Contact US

Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.

Students Click Here

Optimizing workflow

Optimizing workflow

Optimizing workflow

What do y'all do to optimize workflow? I'll list my own stuff with my specific setup and software. (Requested by bookowski, but I'm also interested.)

-Have several sheets of standard details that applies to almost any situation. For example, steel details that cover bracing, moment connections, base plates, etc. Aggresively reduce any details you need to draw specifically for any project.
-Any time a new detail is created, put it into a gigantic AutoCAD file of standards. I separate it by material, like having one for cold formed steel. The file itself should be organized into lots of different situations, like CFS on existing building, CFS with conc deck, CFS with plywood/Dragonboard, etc. Run quality control on this file once in a while for organization and weeding out outdated details.
-Put things into schedules as much as possible in order to not draw specific details.
-There are lots of things I use Excel for because it's specifically tailored to my typical projects and materials. Minimize the number of inputs. Software is more versatile, but usually it's faster to use a focused, purpose-built tool. Also, document every assumption made and possible "quirks," like something not working below or beyond a certain load because the assumptions will be broken. Make error messages for those quirks whenever possible using conditional formatting, IF statements, or VBA.
-Avoid VBA in spreadsheets unless it's strictly necessary. People can't understand it.
-Fully done, perfect examples of each type of building (CFS, wood, steel, etc) available to drafters as a starting point.
-This is gonna sound Machiavellian. But if you have employees, reduce thinking as much as possible through standardization. It speeds things up and reduces errors, and helps build upon gained knowledge. Almost nothing should be reinventing the wheel.

Start every project from a standard ETABS file with:
-Typical sizes of members, slabs, walls, etc.
-Auto select lists for beams and columns (like W10, W10 col, etc.)
-Load combinations
-"Once in a while" combinations like seismic overstrength combinations (it doesn't slow the analysis)
-Nonlinear load cases switched off (switch on when needed; this will destroy analysis speed by 10 to 100 times when turned on)
-Separate file for Auto Construction Sequence turned on (slows the analysis; only use when needed)
-Load combinations for wind (ASCE 7-10+ lower wind speed) and seismic drift (no limit on Cu)

-Export beam and column sizes from ETABS as a drawing, and paste into AutoCAD as a separate layer.
-For ETABS, I haven't found a way to easily export shear reactions, but I made a video for drafters on how to get it.
-ETABS will generate elevations with bracing. I delete column sizes so it doesn't get confused with the column schedule.
-Put concrete piers, base plates, anchor bolts, and column sizes all into one column schedule. No need to make separate details for each base plate; have a few typical situations.
-Have base plate standards for maximum axial load of each column size, and another one for a certain amount of moment together with anchor bolt sizes for your typical pier/footing size.
-Room for improvement: I'm experimenting with ETABS column schedule creation.

-Have schedules DRAFTED for most cases of isolated and strip footings with different sizes and bearing pressures. I have eccentric with wall, eccentric without wall, different pier and base plate sizes, etc. This takes absurdly long to design, so I automated it with VBA scripts. I have about 100 of these schedules. Drafting them took a few days. This is a huge advantage because the footing can be selected by a drafter when they have the ASD load.
-For standards, I have interchangeable bottom and top details that are separated by a break line. So if you want mat footing supported wall with CFS joists, you can do that. Same thing with steel beams, just change the top part.
-I have a spreadsheet for grade beams. Just enter footing dimensions and loading, and it designs it. This is possible in software, but a focused spreadsheet does it faster with fewer clicks.
-I have a spreadsheet for bearing wall axial loading. It has buttons for different stud spacings (12" for wall, 16" for studs) and fills in most values automatically from a few basic questions, like what is the wall/floor material and usage. Only numbers you need to input is the number of stories, story height, and span.
-Room for improvement: A tool to take foundation loading from ETABS and spit out footing schedules. That part is currently done manually.

