show clearances: height, distance from wall, etc.

In the generated schedule, based on data in the families, no model or brand had all elements correct or depicted, and only items 1 & 7 account for the booster, a 15-30 watt mistake, and have the correct incoming water temperature. Only items 2, 7 & 8 have a parameter assigned for GPM, critical for dishwashers, nor are any of these referenced in “comments.” I’ve seen projects with two booster heaters as a result. Consultant specifying a unit with a built-in booster, its utilities not scheduled, so a booster gets added!

Don’t try to read the detailed schedule, just look for the yellow indicating missing, but necessary information. If I was using this for a competitive comparison, this would be a lot of work to fix, IF I decided to fix it. Or I could just make the manufacturer look BAD. Regardless, it reflects a manufacturer’s product: if you miss the small stuff, what about the big stuff?

Blue arrows indicate where clearances were shown in families. Only two showed door clearances (ceiling height, door swing if doors are hinged.) Three show NO clearances!

Billable Time Spent Correcting Manufacturer Content
Designers finding deficiencies, can usually make the corrections themselves, but it involves leaving the project, pulling a spec sheet, and opening up each model family. TIME! BUT, when information is missing from the spec sheet, a consultant nor content creator won’t, nor be expected to catch it.
Deficiencies including inconsistent naming of subcategories, requires checking every family to find the ‘perps’ and eliminating the subcategory. Why is this important? If you want to hide clearances for the purpose of a render or realistic view presentation piece, just like they do to hide walls and ceilings should be able to with one click, not several. Multiple names clutter the project too, vexing some designers. Deference to layering as is done in AutoCAD is up for debate.
If a manufacturer expects to repurpose content in sales drawings and competitive comparisons, the data needs to be there. Often considered “just 3D, higher LOD (Level of Detail), the geometry could all be boxes as long as the data is there because “You” will tell that box what it is.


What’s the Next Move?

Perhaps the worst thing that could happen is that you’ve made significant changes in a model (manufacturer), enough to affect a schedule or dimensions. The consultant specifies that the “newest model be the one supplied.”  Who  PAYS?

How can we all do better? If you are a manufacturer, follow this advice:
• Learn Revit or appoint someone in your organization to learn it at the very least to police your content, possibly update content, make sales drawings, make minor corrections. Some instructors offer foodservice-specific or Customized- To- Your -Product or Category training. (Shameless plug!)
• Hire a third-party Revit reporter (Shameless plug!) to run version reports, object styles, materials, file sizes (under 1 mb.) and test in several types of projects & Revit versions, with assorted scheduling fields, using FCSI Shared parameters. Review the report with others in your company. For the FIRST FIVE manufacturers who contact me regarding this matter, I will review five of their models free, but it might not be happy talk you get back.
• Ask your Revit reporter to pull similar products from competitors to see side by side. To test stainless, do a drawing with products & brands likely to be in a lineup with your products, i.e. dishwashers & dish TABLES.
• Upgrade/Update your content, first to Revit 2014 or 2015, then to correct and enhance it. The best content is easy to identify quickly the right model for the job, in categories that are recognized, not proprietary to YOU. In most cases, geometry is reusable as long as the correct template was initially used.
• Keep it up to date per FCSI/NAFEM Revit standard to be no more than 2 versions behind Autodesk’s current version. Only in rare instances would a complete do-over be necessary.
If you are a consultant, architect, contractor or dealer-designer:
• Share with reps whose content works best for them and why. Is it easier to use, correctly formatted and named per standards, with clearances, door swings, cut outs and other details affecting installation included.
• If there is a problem with a library in general or families, TELL the manufacturer, even if you fix it to use in your project, or their library won’t get better.
• If you can, demonstrate content problems for your factory representatives. Let them see what kind of time you spend to specify their products using their library. Empathy Sells!

Avoid Design & Install Disasters By Starting with Revit

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

Field fix.  Change Order.  Two phrases you don’t want to hear on YOUR projects. Fortunately, they are entirely preventable because a side benefit to Revit is the ability to ‘clash-detect’ and avoid these issues, not to mention the visual impact of 3D and accurate utility scheduling.

