New content partnership will enable building product manufacturers (BPMs) to connect with a broader audience of AECs and provide designers with content that meets their regional standards.
LAS VEGAS and NEWSCASTLE UPON TYNE – November 13, 2017 – Continuing its commitment to increasing the availability of tested manufacturer BIM content for Architects, Engineers, Contractors and Building Owners, UNIFI Labs, Inc. is pleased to announce a new strategic partnership with The Space Group’s bimstore, the original UK BIM library.
With its data-driven cloud platform, UNIFI Labs provides the building industry with a single source of truth for creating, accessing and managing digital building content. The UNIFI Connect platform’s digital content store enables Building Product Manufacturers to deliver current and reliable design assets and product data to AECs for seamless use within their existing design workflows.
Leading design professionals and AEC firms who leverage the digital content and associated data available in bimstore’s and UNIFI Connect’s building product libraries will benefit from access to a combined database of high quality manufacturer digital content built to specific regional standards. The resulting library will enable architects, engineers and contractors to accelerate the design lifecycle of their projects by accessing content with up-to-date data that can be inserted directly into models.
“There are many synergies between UNIFI Labs and bimstore.” said Rob Charlton, CEO of bimstore, “By working together we can provide our specifiers with access to a wider range of content while giving our manufacturers access to wider markets.”
“Partnering with the bimstore team enables tested design assets to be shared on one another’s platforms, reducing the risk of specifiers using outdated product data,” said Mark Eslinger, CTO of UNIFI Labs. “The bimstore team has done a tremendous job of building and supplying quality BIM content to the UK & EU regions, and UNIFI’s global customer base will find tremendous value in having ready access to that content directly within the UNIFI platform. Access to quality design content is critical to advancing AEC organizations’ BIM advancement, and this partnership greatly increases the reach of our respective content libraries.”
The partnership will go live in Q1 2018 and reinforces UNIFI Labs’ ongoing commitment to building a Connected BIM ecosystem within the building industry through collaboration with likeminded partners, like bimstore, who are focused on increasing the efficiency and profitability of the building industry.
The Space Group’s bimstore are recognized as the premium provider and distributer of BIM content for specifiers. Launched in 2010 bimstore was one of the original content libraries and has since built a loyal community of both specifiers and manufacturers. As designers and technicians, bimstores’ success is built upon the quality of content and an understanding of the needs of specifiers. The continued development of the platform focusses on improving user experience and efficiency.
About UNIFI Labs
UNIFI provides a cloud-based, data-driven platform that is the single source of truth for your digital content. The UNIFI content management platform is the most comprehensive suite of content and data management tools to streamline your design process. Easily store, access, and share your digital content across teams and offices – anywhere, anytime, securely and in real-time. Learn why leading architectural, engineering, construction and manufacturing organizations trust UNIFI as the complete solution for their building content management needs at www.unifilabs.com or contact us at 702.527.6460.
Furthering its dedication to further expanding UNIFI’s value within the connected BIM ecosystem, UNIFI is now distributing the ENGworks’ BIMX Revit content and the Enhanced Dynamix Fabrication content databases and services through UNIFI Connect, the industry’s leading product manufacturer content hosting platform integrated directly into the building design lifecycle.
Continuing the transfer of BIMXchange’s valuable design content to the UNIFI platform, UNIFI Connect users will now have the ability to subscribe to over 60 new Content Channels available in the UNIFI Subscriptions center. All existing UNIFI customers may subscribe to the sample libraries today!
The BIMX ‘Content Finder’ and ‘Pipe Fitting Finder’ channels offer high quality Autodesk Revit families intended for specifying engineers during the design phases of a project. These channels provide over 3800 product families of manufacturer-based products and parts including, all MEP connectors and relevant specification parameters for proper functionality within mechanical systems in Revit.
“We are very excited to continue to bring high quality BIM content to the UNIFI platform,” said Steve Germano, Director of Strategy at UNIFI. “One of the largest challenges facing MEP engineers and contractors is access to content that is ”plug and play” ready to use in their building designs. Creating complex MEP content can be extremely time consuming and costly, and UNIFI’s readily accessible content channels from ENGworks provide our customers with even more content to leverage in their projects, increasing efficiencies of their design and engineering teams.”
The Enhanced Dynamix channels offer a variety of Fabrication CADmep content (Piping, Electrical & HVAC) that have been created based on over 300 different manufacturers catalogs and schemas. Numerous services and templates are available that can be used for almost every project in the AEC industry.