-All long bearing walls will have #5@24", which works for 100% of my building sizes. Shear walls will have rebar in each cell and unfortunately needs to be calculated.
-Steel bearing plate on CMU has a simple to use schedule for max load for W8, W10, W12, etc. up to about 50 kips. Uneconomical, maybe, but it saves design time.
-Room for improvement: A spreadsheet to take forces from ETABS and automatically design shear walls (I don't trust the built-in ETABS design tool too much).

Cold formed steel
-I use CFS software. I've made pretty much every joist and beam size in a standard folder, since it takes time to build them. They get copied when needed.
-I have a spreadsheet for stair beams. You input the dead and live load, span, and stair opening size, and it calculates all the uniform and concentrated loading on the stairs. This gets input into CFS. There's probably room for improvement if I learned the CFS API and linked the program to the spreadsheet, but that would also introduce usability issues with engineers in the office.
-Standard stud schedules for number of stories, joist span, and flooring material. About 30 of them.
-Room for improvement: A spreadsheet where you put beam/joist loading and it automatically picks a section size. CFS can't do this natively.

-I suck at wood.

-Standard procedure made for obtaining results from SAFE using 1' on center design strips, which eliminates thinking.
-Excel file for column size determination using axial only. In my size of buildings, moment+axial never really controls. I'll still do an automatic P-M calculator in the future.
-Forget about direct design method. We never get nice rectangular bays.
-I made a guide on long-term deflection with load cases explained.
-I made guides on transferring between ETABS and SAFE, transfer slabs, soil subgrade calculation for mats, etc.
-Make a drafter lay out the rebar based on rules of thumb. Have an engineer design it.
-Room for improvement: Importing ETABS data for column and shear wall design, exporting schedules into AutoCAD.

RE: Optimizing workflow

This is a really great summary. For me working for just myself, my optimized workflow includes how to get my wife and son out of the house more smile

But seriously, your major theme about simplifying the engineering to drafting to finished drawing process is key regardless of how many employees you have. Pulling in details and schedules and notes that are already good to go with maybe minor tweaks saves enormous amounts of time. I am chief engineer and draftsman. I need to get that drafting done asap so I can get back to more engineering. Worth the time to archive and sort things.

RE: Optimizing workflow

@jerseyshore It takes an enormous amount of time upfront, but it does speed things up forever after that. Since you're a one man show, there's also the added benefit of not switching tasks too much. For me, I need to get into a certain headspace to do a calculation, like foundations or bearing plate or something. Then another headspace to draft it or do a different calculation. I don't smoke, but I need a kind of mental "smoke break." I try to cut down on that switching as much as possible.

RE: Optimizing workflow

Yes agreed. When I'm working for myself everything is intertwined so engineering and drafting and calcs all blend together. Any time I can save using a previous calc or detail or autocad file is a minute less that I'm awake past midnight.

RE: Optimizing workflow

@Milkshakelake, curious to know what your ratio of drafting to engineering hours are on typical projects?

I do alot of the same things listed. Having typical details that don't need to be customized for exact project geometry is probably the biggest time saver in overall project hours. Reigning in rounds of coordination with arch also is a challenge. Revit burns enormous amounts of hours.

For slabs, how are you transferring the engineering design back to drafting? Paper markup? PDF markup? Direct in Autocad? We use bluebeam toolsets with predefined items (standard bar lengths, hooked bars, etc) but it gets to the point where it feels like we are drafting it twice. Having the typical bars already drafted might be helpful.

-JA (working on Calcs.app)

RE: Optimizing workflow

@ggcdn I didn't take the time to analyze that specifically, but the drafting time seems to be much higher than engineering. Engineering time is fairly low, and some simple calculations are done by drafters as well. That's for everything except concrete. Concrete is very heavy on calculations, and the engineering/drafting time is about equal. Checking concrete shop drawings are another time drain. I'm conflicted about whether to have drafters or engineers check them. Drafters do it much faster (because they don't know as much), while engineers take forever but can find design errors.