In 2011 when I was getting Revit content creation budgeted, as far as management was concerned, I was speaking a foreign language.  But finding additional value for Revit content to a manufacturer was worth investing my time.  A well-thought out Revit library could prevent errors, and make our products easier and safer to specify, even get us specified in the first place.  Correctly.

Recently, I was asked by a combi-oven manufacturer if he could use Revit to see if his rack would fit into someone else’s blast chiller.  Easier than shipping the carts to the customer and taking them back, right?

Whether it is for size, function, energy usage, codes & compliance, manufacturers often write the check$ to field-fix what i$ entirely preventable.  For the kitchen designer, Revit also offers a way to look before leaping—even create  ‘what if’/if you don’t scenarios.

Off the Board & Onto the Screen

When consultants came off the board to design in AutoCAD, they cried for content and for manufacturers to provide it.  Often heard, “If I want to specify your product, I should not have to pay for your symbols or have to spend MY time to `make them myself.”  The 2D  symbols were comparatively ‘dumb’ as opposed to the information-rich 3D Revit families of today.  Consider: 3D is the part we see, but the data is where errors and omissions lie in wait.  Worse, spec sheets are often cluttered with microscopic text, have every possible variation,  accessories, options, and all utility types.  A consultant sees hundreds of them on every project so it makes sense to help them extract information efficiently.  Every time their eyes leave the screen to search is dollars wasted.


A consultant through intelligent content in his design tells mechanical engineers to soften water, heat water, filter water, chill water, likely spots for panels, establishing flow rate requirements, sizing hot water heaters, air conditioning and heating loads for the entire facility. Setting products up to succeed by ensuring they are adequately supplied by the facility equals a working design.  Clash tests in Revit can point out errors such as pipes going through ducts, even when ceiling heights need to be re-evaluated.

Often Missing, Need for LEED, Need to Succeed

It isn’t a given that all of the data needed for design is on spec sheets or other literature.  Example, refrigerant volume.    A LEED project, for instance, counts every piece of refrigeration using more than 8 oz. of charge.  That’s like almost everything larger than your old dormitory beer refrigerator.  It’s that cold well, salad bar, ice maker, etc.  It’s not enough that it is on the serial number tag because a designer won’t see it.  Content creators are not manufacturers, and cannot be expected to know your products like you do, (consider it a bonus if whom you hire does) but it isn’t on their watch to ask for extra information.   Heat gain, CFM, water quality requirements, drain water discharge temperatures, maximum line runs, clearances in all directions, including service access—if they aren’t on your spec sheets, they won’t make it into Revit content and that’s a problem that you own if your product fails in the field.

Clearances: Performance, “What if’s, Service, Reach & Common Sense

Not just the obvious, like how close to a wall your dishwasher can get or the swing in a refrigerator door, clearances exist for space, safety, service, sanitation, operations, or practical application.   Clearances below a tray slide can keep you from adding a door to the counter, that won’t open when the slide is folded down.  Service clearances, so you can access condenser coils for cleaning & locate an access door,  pull scrap screens out of dishwasher, designate a heat barrier, even where to leave room to install a water filter assembly.

Even seemingly simple products like ice makers aren’t exempt.  While some of the most troublesome post-installation nightmares you can have with ice makers are directly attributable to water, forgetting that ice makers “breathe” can mean melted candy bars in the vending or lower machine capacities due to excess heat buildup if ventilation isn’t considered.   This is an example of entirely preventable mishaps that could have been caught in Revit, with the proper information in the Revit families.




Finally, what about that seemingly simple salad bar?  The manufacturer of the refrigerated drop-in’s may not be supplying counters, and may have no idea what a fabricator might do to ‘save space’ sacrificing ventilation needs for the condenser.  Think about how hot a kitchen can get, then go stand next to some of the appliances that generate it.  Now think about what data might have been supplied that could have prevented improper equipment placement.  Initially, I used Revit for showing customers you can’t put 10 lbs. of stuff in a 5 lb. bag, or for dish room and serving line layouts—even before and afters.




