Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Harvey's Evaluation of Processes: Fabrication Parts vs. SysQue









The most important part of this post is to share our workflow behind the entire Autodesk MEP Fabrication Suite released in April 2017, and why we have come to the conclusion to adopt this software for our future processes and success of our fabrication processes as a plumbing and mechanical contractor.

Background

This process initially began relying heavily on SysQue (http://sysque.com/) and Building Data (https://www.building-data.net/) because Autodesk had not implemented all the right steps for our firm to be able to adopt fabrication parts, nor a method for creating efficient content. Some of the problems have been fixed with the most recent release of the Autodesk MEP Fabrication Suite (http://www.autodesk.com/products/fabrication-products/buy). I am going to initially state that we wouldn't have been able to get as far as we have today as a company without SysQue's Building Data Content. When we began using Sysque's tool in 2016, we had quite a few problems with it. Certain things were effective, but others were lacking or non existent. Building Data's content was our main reason for purchasing the license, as it offered most of the pieces we needed to work on 3D design. Sysque has been working to improve their tool to continue to compete in the MEP software economy. The software competing with Sysque and Building Data is coming directly from Autodesk. This software is called Autodesk MEP Fabrication Suite, which focuses on the use of CID patterns which guide the user to creating effective content, as well as some out of the box content which starts the user with fabrication level parts. The MEP Fab Suite is fairly new, but has been developing quite efficiently since its creation. Due to its
infancy as a software, there are also a few issues that come with the benefit of standardizing fabrication pieces. Both hold positive and negative aspects, and the main purpose of this post is to discuss those pros and cons, and how that led to our decision in software.

Before I go any further in depth with this I would like to state that when the MEP Fab Suite first came out, Sysque created a comparision video. The video link is here, and I highly advise people to note while watching this video that a lot of corrections have been made more than likely thanks to the concerns of this video in the MEP Fabrication Suite that launched in April this year and that this video holds a bias for the company who created it.


SysQue's Fabrication Video for Revit 2016's initial launch of fabrication parts versus their use of the tool.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQU_1Rvs99c

Harvey's Evaluation of SysQue vs. Autodesk's MEP Fabrication Suite

Now that you've watched the video and that you understand this is prior to the release of Revit 2017 and the new enhancements to fabrication parts we can continue our discussion of our process using fabrication parts in our workflow. First we will list the Pro's and Con's of each. These pro's and con's have been compiled from a year and a half of use of SysQue leading up to Autodesk's improving updates implemented to it's initial failed integration of fabrication parts in Revit 2016 through the release of the MEP Fabrication Suite in April 2017.

The Pros and Cons (SysQue)
 
Pros and Cons of SysQue

Pros:

  • Building Data has done an exceptional job creating accurate content. This content has led to our ultimate success of rapid production through the utilization of Revit Families.
  • Native Revit Workflow
  • One software and one tool workflow (all integrated inside of Revit)
  • Due to its nativity to Revit, when Revit updates system families related to Sysque's software assist the add-in
  • When content created by Building Data has errors, response has been fairly quick to correct the problem.

Cons:


  • Content creation (requesting content) often yielding no results or takes a very long time.
  • Several pieces of content contain errors.
  • The process to submit content is time consuming.
  • The tool consistently throws application errors. However it is constantly undergoing updates to mitigate these updates (which can often being annoying and slow production)
  • The content is not easily accessible, and is a process in itself to download and install due to regulations and fear on Building Data's side of a security breach. (understandable)
  • The tool is a third party addin that is not updated with Revit; therefore, your office becomes dependent on when they want to release the updates (typically three months out of the initial release of the new Revit software sometimes longer), and this could easily set a firm back in terms of collaborators they are working with.
  • Very difficult to successfully tie to an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System. i.e. Product ID's and Aliases.
  • Tool requires extensive training that is influenced by SysQue to be done on-site which is an additional fee to the cost of the software.
  • Almost all content is created initially as an ITM; therefore, impeding on the Revit family creation time.
  • The price (comparatively) is incredibly high.
  • The Sysque workflow must be adopted and followed to a tee.
  • Licensing issues (sometimes the license is dropped, and a representative must be called to assist in confusing computer work arounds)


The Pros and Cons (MEP Fabrication Suite)

Image result for Revit MEP Fabrication Suite

Pros and Cons of ITM Content and the MEP Fabrication Suite

Pros:

  • Issues with families being "broken" is mitigated by a rigid part with rigid connectors.
  • Very good response to customer support and suggestions.
  • The price (comparatively) is incredibly good.
  • Allows for a slightly more customizable workflow for companies.
  • The company who purchased the software is in control of product lists and content
  • CIDs for parts that allow for accurate and consistent content across the boards.
  • Ability to centralize a database and control access.
  • Ability to tie an ERP system to Revit elements.
  • Autodesk Software. First year of their seven year plan; therefore, many years and the financial backing to be upgraded, and between their first failed integration (as pointed out by SysQue) to their second release demonstrates a dedication to the software.