I don't use Revit so I don't know much about that, but I agree that coordination is a huge time drain. I've tried things like coordinating all major items at the beginning (col locations, framing composition, major beam locations, etc) and sending an email about it. I've identified most things that could possibly be a coordination issue down the line. It still becomes a time drain when architects start changing things. This wasn't specifically about billing, but sending that initial email also helps when there are change orders.

For slabs, the drafter lays out the rebar with typical sizes/lengths based on span and the engineer changes it in AutoCAD directly. No paper or pdf in the middle.

RE: Optimizing workflow

Milkshake, thank you so much for sharing your workflows.

At the small firm I work at everyone basically does their own thing in terms of taking clients from start to finish. Everyone does their own calcs, drafting (some people do zero drafting at our firm), etc. and we share software subscriptions and our client base. I am one of the more detail oriented people capable of (and willing to do) full drawing sets, so I tend to take on most of the projects with drafting such that engineering is probably 40% and drafting is 60%.

I am trying to work up the courage to ask the owners of the company to invest in a drafter, so seeing your workflows here is so valuable. If I invest the up-front time others are talking about, I am confident I could keep a drafter busy full time so I can do more engineering and/or project management--which is the only way firms can really grow as far as I have learned from these forums. It's a big step up in terms of responsibility--I am used to worrying about myself and only myself.

RE: Optimizing workflow

Quote (Milkshakelake)

Drafters do it much faster (because they don't know as much), while engineers take forever but can find design errors.

Our trend is for drafters to review shop drawings (primarily steel), mainly to save the engineers doing it, but yeah, they don’t catch screw ups. Personally I think the designer should check their own shop drawings, as only they know the design intent.

RE: Optimizing workflow

We've found that Revit has greatly increased our efficiencies. We do mostly commercial work.
There is a learning curve, but once you're there, you'll never go back.
This is especially the case if you link it with an analysis software.

RE: Optimizing workflow

Question: For additional context. What is the structure of your business? I presume you run it, or at least senior in an org? How many engineers? Are you drafters employees or contract?

Quote (milkshakelake)

What do y'all do to optimize workflow?
Unfortunately I don't and I haven't done much optimisation. I haven't had the time. (I know the irony here, optimisation of workflow should repay in time relatively quickly.) So my response won't help much.

I have two gigs, one salary and one along side another engineer.

The first gig is very niche and has more than 50% not directly design work (assisting project manager and even commissioning work). The variation does keep things interesting. The design work is mostly steel structures and niche steel vessels. I need to optimise my building design by improving my default template to include loads. Good excel spreadsheets to calculate wind and seismic are still needed. This is all design/build work so a direct relationship with the detailers and drafters assist with efficiency. Where I might lack in design efficiency is more than made up for by communication efficiency and specific design work.

The other gig I have I am a junior partner. The design and drafting optimisations are already mostly in place. I'm still getting up to speed and hence need to optimise my communication work flow. As discussed in the other thread I have purchased a Surface Pro for PDF markups, as the current process was unsustainably slow. I use a whole host of excel spreadsheets made by the other partner, lots of standard details too.

Quote (RPGs)

I am trying to work up the courage to ask the owners of the company to invest in a drafter, so seeing your workflows here is so valuable. If I invest the up-front time others are talking about, I am confident I could keep a drafter busy full time so I can do more engineering and/or project management--which is the only way firms can really grow as far as I have learned from these forums. It's a big step up in terms of responsibility--I am used to worrying about myself and only myself.
Bite the bullet and do it. An experienced engineer should spend spent very little if any time drafting/drawing. Though I'd argue spending a decent amount of time doing it when less experience can give you highly valuable experience that some engineers never get. I routinely see poor steel engineering because the designers seem to have no idea about connections and steel detailing.

