Your questions answered: Advancing electrical design in building information modeling

Responses to questions from the webcast on Nov. 15, 2016, provided an overview of the challenges BIM creates for today’s consulting engineers and introduce a new solution that saves both time and space.

By Wendell Leisinger and Gene Candela, Schneider Electric November 18, 2016

You’ve heard it said that "time is money," but for electrical designs, "space" is equally as valuable. The webcast on Nov. 15, 2016, provided an overview of the challenges BIM creates for today’s consulting engineers and introduce a new solution that saves both time and space.

The electrical discipline historically lagged behind other disciplines in usage and efficiency of building information modeling, in part due to software such as Revit’s focus on architectural or structural engineering. This webcast will discuss advances to support electrical engineers, including the MEP Revit plug-in LayoutFAST which improves the efficiency of electrical design in Revit.

LayoutFAST is dramatically changing how electrical engineers and designers’ layout electrical equipment and move closer towards easy integration into their BIM projects. Responses to questions not addressed during the live event are below.

Question: RFA? What is it?

Answer: See Autodesk Revit dictionary for full definition. It’s a product 3-D model

Question: Do you have an RFA for an enclosed breaker housing?

Answer: No not today.

Question: This is great for Schneider Electric/Square D products. Does the LayoutFAST work with other manufacturers, like Eaton or Allen-Bradley?

Answer: No, not today but there are plans for future expansion.

Question: How is your equipment hosted?

Answer: FACE-based.

Question: Do you have busway families?

Answer: Yes.

Question: With regard to panel and switchgear schedules: What are the family parameters used for scheduling purposes (i.e. instance parameters, shared parameters, etc.)?

Answer: None of our parameters will be scheduled in your project; you’re able to map your shared parameters to the model.

Question: Obviously LayoutFAST is Schneider Electric-based. Can other manufacturers also be imported and accessed?

Answer: Not now, but in the future.

Question: How do you handle RFAs for switchboards, which are customized for each project (size, breaker layout, etc.)?

Answer: There is a simple selection process in LayoutFAST. You’re able to answer questions to customize. This is demonstrated in the on-demand version of this webcast.

Question: What do these families look like in plan view?

Answer: This is demonstrated in the on-demand version of this webcast.

Question: Is there a procedure to request a family if one is not present?

Answer: Yes, please hit the expert access button to request a new family or contact your local Schneider Electric contact.

Question: Can you change the clearance dimension dashed lines to adjust for 208 versus 480 V requirements?

Answer: Yes, you can change it, but if you change the RFA and we update it in the future, you may need to redo the RFA in the future.

Question: How does your switchgear work is it one family?

Answer: No each section is a family.

Question: Can we see a plan view of the switchboard room or the disconnect switch?

Answer: Yes this is showed in the on-demand version of this webcast.

Question: How do I install LayoutFAST in my computer??

Answer: Go to and click download; it will prompt you through instructions and ask you to enter your information.

Question: Can we manipulate the family plan view if needed to match company standards?

Answer: Yes. Only note is that if we update RFAs in future years, you may need to update.

Question: How do you actually input and calculate load using this?

Answer: Our equipment RFAs work like any other Revit RFAs.

Question: What about local availability of the products? I can design anything just to realize the product is not available in the area

Answer: We utilize the most common high volume products in LayoutFAST, which are available locally. If you want a highly unique feature, please contact us.

Question: How would the engineer maintain design control through CD and eventually as-builts?

Answer: Same was as today: We speed up the process but don’t change the fundamental process.

Question: How do you address scheduling parameters using a different shared parameters file than the design firm? For example, if I want to make a transformer schedule, will we have to manually reconfigure the parameters in LayoutFAST parameters to conform to our standard shared parameters?

Answer: You will need to map your shared parameters to our parameters.

Question: Would this plug-in work with MicroStation?

Answer: No, not yet.

Question: How do you interconnect these into a system?

Answer: Just like you normally do in Revit. Typical RFA

Question: Can parameters be added to your families?

Answer: Yes, you can map your parameters.

Question: Do the RFAs include working clearances based off NFPA 70: National Electrical Code (NEC)?

Answer: No, not yet. Default was set to allow you to user define based on your requirements.

Question: Will that tag overwrite my family info?

Answer: No it will not.

Question: Are there lighting controls definitions (sensors, dimmers, etc.) also?

Answer: No

Question: How do you get to the user-defined pull-down for clearances?

Answer: The clearances are parametric. In the family itself, there is a parameter.

Question: Are there any tags associated with this equipment that can be used for labeling in plan views?

Answer: We don’t supply tags because every company has its own standards. You can use your own tags.

Question: I see you have an easy-power plug-in, is this what is in development?

Answer: Yes it’s in development and investigation.

Question: How do I create customized electrical panel schedules (like multi-bus panel boards as per Title 24)?

Answer: Revit does not support split bus.

Question: Will your system make choices of panelboard types based on breaker sizes? For example, will it tell me if I need to go to an i-Line panel instead of a regular panelboard?

Answer: No you would have to manually select. It’s a future capability.

Question: Populate: What do you mean???

Answer: See Autodesk Revit dictionary for full definition.

Question: What are family parameters?

Answer: See Autodesk Revit dictionary for full definition

Question: How often does the designer needs to update LayoutFAST add-in for new products?

Answer: LayoutFAST users are notified when product data has been updated. Click ‘yes’ to update.

Question: Can these families be connected to Revit’s electrical load calculations? And can Revit loaded families be connected to LayoutFAST families?

Answer: Yes it’s a typical RFA. Yes they can be connected. They are typical Revit families

Question: How do I update? The LayoutFAST plug-in I have in my system doesn’t have nearly the same set of items, and has a much smaller group of items on the ribbon in Revit.

Answer: Please download the new version of LayoutFAST at

Question: Does LayoutFAST tell limitation on quantity and rating of the circuit breaker you can insert in one compartment? Can I get the actual breaker and breaker sizes into the panel?

Answer: No, not now.

Question: Any idea if the software Elecdes Design Suite will work with Revit in the future? Elecdes Design Suite creates one-line diagrams and schedules automatically.

Answer: We are not aware of that software’s future plans.