Foodservice Industry is Making Wide Use of BIM


BIM works at its best when everyone is working in it.

Mention the word “Revit” to a room full of foodservice facility designers and the resulting groans are likely to be louder than a pond full of croaking Kermits. By our own estimation (a wild guess but probably not inaccurate), about 80% of designers still use AutoCAD to produce drawings from which commercial kitchens are built.

Some of you are asking, “You got a problem with that?” We don’t, but you might. Here’s why.

“AutoCAD just produces lines that represent an object,” according to Brick Brunton, Senior Designer, Smith & Greene, Kent, Wash. “A CAD block or object has no intelligence, no information embedded in it. Revit is a database-driven program, so objects or families are imbued with information and can be manipulated easily depending on how much information is available.”

“The difference is that a Revit family is a smart symbol,” says Suzanne Painter-Supplee, LEED AP+ID&C, Principal, SEE Solutions, Phoenix. “A designer could use 18-in. pipes to show a roller table at the end of a dish machine and AutoCAD would have no problem with it. But that doesn’t give an operator any helpful information when it comes to specifying and purchasing an actual roller table, including load type, steel or aluminum roller material, roller diameter and spacing, high or low roller sets, etc. With Revit, that information is part of the family parameters.”

As originally printed in FER Magazine

Why Does It Matter?

When all of the information about a building project—from the specs of the foodservice equipment to the materials used for the walls, ceiling and floor—are included in the architectural and design drawings, that information can be used in a multitude of ways. It becomes, in essence, part of building information management (BIM).

Designing to BIM standards is now required in several countries around the world.Using Revit or Revit-compatible software to design buildings and foodservice kitchens, is coming—like it or not—and that wave is already washing up on shore.

What’s The Benefit?

A lot of people think the only reason to use Revit is to generate 3D renderings of how a project might look. And those who are firmly ensconced in the AutoCAD world will tell you that Auto-CAD can give you 3D drawings, too. Maybe not as pretty as a color rendering, but just as effective in practical terms. That’s not true.

The real incentive to switch to smart Revit families from “dumb” AutoCAD objects now if you haven’t already, though, is what those smart families can do for you, including saving you money. In AutoCAD, lines on a drawing might signify a dish machine, for example, and give its dimensions. But those lines don’t specify what type of dish machine, what electrical service it requires, the incoming water temperature and pressure it needs to operate efficiently, whether or not incoming water needs to be treated, or whether the machine has a built-in booster or needs one.

A piece of software can’t do all those things either, but by building that information—all of it—into a Revit family, when a designer drops that object into a drawing, all the information you need to get bids, etc., becomes part of the drawing. The drawing becomes your master plan for the entire kitchen.

Immediate benefits to using database-driven design are that changes to the design can be accomplished far more quickly and accurately, saving time and money.

“In Revit, once you bring families in, you can see how things are going to flow,” says Ted Doyals, FCSI, Principal, Ricca Design Studios, Edge cliff Village, Texas. “That 3D rendering can show you if an equipment layout might impede workflow, especially for people who have a difficult time envisioning space in 2D. And we can change it on the fly. We can resolve issues in one meeting that used to take two or three, weeks apart.”

For example, if you look at a design and realize that you need to move the steamer to the other end of the cook line away from the fryer bank, the change can be made in minutes, and the program will recognize that drain and utility locations also may have to change. That saves design time and money and prevents construction change orders down the road. All the ramifications of making a design change are immediately obvious, and changes get adopted throughout all project files simultaneously.

The parameters that define an object or family in Revit can contain other information as well, including helpful documents such as the operating manual for that piece of equipment, maintenance schedules, warranty information, service life and more. Imagine what you can do with that information at your fingertips after a facility is built.

What’s Stopping You?

If Revit and Revit-compatible programs save time and save money in design, construction, and potentially a host of other areas, why haven’t more operators and design consultants adopted it?

“Those who are used to AutoCAD have a more difficult time with Revit,” agrees Doyals, “but the effort to learn Revit is worth it.”

Like anything else in our high-tech world (or even operators’ kitchens), put garbage in and you’ll get garbage out. That means making sure that whatever content you use, whether you get it directly from a manufacturer or from a content creator, is current, accurate and complete.

“We build our own families if a manufacturer doesn’t have them,” Doyals says. “And we build the ones manufacturers provide to our own specs. We have a quality-control system to verify the information, and we add internal parameters for our own purposes, like tracking cost data per square foot. Once a family is in our library, if it’s wrong, mistakes get carried forward from project to project, so we’re meticulous about checking.” Most facilities design firms, however, do not have resources available to a firm the size of Ricca to check content, and it’s becoming more imperative that the content manufacturers and Revit design services create is accurate from the start.

Ultimately, incorrect or missing information—whether it’s an AutoCAD object or Revit family—costs everyone involved in a project, including manufacturers. First, consultants and end-users are much more likely to order equipment from a supplier who has the most complete and up-to-date information, not from those who make life difficult by supplying out-of-date information and symbols. Manufacturers incur additional costs when incorrect symbols and information lead to incorrect specifications, equipment that is shipped in error, installed in error and ultimately returned. Labor delays, delays in the schedule, late openings, lost sales—equipment change-orders that result from incorrect specification information are costly affairs with domino-like ramifications.

Pay Me Now Or…

The consequences of not adopting Revit or using resources, designers and family content creators who do, are the same as not adapting to other technological changes like smart equipment or social media. If you don’t adapt, there are plenty of competitors willing to take your market share. Fortunately, the more sophisticated Revit and Revit-compatible programs become, and the more industry groups like FCSI and NAFEM do to help set standards, the easier it gets to create, update and cross-check equipment families and manufacturers’ libraries. With more and more manufacturers, consultants, designers and operators able to get on the same page using the same standards every day, the more valuable the information in Revitbased designs becomes.

What can you do to speed a process that’s inevitably going to dominate foodservice design? Start designing your future facilities and remodels using Revit or Revit-compatible programs. Tell consultants you work with that you want them to do the same. And insist that the manufacturers you normally buy from create libraries if they don’t have them, and update and ensure they’re complete if they do.

As originally printed in FER Magazine

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