Quote (Tomfh)

Our trend is for drafters to review shop drawings (primarily steel), mainly to save the engineers doing it, but yeah, they don’t catch screw ups. Personally I think the designer should check their own shop drawings, as only they know the design intent.
Agreed regarding the engineer reviewing to ensure the design intent is achieved. With complex connections it is pretty easy to lose the design intent and drafters or even junior engineers won't pick up the subtle issues that if the loads are high could be quite problematic. I often see steel structure in the field where the design intent of the engineer has clearly not been achieved and has not been picked up.

I generally review the 3D models as I have a wealth of experience in that. I find it faster and more efficient that way, I'll generally try for progressive reviews to avoid wholesale changes once shop drawings are produced.

Quote (IceNine)

We've found that Revit has greatly increased our efficiencies. We do mostly commercial work.
There is a learning curve, but once you're there, you'll never go back.
This is especially the case if you link it with an analysis software.
I agree with the use of 3D software. I do industrial work with steel, designing things from 2D plans would be a nightmare.

RE: Optimizing workflow

@RPGs No problem, just trying to help others and glean some intel myself. I'm no expert and always looking to improve. I think the delineation of drafters/engineers helps when the upper management want to cut costs. Drafters cost less. Having highly paid engineers do simple drafting is not a good use of money. On the other hand, having drafters do all the drafting isn't efficient either, because some things like column layouts are better handled by an engineer. Same applies for coordination; drafters can do some basic coordination. If 60% of your time is drafting, it sounds like a drafter can take at least 40% of that away from you. But before you dive into it with your management, there should be a clear plan for training the drafter and what to do if you can't feed them enough work. I think this kind of thing has to come from the top down, from people who are willing to make decisions and change stuff with an action plan, and can see the value of front-loading some work (most people don't). The front-loading might have to be done before hiring another person, which isn't possible unless the time is budgeted for that. If you take the burden yourself, you might get burned if it doesn't work out. But if it does work out, there's always the possibility of getting promoted or other stuff like that. Or at least getting some management experience.

@Tomfh I'll probably experiment with drafters checking basic stuff in shop drawings, like slab and column rebars. And then having the engineer check again for design errors.

@IceNine Thanks, I'll check that out. As far as I know, it probably wouldn't help much with things like cold formed steel and wood. Might be nice for concrete and steel. Does it work nicely with messy projects, with things like existing walls, stepped footings, existing footings, and other shenanigans?

@human909 I'm the owner. We have 3 engineers including myself and 3 drafters. I had 2 part time engineers doing side hustle for overflow type situations, but haven't used them for about a year; quality control suffers. Our secretary left after leaving the bookkeeping and taxes in shambles (I admit I should've been keeping an eye on it). I've spent months fixing that, but once that's done, I have grand plans to expand to 10-20 people. No idea if that'll work, but it'll be a journey at least. What do you do in terms of communication efficiency? I haven't figured out that part yet.

RE: Optimizing workflow

It does fine with wood and cold formed steel, but in my opinion, it really shines with steel and concrete.
Revisions are much easier. For example, if you move a grid line, it moves at all levels. Columns, footings, and girders move automatically. Joists respace automatically, dimensions update, etc.
It's also great for drawing organization as everything is in one file, and multiple people can work on the file at the same time.

One of the best benefits is that in putting the drawings together you're actually putting the building together and you (and the drafters) tend to think more about how it actually goes together instead of just drawing lines.
You can easily view something in 3D to help you solve a trick framing situation.

RE: Optimizing workflow

I'm going to push back on the idea of efficiency through specialized drafters -- at least for all market segments.

It works well in repetitive niches (buildings, short span bridges, utilities) and with the right personnel (a balance of experience and personality).

But in other cases, it's very easy to spend more time in the markup and backcheck cycle than the original engineer would have spent drafting it themselves.