The Enhanced Dynamix service files (IEZ’s) include Fittings, Equipment, Supports and more. This Fabrication content can be utilized in the Autodesk Fabrication software, as well as the Autodesk Revit software, providing access to over 10,000 Autodesk Revit families and over 80,000 content types that will make your design process more productive and creative.
“We are excited to partner with the UNIFI team and provide the BIMX & Enhanced Dynamix content to UNIFI’s global network of engineers and contractors,” said Ian McGaw, VP of Technology & Innovation at ENGworks. “We are excited to expand the availability of this content and continue to offer the AEC industry powerful MEP content that matches real engineer and contractor workflows.”
The BIMX & Enhanced Dynamics Channels are available at an additional cost to UNIFI Labs customers through an annual subscription fee. Contact email@example.com for purchasing information.
About UNIFI Labs
UNIFI is the most comprehensive, single-source cloud platform to create, access and manage digital building content and data. The UNIFI content management platform ensures data consistency and anywhere access to digital design content that is directly integrated into leading design system workflows. Learn why leading architectural, engineering, construction and manufacturing organizations trust UNIFI as the complete solution for their building content management needs at www.unifilabs.com or contact us at 702.527.6460.
For almost three decades, ENGworks has continuously developed new processes, tools and services for Architects, Engineers, Contractors, Trade Contractors, Construction Managers, Manufacturers, as well as Owners and Operators. Today, ENGworks is an internationally recognized Building Information Modeling (BIM) service and solutions provider.
Our Goal is to help our clients design and build better projects by saving construction costs and time through implementing the full potential of BIM; we have taken cutting edge technology, sharpened it, and then applied it to everything we know about BIM technology and the AECO Industry.
For more information on ENGworks, and the products and services they offer, please visit: http://www.ENGworks.com/
We’re looking forward to spending time with European Digital Design Leaders at BCS Europe and BILT Europe in Aarhus, Denmark next week. Ahead of her workshop at BCS, our Design Technologist Megan Green has provided a preview of what she’ll be covering…
For years, digital design leaders in the building industry have been searching for solutions to a common problem: how do we bring manufacturer content into projects and have it seamlessly work with our company standards? Currently, each manufacturer provides their own set of content with their own unique parameters. When a designer downloads that content and tries to place it in their project, the product data is contained within the family… but will not appear in critical places like schedules and tags since the parameters don’t match that company’s standards.
This challenge has caused many companies to ban their design teams from using manufacturer content. Although some companies will take the time to insert their own parameters into the manufacturer content, that process is both time consuming and tedious and can lead to backlogs of manufacturer content waiting to be approved for use. While there are add-ins available that can assist, using them to update manufacturer content still results in additional steps that must be taken each time the product specification changes and for each new project started, especially if the project requires unique standards.
Many designers wonder why manufacturers don’t provide content that just automatically works in any environment. Well, to do that successfully, they would need to know every design firm’s standards. Additionally, these standards are constantly evolving and frequently change, as do the manufacturer’s products themselves. Keeping up with this manually would be a costly nightmare, if not outright impossible. But what if this process was automated?
At UNIFI Labs, we believe content should automatically work the instant it’s placed into a project and we’ve been working closely with Grundfos to make the seemingly impossible a reality. We’re able to add and remove parameters in a batch process and making it easy to swap one set of parameters for another, even shared parameters. Our platform can take an entire product line of families and instantly transform each of those families to be compliant with any regional or company standards.
What does this mean for the future of global data? Manufacturers will be able to maintain one set of content that is kept up to date in real time and usable by anyone. AEC firms will be able to specify their unique standards in one place and have all manufacturer content they’re interested in using automatically transformed as it’s inserted into the project. Not only that, but the manufacturer content will be automatically revisioned every time an update is made to the product, so you can easily see which version of that product is placed in the model and if a newer version is available.
If you’re excited about this new paradigm and would like to discuss it further, please join me for the round table session at BCS Europe in a just a couple weeks. I look forward to seeing you there!
This post was originally published on the RTC News site here: http://www.rtcevents.com/blog/?p=8295.
Grimshaw is a global architecture firm with offices around the world, employing over 500 people. The practice covers architecture, planning and industrial design across all major sectors. Grimshaw was a pioneer in high-tech architecture, but had come to rely on low-tech solutions for content management, which created issues with consistency and the capture of content.
Holger de Groot, Office BIM Manager for Grimshaw’s Sydney studio, had seen the problem before when he was a Regional BIM Director at another firm. He saw firsthand how an outdated content management solution could slow down designers, create content inconsistencies and make it extremely difficult to conduct simple searches. When he joined Grimshaw, he found a different approach to content management, but with similar outcomes. Grimshaw mirrored its content libraries by replicating the server for its four main offices – Sydney, Melbourne, London and New York. This led to “content being stored in multiple locations without controls so that different sub-structures were created,” says de Groot.