So there it is:  the ‘eureka’ moment.  What can you build into your Revit content to proactively prevent mistakes and better, how can you use it to actually sell your products?

Revit helps avoid building mistakes by allowing you to catch them before the first nail is hammered so why not build that prevention in?    When mistakes are caught, particularly before the fact, costs are reduced.  Period.  Same goes for layouts.

So use your new Revit content to also update your spec sheets, brochures, tech and operations manuals, signage, and make sure the right information makes it into the project.  For even more potential cost savings, consider photorealistic renders instead of building a piece of equipment just for a brochure glamour shot.

Anyone with field experience can vouch for these points, so don’t wait to correct your content.  Protect your customers, protect yourselves.

Next Up:  Multi-part: A non-AutoCAD User’s Guide to Learning JUST ENOUGH Revit to be dangerous…to your COMPETITION, that is!






Multi-Task Your Revit Library

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

At least 150 foodservice equipment manufacturers have made Revit content for their products available to commercial kitchen designers and design/build dealers since 2011. That’s also when Revit standards were developed by the FCSI/NAFEM Revit Task Force which were updated in December, 2015. The advantage of those standards is to provide uniformity in how content is created so that a design doesn’t look like a patchwork quilt.
Your Revit Library Today & What Is Involved in Upgrading
So if you’ve only distributed it and otherwise just sat on it, you are missing out. While it isn’t common for a manufacturer to be trained in Revit or even have a license, there is an advantage to having someone in your organization know how to use it. Below you will find ideas to get alterative use out of your library INSIDE your organization for sales and marketing, and they are all do-able in-house.
As pointed out in previous articles, all content created in 2011-12 needs to be upgraded, but the money paid out to do so in the first place drew a Botox-worthy scowl from Finance departments industry-wide.
While you won’t be starting from scratch, now is a good time to examine it by getting a third party to evaluate it, screenshot issues and provide a roadmap to get errors corrected, files upgraded including adjusting materials to coincide with the latest Revit standards for foodservice to make them uniform with other products likely to make it into a project, and investigate making content render-ready. If you will use content for sales/marketing, what elements can you add that are specific to your brand/models? Is there something special about your control panel that makes it identifiable? What choices can you add for in-family configuration? You also want to make sure utilities schedule COMPLETELY and correctly.
So while you may have ORIGINALLY spent anywhere from $50-$200 for EACH family, you won’t be charged that today, particularly if existing geometry can be reused.. Besides, aren’t their new products to introduce with NAFEM just 6 months away?
Here’s what you can do to make that library ‘multi-task’ enough to justify the cost of upgrading it beyond making it easier for your CUSTOMERS to use.
Virtual Walk Through of Your NAFEM/Trade Show Booth
NAFEM is 3 days and there are 500 manufacturers. Even if attending all three days, your customers can realistically spend meaningful time with fewer than 75. How do YOU, as a manufacturer, ensure that you are among those getting a visit? The answer: a virtual walk-through of your booth, made in Revit and accessible to designers before the event, to make your booth and products a “must see”. Product details for download can also be included. Putting your products into a Revit project, showing how they schedule in projects also proves the worth of your library and why you should be specified. Tell the story, sell your product, while at the same time providing access to your newer products to those who could not attend the show.
Alternative Configurations for your Product, Even Market Segment-Specific
Every day, reps come across customers who want your product configured very specifically and wants to see it. If you don’t have any installed nearby or anywhere, a Revit drawing configured properly can save the sale. Example: a flight-type dishwasher with a longer load end or prewash. A serving or chef’s counter, even storage shelving. Why not create a starting point that can be modified?

two dishwaswhers

Custom spec sheets can be made for use when the project goes out for bid making it easier for consultants and owners to hold specs. Those sheets can be set up in advance so when you need them, it is a matter of dragging and dropping what you want in them.