RE: Optimizing workflow

@Lomarandil I believe that with the right standards and training, drafters can be used effectively for general work. The backchecking time gets reduced with strict enforcement of standards. The advanced drafting tasks that engineers do should be delegated properly, especially at the beginning of a project. But the majority of stuff - like title blocks, layouts, backgrounds, most beam and stud wall placement, rebar placement, shear wall and column schedules (based on calculations), foundations, typical details, general notes, and things like that can be done by a junior drafter. For schedules and general notes, I keep things that need attention on every project in a different color (things like seismic load/system, holdowns, and special inspections).

It also helps to split the drafter and engineer specialties. For example, one of my drafters is good with preconstruction surveys, site safety plans, foundations, support of excavation (including calculations; it's pretty formulaic), and cold formed steel. Another one specializes in demolition, steel, concrete, and cold formed steel. Etcetera.

RE: Optimizing workflow

For similar firms as ours (~20 engineers), managing detail libraries/templates with Revit is far easier than in AutoCAD. Not only is it easier to manage and update, it encourages far more uniform drafting and design standards between various engineers, and it reduces errors. Drafting views have designer notes and hyperlinks to important design processes in our MS Teams Onenote wiki. Though it was initially painful standardizing everything and going through years of typical detail auditing, code updates, etc, the effort has paid off. New people don't even want to use AutoCAD....and I agree, I don't use it much any more. Even if my job requires no 3D modeling, the sheet and detail management in Revit is superior.


RE: Optimizing workflow

@MacGruber22 Thanks for the tip. Someone else mentioned Revit, and with your endorsement, I definitely have to try it out. It might take some adjustment but it's worth it in terms of standardizing things.

RE: Optimizing workflow

I am using revit as well, I haven't invested the time into managing a detail Library. But I have lately been trying to leverage revit to assist with the structural design, and finding new ways every project.

For example. You can store information on the revit model structural objects such as, end reactions, design status.
Measuring all the length of walls that are tributary to floor levels for seismic design can be automated and put into a table.
Custom families can take in minimal inputs about loading and select engineered components, like headers and footings.

And getting even more complicated, I have used Revit/Dynamo to spit out a bunch of information into a custom python script to run entire lateral analysis, then export the reactions, chord forces, and wall design back into revit.

I think there is huge and untapped potential in Revit (bim) for structural engineers to improve workflow.

RE: Optimizing workflow

Enercalc just came out with a really slick add-in for Revit (Enercalc for Revit). I demo'd it a while back. It works similar to what @driftLimiter described - storing design information in object properties. E.g. click on a beam and the program will extract geometry as well as tributary areas, etc, then imports this info into Enercalc where the design is performed. Then it round-trips the design back into revit with the updated beam size. It also stores end reactions that can/will be applied to the next 'down-stream' (supporting) member so that one can be designed. It can also apply V/G filters so you can see code check status of each member in your 3D revit model.

There was a thread somewhere a while back where we discussed this. I really liked the demo. Handy for engineers who get into revit and do modeling themselves.

I'm sure @CConrad would be happy to provide any new info since I demo'd it some months ago.

Edit: Here's the link to that thread https://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=497509

RE: Optimizing workflow

Here is a vote for Enercalcs revit addin as well. I used the demo a while back too after @CConrad posted about it here. Really nice to have load linking ability with enercalc. TBH it left me really wanting the load linking feature in Enercalc native SEL.

RE: Optimizing workflow

Quote (drift)

And getting even more complicated, I have used Revit/Dynamo to spit out a bunch of information into a custom python script to run entire lateral analysis, then export the reactions, chord forces, and wall design back into revit.

That is a step beyond us. I have beam families with reactions and other things for scheduling and general organizing, but not actual analysis syncing. The most I have done with Python is create a script to add "+/-" onto the suffix of existing dimension strings. Now, I noticed Revit 22 has suffixes built right into the dim family. Of all the great things about Revit, the things that take forever to improve make my head itchy.