Grimshaw’s content management strategy needed to change. A clear choice emerged, “UNIFI was the one true source of content that could be accessed from anywhere around the world with the most advanced features including its search functionality,” says Holger. In December 2016, Grimshaw started a UNIFI pilot in its Sydney and Melbourne offices for a single project in each office. All content on the server was uploaded into UNIFI, so that Grimshaw could easily change names, create tags and clean up its content. During this exercise, several instances of duplicate content were found using different container files.
The pilot was so successful in Sydney that Grimshaw decided to move “full steam ahead” with UNIFI for all the projects in the office. Along with enjoying cloud based access to a single source of content and no longer having to manually update libraries, Grimshaw could easily access manufacturing content via UNIFI Connect. “It’s a real plus to have access to content that gets directly integrated into our libraries,” says Holger of UNIFI Connect.
Some of the most interesting aspects of the Grimshaw’s content transformation were documented in a “before and after” survey circulated to the Sydney office in August 2016 (prior to UNIFI’s implementation), and in May 2017, (after UNIFI had been in use for three plus months).
- Content Quality Perception: Prior to the UNIFI pilot, content was ranked as average or “low quality” by 65% of respondents. Yet, when the same designers were asked about the quality of content in May 2017, it was “highly rated” by over 60% of the respondents, with some calling it “advanced”. The content was the same! What changed was the “quality perception” due to its presentation and content, its ease of access, including search and previews.
- Search Time Savings: The survey also highlighted significant time savings by using UNIFI. Once UNIFI was deployed, designers took half the time to find more content – translating into 3 hours “saved” each week, 120 hours annually, per designer! BIM Admins saved a lot of time as well, since they didn’t have to focus on updating content.
UNIFI offers several other benefits. In the past, content requests would have to be emailed along with CAD attachments or paper printouts, then they would be shared with various project teams for reviews and approvals, an unnecessarily labor-intensive process. Now, all content requests are reviewed, tracked, tagged and managed through UNIFI, which limits the inclusion of rogue content and streamlines the content creation & approval process.
With UNIFI’s recent release of multi-format support, any file format can be stored and searched on UNIFI. In addition to a large Revit practice, Grimshaw has many designers who use Rhino and now they can store, access, and insert the information they need from UNIFI into their models.
UNIFI has been receiving rave reviews within Grimshaw’s Sydney office which is now 100% on UNIFI. Office BIM Managers in the Practice’s other offices are now working on a global UNIFI rollout to achieve similar results. We’ll end this case study by using the words of one survey respondent, which was echoed by many: “I like that we got one true source now, allowing me to find the content I need quickly and easy.”
We are thrilled to announce the addition of Megan Green to the UNIFI Labs team. Megan joins us as a Design Technologist and brings a unique blend of industry expertise and product knowledge. Megan has already hit the ground running, working with prospective and current customers to help them achieve the maximum value from the UNIFI platform as well as their investment in digital content.
Prior to joining UNIFI, Megan led BIM Strategy for JBA Consulting Engineers, where she launched the company’s international design technology standards, developed training programs and implemented UNIFI along with a host of other design technologies. Megan earned her degree in Electrical Engineering, with a minor in Mathematics, at Virginia Tech.
In Megan’s abundant spare time, she is a member of the Design Technology Summit (DTS) Committee, where she works with professionals across the design industry who are responsible for managing and implementing design technology. She is an avid Disney fan who frequents the parks on a regular basis while helping friends and family plan trips, too. This travel planning benefit may get extended to UNIFI customers who are lucky enough to work with Megan 😊.
Welcome on board, Megan!
Hello everyone and welcome to the first post from our new blog series – “From the Labs”. These posts are focused on new features and products that are currently in development at UNIFI, which we hope will provide our customers and the broader BIM community with a glimpse into some of the innovative ideas on our roadmap. I get to be the first person here in the office to write a post for the blog, so that’s pretty exciting. We hope anyone who is passionate about advancing BIM will find this content useful, but warning….we may geek out a bit, so put your technical hat on and bear with us.
In this first post, I want to share a recent use case we have started working on, which was inspired from a customer who wanted a way to tie their internal costing systems to their content in order to streamline some of their estimating efforts. That need led to a project we’ve been internally referring to as “Angara”, an external API for accessing the UNIFI platform. The API will let users manage their content programmatically, enabling actions like creating and updating parameters across multiple design formats, as well as selectively enabling access to content based on real world events, like material prices and product availability changes.
