Tocci Tech: New Plug-in Improves VDC Process


woman using software on laptop and 3 monitors

Here at Tocci, we are always looking to improve our VDC processes by increasing modeling efficiency.

Recently, members of the Tocci VDC team created a plug-in we refer to as “Viper” that has already saved time (and the client money) on real-life projects.

The plugin is a set of tools in Autocad, Rhino, Grasshopper, and Revit used for translating 2D and 3D CAD lines and blocks into Revit BIM objects. The essential idea is that the information in a 2D drawing (such as a line representing a duct) is transformed by a modeler to 3D with a set of operations (such as setting a height for a duct), and these operations are often repetitive enough (such as drawing many ducts with the same base height) to combine into one step – provided one has the right tools. The right tools for this case are grasshopper functions such as ‘find all riser symbols’ to read information from the CAD, and the information which is not included in the drawings is added by the user. Once this is done, the extracted information is converted to Revit with custom API commands.

The implementation of the “Viper” automation tool for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) automation has proven to offer substantial benefits in terms of Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) process efficiency. The program was utilized on a four-story, 750,000 gross square foot, multi-family residential project. Although this project had limited MEP information during the pre-construction phase – the VDC Team at Tocci was fully responsible for authoring these systems in the Building Information Model (BIM). The digital modeling workflow process for these complex systems typically involves a great deal of tedious effort. As an alternative, the program was implemented to provide an automated process that utilized 2D MEP drawings that had already been provided to Tocci. Ultimately, the outcome was a BIM that had all MEP systems fully modeled in less than half the time of a typical workflow process. Not only did this effectively eliminate a potential bottleneck but it allowed the team to push further ahead. This resulted in the VDC Team’s ability to deliver various field supplements for the construction planning and coordination process well in advance.

In addition to the residential project, Tocci also had the opportunity to test “Viper” while modeling a prototypical hotel for a hospitality client looking to incorporate BIM into their corporate procedures. “Viper” was used to convert 2D DWG files’ mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection systems into 3D Revit files. Normally, it would take 2 modelers at least 3 weeks to convert this amount of documentation into models, but by automating the process we were able to reduce the time to complete it to just 4 days. Since the team was able to convert the drawings to models so quickly, there was additional time and budget allowed for the team to pursue additional initiatives.

Automating systems like translating 2D and 3D CAD lines and blocks into Revit BIM objects, saves the modeler time, and the client money. This money can now be used to benefit different aspects of the project.