Quote (dold)

Enercalc just came out with a really slick add-in for Revit (Enercalc for Revit).
Interesting. I will take a look at, though I would be afraid it would be buggy. I am not sure which is more buggy, enercalc or tedds.

Frankly, a lot of the struggle is teaching everyone in the office about the improvements and following up that they are using all the tools that have been developed.


RE: Optimizing workflow

@MSL - Thanks for putting that together. It's given me a couple of ideas and motivated me to get my act together.

The thread seems to have sidetracked into revit vs cad which is a different topic. It sounds like you're completely cad based and my 2 cents is that you should stay that way. For things like the soe and site safety plans that you referenced I see zero value in revit. Personally, I'm not even convinced it's that much better for buildings. I definitely see that it's much better in some ways but I also think it's a massive time suck for others so not a clear winner to me.

A few other thoughts on your outline:
- The save every detail thing can get messy. I've done the same off and on but at some point you have so many variations that finding what you need becomes problematic. Ideally you'd have an interface where you plug in "concrete job, on rock, etc etc" and it would retrieve the 20 typical details you need. I worked briefly at a small firm that would print a hard copy of the detail library in book form every so often with each detail having a library #. The interchangeable top and bottom details area a great idea.
- You seem to rely heavily on drafters. You must be finding much more intelligent drafters than I encounter if you're letting them do simple designs. I worked at a big firm that was the complete opposite of this - we had probably 1 drafter per 10 engineers if that and we drafted 90% of our own work. I've carried this over into my own work for better or worse. When you look at the financials of it does it make sense? Around here a new grad engineer would make mid 60's, a drafter isn't much cheaper - maybe mid 50's. You have to pay both benefits. To me the new grad engineer, made to draft as well, is going to make up that salary difference and more. At some level of engineers this falls apart and you need dedicated drafters for production but I'm surprised at your scale you have enough to keep them busy and profitable 24/7.
- SAFE designs directly or near directly into a drawing are a huge battle and big time suck. I've seen that some of the big firms have developed slick tools that allow this but there's nothing out there for the rest of us. The lack of in-program design straight to drawing is a major flaw in SAFE.
- 100% agree on dedicated excel tools. That's the software I would take to a deserted island.

RE: Optimizing workflow

@driftLimiter & dold I downloaded the Revit trial and will put it through its paces, and see how it stacks up against AutoCAD. Definitely doesn't seem hard to use at first glance.

@bookowski Yes I am completely CAD based at the moment. I'll try Revit and see how it works out. Even if AutoCAD is the better option, I'd be remiss if I didn't give Revit a shot. I agree that things like SOE and site safety plans might need to stick to CAD.

About the large number of details getting messy, it does, but I monitor the standards and get rid of details that I never think I'd need. And I separate them by material and use. There's also a few sheets of standard details that will always be on a job of a certain type, like cold-formed steel. This is a tiny snippet of the non-standard details:

About drafters, for me, it's about taking intelligence out of the equation (which also applies for engineers) by having strict standards. And it does financially make sense, because drafters are closer to 40's and 50's while engineers are in the 70's and 80's, not separated by about 10k like you said. Might be a different job market where I am. I tend not to use new grads for engineers; they cost a lot and aren't any better than a trained drafter. The simple calculations drafters do are very simple, like routine load calculations (just pulling things from a spreadsheet) and entering spans. It's more like data entry than engineering. My scale is not large, but I hope this method scales as the company grows. I worked in companies where the lines were blurred between drafting and engineering, and it just didn't seem all that efficient. Lomarandil did push back on that idea, so there's probably merit to both approaches, and it's dependent on management style.

I agree that translating SAFE designs to drawings are generally a nightmare. The SAFE output is pretty much useless in its native form. I wish I had the resources to develop a tool to directly translate it into AutoCAD. Actually, I wish I had the resources for a lot of programming things, but the cost-benefit doesn't work out at my scale.

RE: Optimizing workflow

Quote (milkshakelake)

I'll try Revit and see how it works out.