One aspect of implementing this API required a way to search Revit parameters in the many files they store and manage in UNIFI, a data lake we’ve nicknamed Baikal. (Thus the name Angara after the river that flows from Lake Baikal in Russia). The final piece of this puzzle comes from work we began working on months ago, which lays the foundation for generating content dynamically from code. Put together, this whole stack of features will hopefully bring some much needed automation to what is otherwise a very tedious job, as I’m sure anyone reading this who has been responsible for finding updating Revit parameters one by one knows! While the API is still currently under development, our team is really looking forward to seeing what you all build on top of the API, there’s bound to be some pretty cool stuff to come out of all this.
The video below shows a few simple curl requests to the API. I start by searching OOTB content from Autodesk, then by using the usual filters like tags and categories that you would look for in UNIFI normally. And then, finally I’ve got a parameter search. This is all we have available for users at the moment, so reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in testing out the API before we release it more widely. Up next is getting transformations hooked into the API!
Until next time,
Michael Kilkelly, author of ArchSmarter blog, reviewed the UNIFI Content Management solution. He liked the solution so much he is now going to purchase it! We’ve posted the article below and the link to his site can be viewed here.
“Hey Michael, got a second?” I hear from across the office.
“Remember that window family you created?” Steve asks me. “You know, the one with all the depth parameters.”
I had made a bunch of window families over the past few months. I wracked my brain to try to remember which one he was looking for.
“You mean the one I made for the Crosstown project?” I reply. “It had a bunch of depth parameters.”
“No, the other one. I think it was after Crosstown. It had different transom types.”
“Oh, I know which one you mean. I’ll go find it.”
I dig through the office family folders looking for the .rfa file. I think I find the right one so I email it over to Steve.
“Nope, that’s not it.” he calls out. “The one I need has a transom type.”
“Hmm. . . ” I say as I try to remember the family he’s thinking of.
I spend another ten minutes digging around. I don’t see anything similar in the office library so I start looking in project folders.
“Did it have an arch top option?” I ask him.
“Maybe”, he replies.
Thirty minutes later, I find the family he’s looking for. Turns out, it was in the wrong project folder and was never added to the office library. Also, I hadn’t created it. Our colleague Lisa did. So much for Steve’s memory.
“What was I working on?” I ask myself as I get back to work, almost an hour later. Nothing like a “quick question” to set you off your game.
Managing Your Revit Content
It takes a lot of time to create Revit families. A “simple” family can take hours to create – from building the model, to adding some formulas, to testing the parameters. The benefit is that you can reuse that family in future projects. An hour spent today could save you five to ten hours over the course of the year.
But what if you can’t find those families after you create them? All that time you hoped to save is spent looking for the file. Or worse, you have to recreate it from scratch.
Building Revit content is an investment. Relying on fallible memory and a rickety folder structure isn’t the most efficient way to keep track of your valuable assets, is it?
What if you could find the exact family you’re looking for in seconds? What if you could preview it before you load it into your project file? Better yet, what if you could do this with ALL your digital files, including DWGs, images, documents, and spreadsheets?
It turns out you can, with UNIFI.
What is UNIFI?
UNIFI is a cloud-based content management system. It organizes and provides access to your digital files. It’s like a search engine for your files – but better.
UNIFI saves your content to the Amazon cloud infrastructure. Since it’s in the cloud, you can access your content from anywhere – your office (or offices), your job site, or even from home. Unlike cloud-based storage services, like Dropbox and Google Drive, UNIFI indexes and categorizes your files on upload, making them easier to find and manage.
Access is not limited to people inside your firm. Outside consultants can get access to your UNIFI library as well. In addition, high-quality manufacturer content is also available through UNIFI Connect. No need to build your own content when you can download it straight from the source.
How Does It Work?
The first step to organizing your content on UNIFI is to upload your files to UNIFI’s cloud server. You can do this using their desktop app or Revit add-in. Individual files, whole folders, or even all the contents from your Revit project file can be uploaded. UNIFI reads the files and extracts the important metadata, such as author, date created, and file size.
Users can add tags to uploaded files. This is where the power of UNIFI really shines. All the Revit families from a project, for example, can get tagged with the project name. If you’re looking for a family from that project, you can search by family type and project name. Uploaded files can have any number of tags. Tags are also user-defined, giving you a lot of flexibility in their application.
Once uploaded, users can access the files in Revit through the UNIFI add-in. The interface provides access to all the various libraries, as well as manufacturer provided content.