Cons:

  • The initial launch of fabrication parts was broken and didn't prove to be useful until the latest release of the Revit 2017 platform.
  • Updating content on a shared file is difficult and often creates disconnects in multiple systems.
  • Colors and materials cannot be applied. Only projection line color can be changed, limiting system diagramming abilities.
  • Absolutely no tutorials even after receiving the software, and parts of the software is not very intuitive.
  • No training available online. Similarly to Sysque you must hire someone to come train an office.
  • A lack of content compared Building Data
  • Lack of methods to suggest content / CID patterns (a clean, easy way to suggest new patterns would be nice)
  • An inability to edit systems (through system families) often creates the need to duplicate content exactly in order to have two different systems (ie Hot and Cold Pex Pipe)
  • Geometry is a referenced CAD File; therefore, there are currently some filtering restrictions with Revit view filters. 
  • Three - Four Step Process with multiple pieces of software. Need to learn the workflow and invest times in understanding each tool, and how they communicate with one another.
  • Some of the pieces to the Three to Four Step process seem as though they could be integrated to create less steps.

    After evaluating both of these softwares, we have chosen to move forward with Autodesk's MEP Fabrication Suite. As a small company, some of these factors effect us more than others, while some larger companies hold different levels of concern on each of these matters (as well as other concerns). The main concerns for our company are the large cost difference between softwares and ability to tie our E.R.P. system into the MEP Fab Suite. The most important goal for our company is to trust the software we have implemented and to ensure the software is going to benefit our overall long-term goals. Autodesk has given us this trust by continually listening to our interests on their idea station forums (I will post these at the bottom of the article).

Harvey's Workflow with the MEP Fabrication Suite

Where to start in your learning process:

Step One: CAMduct Database

Step Two: ESTmep Integration

Step Three: Revit MEP Fabrication and Production


Suggestions for improvement on both tools and the ultimate goal of this post.

The primary intention of this article is to stimulate a discussion on the future of each product to benefit the industry, and to effectively communicate our concerns with each so that these concerns are addressed in future releases. This is not intended to insult one company over another or to form a bias, but to effectively communicate why our company is relying on one over another, and listing out reasons or ways that each could benefit their customers through a software upgrade through future releases. All feedback is accepted. This is encouraged to create a professional discussion that is intended towards a positive direction in our industry.

It's also important to note that having both tools in our industry will ultimately push the direction of our industry in the right direction by creating professional competition and development.

Link to Autodesk Idea Station Forums List:

http://forums.autodesk.com/t5/custom/page/page-id/Ideas-Page

6 comments:

  1. Your bias and mine aside, the pros and cons here do not support your conclusion.
    Summary: SysQue is Revit RFA content. Fabrication database is not Revit and it is not a content solution.
    SysQue is native Revit workflow. Fabrication is not.
    Fabrication Pro: It was not a 7 year plan it was expected to take 2 years and has been 7.
    https://youtu.be/Yz5S1kPbKFw?t=8m
    SysQue Cons: Most are attributed to content for which Autodesk Fabrication does not offer a managed content solution as part of Fabrication.

    SysQue and Building Data will be releasing an API next month at the Annual User Group meeting that will tie native Reivt workflow with the managed content, to other systems such as ERP system, estimating, shop fabrication, procurement, field installation. We hope you will attend.

    The cost of content creation and management is the real cost of Fabrication product and database. http://jimreis.tumblr.com/post/148798003976/how-long-should-a-software-company-screw-with-a

    One should not expect to implement a ERP system with a Fabrication database without managed content cost. Cost of software is nothing compared to content creation and management cost. Limbach Company revealed during a 2014 presentation at Autodesk University that they have invested $2.2 million dollars to create their Autodesk Fabrication CADmep/ESTmep database. And it took them three years to implement it.

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