I'll be honest, didn't read the whole the thread. But this statement jumped out at me. Revit isn't something you just 'try out'. It's a completely different beast than autocad. Yes, it ultimately performs the same function (produce construction/permit drawings), but it does it in a very different way.

I'd suggest watching a bunch of videos on using revit for structures. See if you see a benefit. If a lot of your architects and the MEP teams are using it, there can be big benefits. On big jobs, clash detection can be wonderful. Because the the W18 is an actual 18" deep steel beam in the model rather than a line in 2d model space, the program can compare it to the MEP model and you know that a 16" duct is scheduled to pass through the same place - before the mechanical contractor is firing up his torch.

Revit is something to jump into and don't look back. Try to hold on to CAD a little bit (details are easier, so I'll just draw those in CAD; we'll just use dummy elements in the model and draw over them in CAD; etc.), and you'll be drowning in inefficiencies. Make the leap, work through the pains of the transition, and you'll be set. I started by using Revit LT with a couple clients that are Revit only. It's been great and those projects are a lot smoother. So I'll be making my complete switch here in the next week or so when my LT subscription runs out.

RE: Optimizing workflow

Quote (bookowski)

Ideally you'd have an interface where you plug in "concrete job, on rock, etc etc" and it would retrieve the 20 typical details you need.

I worked at a ~80 person firm for a few years. This is exactly how our standards were implemented in project startups. All details were drawn in autocad but then exported/linked/somthing... into the revit sheets (if using revit). The designer simply enter a command like "setup sheet > steel > floor > typicals" (or something like that) which would populate the "typical sheets" (via LISP) with a predefined selection of details. I'd assume the "typical sheets" were defined in a .txt file somewhere that the program would reference when populating the sheets. I believe the command would actually copy the needed details from the "master file" into a new project specific folder so you can edit. Each detail was it's own .dwg, which (I think) would be xref'd into the details sheet. Then once the initial setup was completed the engineer would just cross out any unneeded details and modify others as needed. Each detail had a unique identifier (file name like 8-379247 or whatever) that the LISP program would use to manage the typical sheets, etc. Also a command to just pull in a detail by starting a command and entering the identifier - it would then insert/xref the detail into the next open position on the sheet. The identifier was also included in the actual detail underneath the detail number/title/symbol in very small/light font, so you could track down that specific detail later on, or if it was used in a previous project and wanted to pull those details you'd know what/where it is. Lots of the details would also include "engineer notes" in red text (it'd be deleted before printing a final set) that would give capacities of certain elements in the detail (i.e., capacity of a double top plate splice, or the vertical capacity of a ledger connection, or shear capacity of a blocking detail, etc)

Similar process for all typical plan notes and legends.

It was a very efficient process and a LOT of effort was put into creating the system. I'd assume there were well over 1000 typical details in the library. Each detail would have been reviewed/vetted/approved by the "expert" for that material. There were huge .pdfs that would include all the details of each material so you could just give the designer the detail number and the detail would be added. The library was so big and thorough that it was rare to have to draw up custom details from scratch. We'd do big wood-on-podium apartment buildings and 90% of the detailing would already be captured by the standards. Maybe some one-off details for some silly architectural elements but those are pretty quick to button up.

Edit to add that General Notes and Special Inspections were always managed through a word .docx, exported as an image and inserted/xref'd into the .dwg or .rvt sheet. That way the engineer could modify the notes in the word doc and then just tell the drafter "reload general notes". Most engineers didn't even have autocad or revit on our computers, just viewers.

RE: Optimizing workflow

@phamENG I know that Revit is a big shift. The "trying out" thing is taking a few days, probably will need more. It'll also need training, training materials, standards, etc. I'm probably going to try it for a few projects to see if it's viable in the long term. I'm thinking of trying the non-LT version because it purports to do concrete shop drawings. I have no idea yet if that actually works, but it's advertised and might be worth it. If I'm making the models anyway, might as well get some shop drawings out of it and charge for it.

