Using Dynamo to Create a Long-term Solution
DuctSox manufactures custom-engineered commercial and industrial air dispersion products for open ceiling architecture, critical environments, and underfloor applications, and is headquartered in Dubuque, Iowa. DuctSox was using a custom piping program application built on top of AutoCAD to design their custom fabric ducting systems. In their workflow, they were drawing in 3D, then opening and flattening the drawing to export engineering data to a CSV file for production. The application exported data to validate the design while also meeting the requirements of the engineering team for air distribution.
They were looking for a replacement for their current custom application, as it was being discontinued. Their current application was also missing a few critical features, including different shapes and size drawings that needed to be added to a new solution.
The goal of DuctSox was to replace their current custom application with a long-term solution that could be easily updated and improved in the future. The solution would need to meet designers’ needs while also meeting the new technical requirements. The designers were concerned with supporting four different shaped ducts and associated hanging hardware and having a template for quick setup for straight-run segments. The technical requirements state that any added programing would need to be open-source code to provide for future updates, as well as provide a true BIM tool with both 3D modeling and robust data.
The DuctSox team provided the CADD consulting team with the calculations needed for the export and design validation in an Excel format. After reviewing the calculations, they concluded there were some restrictions with Revit as the calculations were too complex, but that Dynamo was able to provide a solution. There were initial discussions about creating an add-in, but the CADD team knew that a lot of functionality already existed in Revit and would work with a Dynamo script. This would allow them to minimize the changes in workflow and maximize as much native software as possible.
The CADD team started by calculating the number of formulas needed from the provided Excel file and determined what information users needed to input for each specific equation. They transposed the formulas from Excel to Dynamo and set each to run only when certain conditions were met. They also added error checking, keeping the script from running if some of the information was missing. While developing this, the consultant knew they needed to figure out a way to let the user know if the calculation failed and for what reason. To solve this, they added parameters to the elements in Revit to store information that let the user know if the script was a success or failure on that element. If there was a failure, it would note what is causing the failure, and highlight the cell within the schedule to provide a visual clue to users that there was a failure on the element.
After developing the Dynamo script, the CADD team completed some internal testing to ensure it worked correctly and then passed it off to the DuctSox team for additional testing. The DuctSox team then used the new Dynamo script with their typical workflows and provided feedback on additional inputs and changes to calculations.
To ensure easy adoption into the user workflows, the CADD consultant created a Revit workflow manual to provide a step-by-step guide on how to use the custom Dynamo script. In addition to the manual, the consultant facilitated a training class on information input and the Dynamo Player interface. This training showed users how to change values in the Revit model, update settings, and work with the Dynamo Player interface. By creating the Dynamo script and utilizing Revit for this workflow, CADD was able to maximize software that DuctSox already had access to, minimize changes to the user’s workflow, and create a sustainable solution that could be easily adjusted based on business needs in the future.
CADD is currently working with DuctSox on a needs analysis within Revit to determine what custom content they need, to then build a Revit template. After completing the Revit template, they will facilitate additional training, create a more robust workflow document, and implement the Dynamo script in their project workflows.
- Architecture, Engineering & Construction Collection
- Dynamo Studio
- Process Automation
- Workflow Optimization