type catalog

Prior Approval Requests for Bid Jobs/Holding your own Specs
Most consultants & architects have a procedure for approving alternates. What better and faster way than to put specified, including “pick 3” and your products into a project side by side, schedule them, dimension them, prove that they will or won’t work with surrounding products. Then, using a third party add-in, print off the spec sheets which will automatically be pulled, and numbered for you. Not only is it a spot check to make sure your products will work in the job, have comparable utilities, rather than pour over spec sheets, it makes it easy for a consultant to review because the essentials are right in front of him. Just doing the exercise yourself can keep you from submitting your products when they won’t work. Many consultants cannot charge to review alternates so the faster you can make the process for them, the better.

competitive comparison
Also helpful, put the ‘pick 3’s’ side by side. Dealers need to understand that often, pre-approved products are by brand and they are still expected to meet/exceed the written specs.

Competitive Comparisons and Choices
Most reps want them if for no other reason than to learn, but often, an end user will expect to know differences among products and brands. What a better way to start is via a Revit drawing showing these products side by side. You can even show the SAME product but configured in a number of ways. Before/after scenarios are also easily done using Revit.

Update, Enhance Existing Content
• Older content might not schedule or may not have been constructed properly. Revit is also case & space-sensitive. As a result, duplicate elements can show up.
• You’ve added/discontinued or changed products.
• FCSI/NAFEM Revit Task Force has designed a material library & you need to incorporate it.

bunn render


• Older content can “break” in newer versions of Revit. (This happens when Revit attempts to upgrade the Revit file, and that file was built using criteria not contained in later versions.) When content breaks, it cannot enter the project, so a designer has to drop everything and call the rep or factory.

face based

• New foodservice-friendly features including a universal materials library and the ability to “cut with void” which means a drop-in or control panel will ‘cut’ the counter as it enters the project.

cut with void side by side


• Add missing information. Commonly missing: refrigerant charge, filtered water parameters/temperatures, drain water discharge temperatures, clearances.
• Add color and material CHOICES.

Combi compare
• Check out Steven Shell’s AU presentation for more tips on using GREAT content!
Next Up: Preventing Design/Installation Disasters; Using Revit content for sales/marketing tools; The ‘Art’ of the Competitive Comparison

Are you content with your Revit CON-Tent?

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

When the Foodservice Consultant Society International (FCSI) members started urging food equipment manufacturers to get on board with Revit, some asked, ‘where’s the frogs?’

Revit™,  commonly mispronounced, short for ‘revise instantly’ is an ARCHITECTURAL program used in Building Information Modeling (BIM.) More and more architects demand that foodservice consultants they hire provide commercial kitchen designs in Revit™. Purchased by Autodesk™ in 2002, with the Autodesk engine behind it, Revit has quickly become the architectural standard in the US. It is now a given that consultants have expertise in Revit or have staff who do.
Some consultants adopted Revit early because their architects demanded it or it made their firm stand out from competitors. They often (painfully) developed their own content because there just wasn’t any available. FCSI & NAFEM introduced industry standards in 2011 and most major manufacturers got on board, many of them contracting with content creators to produce libraries to those standards. Revit symbols are known as ‘families’ and they are ‘smart’ with utilities and other attributes built in. A pipe also knows it’s a pipe, so it isn’t all about geometry or just 3D.
Let the hand-wringing begin: the learning curve, hardware upgrade$, $oftware expen$e, new hire$, training, out$ourcing, etc., and that’s just for the consultants. What about the MANUFACTURERS charged with creating or outsourcing Revit families or risk not having their products specified? Didn’t we just go through this with AutoCAD, they wondered? Worse, Revit is NOT backwards-compatible so many users held onto their perpetual licenses rather than embrace the Autodesk subscription model, now mandatory since August 1. The current Revit version is 2017, and FCSI standards, updated December, 2015, require manufacturer content to be no more than TWO VERSIONS behind current. Alas, most publicly available foodservice Revit™ content was done in Revit 2011 & 2012 with nothing done since.

Sample Revit family submittal
Sample of what a manufacturer should expect from their Revit content creator for review.