@dold I dream of that fancy LISP stuff all the time. I think it would solve lots of inefficiencies. I don't have the means to do it myself; it makes sense for an 80 person company. I'll see if there are any off-the-shelf routines or add-ons, paid or not, that could do this kind of thing. In terms of special inspection lists and general notes, the engineers do have CAD so they can do it themselves. Engineers need it anyway for placing columns. Though the price of the licenses add up, but it's a necessary evil.

RE: Optimizing workflow

Quote (milkshakelake)

The "trying out" thing is taking a few days, probably will need more.

Same here. On my free time w/ trial version. Are you using a training course or a tutorial?

RE: Optimizing workflow

@RPGs Sorry, I haven't been here for a while. I just dove into the trial without tutorials or training courses, trying a real project. Some of it is intuitive, and when it's not, I just Google the issue I'm having. There's a random clip on Youtube for pretty much any random little thing, like if you want to unpin an element or add a column size. I found that it's more like finite element analysis programs than AutoCAD.

So far, I'm not getting any value from it. It takes forever, but I can see the value in the future. Might speed things up once I get good at it.

RE: Optimizing workflow

MSL - I'm finding that, if you model it correctly, it saves a lot of rework. If I model a floor system, I can cut a section through it and most of the necessary pieces are there. You can define view settings so lineweights of cut elements will look right. Then it's a matter of dropping in some detail elements, adding notes, and it's done. Pull the view from the project browser and drop it on a sheet and everything is ready to go. I'm starting to play around with instance parameters and building custom families. For wood construction, I'm trying to get to a point where I put a family in the wall that puts a header in that will show up on plan, and when I put it in I can define jack/trimmer studs, king studs, sill size, connections, whatever, and give it a type mark. Then I can select all instances at once, apply a type mark tag to them automatically, and then create a dynamic schedule with all of that information. Haven't gotten it working yet, but I know it's possible...a little at a time. (I even found a Dynamo script that will automatically seek out all wall openings in a linked architectural model and place a structural header over them. Haven't played with that....baby steps....)

The annotation and tracking of all the little things that don't usually get drawn but are scheduled, etc. always turns into a huge time suck for me. I think it has to do with my aversion to monotony.

RE: Optimizing workflow

Quote (MSL)

@dold I dream of that fancy LISP stuff all the time. I think it would solve lots of inefficiencies. I don't have the means to do it myself; it makes sense for an 80 person company.

Now might be the time to get our good buddy ChatGPT to help you out with some LISP programming?!

RE: Optimizing workflow

@phamENG I'm not quite there yet, I'm still struggling with the basics of how to draw and move around stuff. But I'll keep that in mind when I get to that point. I do have a little wood project I can experiment with that on.

@dold The hope is that if Revit turns out to be awesome, there will be no need for LISP in my life anymore. But yeah, ChatGPT might be pretty helpful.

RE: Optimizing workflow

One lesson learned this morning - architectural changes can hurt in Revit. I imagine that if I had set my constraints a bit more intelligently, things would have been better. But as it is, a bunch of little shifts jack up a bunch of stuff in those smart sections. Yikes.

Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members! Already a Member? Login


Low-Volume Rapid Injection Molding With 3D Printed Molds
Learn methods and guidelines for using stereolithography (SLA) 3D printed molds in the injection molding process to lower costs and lead time. Discover how this hybrid manufacturing process enables on-demand mold fabrication to quickly produce small batches of thermoplastic parts. Download Now
Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM)
Examine how the principles of DfAM upend many of the long-standing rules around manufacturability - allowing engineers and designers to place a part’s function at the center of their design considerations. Download Now
Taking Control of Engineering Documents
This ebook covers tips for creating and managing workflows, security best practices and protection of intellectual property, Cloud vs. on-premise software solutions, CAD file management, compliance, and more. Download Now

Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close