Users can give content a rating (1 to 5 stars) as well as “favorite” content they use frequently. You can even filter your searches to only look for content you’ve marked as a favorite.
Searches can also be saved. Say you’re inserting light fixtures in a large project. Rather than recreate the search each time, you can save your search parameters and re-run the search from the UNIFI interface.
Once you’ve found the family you want, inserting it into your project is very easy. Click the item you want to insert from the UNIFI interface. UNIFI will download the .rfa file and activate the “Place Component” tool.
What’s even better, UNIFI recognizes the version of Revit you’re using. When you insert content, it downloads the correct version every time, regardless of the version that was uploaded. No more wasting time upgrading files!
It’s All About the Content
Sure, managing Revit component families is a great feature but what about all the other Revit stuff? Good news! UNIFI works with Revit system families as well.
Do you currently save your system families in a container file? This approach, while standard practice, can be problematic. You need to open each container file to see what system families are available. Container files also need to be upgraded for each new release of Revit. There’s a lot of work involved in keeping them current and up-to-date.
Fortunately, UNIFI makes container files a thing of the past. All your floor, roof, and wall types can be stored and retrieved from UNIFI. Likewise, drafting views and schedules can also be saved to your UNIFI library.
What’s more, you’re not just limited to the content in your firm’s library. Through UNIFI Connect, users can subscribe to manufacturer “channels” and download the manufacturer’s content directly from UNIFI. No need to go to their website or search online catalogs. Plus, all the content on Connect has been vetted through UNIFI’s stringent QA/QC process. Participating manufacturers include Miele, Legrand, and Lotus, among others.
And UNIFI is not only for your Revit content. New this month is multi file format support. UNIFI can manage your AutoCAD, ArchiCAD, and SketchUp files, as well as images, documents, and spreadsheets.
Remember the time when you tweaked that awesome parametric heat pump family and forgot to save a new copy? Then when someone asked for the original you had to undo all your changes? Ugh, what a waste of time.
That won’t happen with UNIFI. Every change to your uploaded content gets saved as a revision. You can roll back your changes at any point. Now that’s powerful!
Sounds great, right? So, what’s this going to cost? UNIFI recently updated their pricing structure to make it affordable for small and large firms alike.
First off, you can get a free trial for one month for up to five users. After you check it out and find you can’t live without it, UNIFI costs $14 USD per month per user for up to 30 users. For firms with over 30 users, enterprise pricing is available.
For a firm with 10 Revit users, a subscription to UNIFI will cost $140 per month. I’m willing to bet those 10 users will save more than a few hours using UNIFI. If their hourly rate is $100 an hour, it will have paid for itself twice over. And that’s just one month. Over the course of a year, think how much time you’ll save having all your content right at your fingertips?
Get Started with UNIFI Today
As architects and designers, we’re skilled at creating beautiful and useful content. It’s a big part of who we are and what we do. But we’re not always so skilled at organizing that content for later use. Often times we just recreate it because it’s easier than finding a needle in a haystack of project folders. What a waste of time.
Don’t reinvent the wheel time and again because you can’t find a file. Instead, treat your content like the time-saving resource it is. UNIFI is the perfect tool for maximizing the value of your content. It makes managing your files easy and effective.Want to experience the power of UNIFI for yourself? Click here to sign up for a free trial. You can use UNIFI for 30 days with up to 5 users. Start saving time today!
Want to experience the power of UNIFI for yourself? Click here to sign up for a free trial. You can use UNIFI for 30 days with up to 5 users. Start saving time today!
Note: UNIFI sponsored this post and paid ArchSmarter a fee for reviewing their software.
What our customers are saying:
UNIFI allows us to work smarter.
It’s been a perfect partnership, resulting in a tool that is everything we expected it to be.
Not only is this a great content library manager, it is shaping up to be a fantastic BIM analytics engine.
Security is a major concern for us, as we are involved in several government projects. UNIFI worked with us to provide the level of assurance we needed.
If you’re still using a server, you’re not BIM savvy.
Our relationship with UNIFI is key to ensuring we stay at the forefront of innovation as it relates to design technology and providing the right design tools to specifiers.
UNIFI works seamlessly with Revit and we’ve seen a 10x productivity increase due to workflow efficiencies.
We now have a central, sterile source of information, with no leakage of content.
Before it could take three minutes to search for an item. Now it takes five seconds.
Folder structures proved to be inherently inefficient for accessing family files. UNIFI allows our project teams to quickly and easily search and manage Revit families, which will significantly improve our productivity.