Not for Engineering-It’s Architecture
Most manufacturers use engineering software such as Solidworks™, Inventor™, ProE™, etc., and could export an AutoCAD™ .dwg out of it. But manufacturers in large part hired outside experts and published symbols on their websites or through third party libraries such as KCL™ & AutoQuotes™. But virtually no manufacturer owned a Revit license OR wanted to, or had an employee who could use it out of the box. Why would they? They aren’t architects and you cannot engineer products using Revit, nor can products be reverse-engineered from Revit families. Manufacturers are not kitchen designers so why buy this program?
While later Revit versions will accept earlier files, pull up your lawn chair and grab a beer while you wait for them to upgrade when placed in your consultant customer’s project, bringing work to a halt. Worse, an error message because the content ‘broke,’ common for counter top or “face” based families. So what’s a manufacturer to do, particularly if you haven’t a clue what I just said?
So NOW what do I do?
If you are a manufacturer with Revit content, the news isn’t all bad. You may just need to purge your library of discontinued products, or correct incorrect/incomplete information, and get a bulk file upgrade. If your Revit file sizes are over 1MB, that’s a great reason to revise. Spec sheet guidelines (NAFEM+FCSI)  were also updated in December, 2015, so now, before the NAFEM Show in February, is a great time to get your library, including spec sheets, in order, as well as get your new products project specification-ready by having Revit families immediately available for those who want to spec your products right away.
Why Spend the $$?
Savvy manufacturers discovered that Revit is a great vehicle to make “sales drawings,” even product-specific spec sheets, that could be delivered quickly and revised easily, often over the phone. Salespeople often task their engineering department to get a drawing STRICTLY to get a shot at the work! Their drawings are typically produced using engineering software which yields more “drawing/detail” than necessary, takes longer to complete, and don’t even ask about revisions or you’ll get the ‘stink-eye.’ Or, their deliverable could be just a 2D AutoCAD drawing, so no way for the customer to visualize your product in their facility. Also, producing sales drawings cuts into the valuable engineering time needed to develop new products & produce production drawings for orders already in-house. Revit for Sales and Marketing allows your Revit content to multi-task.

BIM Data built in
FCSI shared parameter use labels utilities & become part of the geometry making Revit families “smart.”  Clearance can be turned off in visibility settings.

Next Steps: How do Manufacturers get new or upgrade their Revit content?
Content creators should be producing in Revit 2014 or 15.  Confirm it.  Version 2014 added new food service-friendly features and other ‘nerd stuff’ I won’t get into.
• Get your current content evaluated- FCSI Shared Parameters circa 2015? Can geometry be re-used? Can the file size (*.rfa) be reduced? Does it ‘schedule’ showing all utility connections? What about materials? FCSI has 2014 & 2016 materials libraries. Get screenshots and prepare to empathize with the consultant community using your content. See what the complaining is about in the context of your own products.

Make sure any new content is multi-purpose; usable in any library, including your website for download, and third party libraries/tools including: AutoQuotes™, AQ Designer™, KCL™, and Specifi™ (Previously known as MasterChef) if you sell your products worldwide. Autodesk SEEK™ is another option.

• Can your content become more configurable, such as adding/changing door/drawers/legs/casters/shelves/voltages, finishes, etc? Does it have all of the information needed for today’s designs? If the consultant has to leave the project, even to check a spec sheet, manual or model number, that takes time.
• Look for ways to make your products easier to specify. If you have drop-in’s,  build the “cut” in.
• Learn what you can about Revit.  Especially now that Revit LT (light version, same as standard except no in-program rendering or third party program add-in capabilities) can be had for under $500/seat/year . It pays to learn just enough to make quick revisions yourself.
• Does pricing include updated 3D AutoCAD symbols? What rendering capabilities will new content have? Might save enough $$ on photography to offset the content upgrade or create a navigation tool or menu to make your products’ families easy to find on your website. An intuitive search menu is ideal.
• In your travels, ASK consultants what they do and do not like about your content, and manufacturer-provided content in general, and what you can do to improve it. Know that they will appreciate that you asked.

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