Your questions answered: Using electrical design software tools

Learn how to improve electrical design workflow with two software tools

By Adam Thomas August 3, 2021

Electrical engineers need technologies and software that can improve workflows when designing and building electrical systems. Several software tools are available, and best practices can be incorporated into electrical specifications.

Learn about both ETAP software from Operation Technology Inc. design and analysis capabilities for specifiers, and the LayoutFAST plugin from Schneider Electric digital design tool.

Responses are from Adam Thomas, owner and chief operating officer, ReadThomas LLC.

Question: Can you give some information about learning resources for LayoutFAST?

Thomas: At, scroll to the “learn more” section.

Question: Does it come with a metric unit? And for the single line diagram does it come with IEC standard symbols?

Thomas: All products are a soft metric conversion from Schneider. Symbols are based on customer feedback more than IEC standards.

Question: How does the one-line tool handle changes to equipment parameters or connections within the model? Is it dynamic or does it generate text and detail lines?

Thomas: Currently the tool is one directional. Meaning any update in the model will need to push down to the diagram by LayoutFAST recreating it. But we are working on Bi-Directional Functionality that will create a more dynamic hand-off.

Question: When the riser is created, where is the information for wire sizing coming from? Is voltage drop a consideration in the software or need a manual override?

Thomas: Everything comes from the electrical settings in Revit. You can modify most of the requirements from there.

Question: Cost of the LayoutFAST PRO?

Thomas: Free while is BETA. Pricing will come out later this year.

Question: Can we alter the wire legend?

Thomas: Graphically, yes, but not the fields. Those are hardwired currently.

Question: Will LayoutFAST SLD and riser modules function in systems that feature both SE and non-SE equipment?

Thomas: It certainly will, and there are more features coming to LayoutFAST PRO to aide in a mixed product/vendor usage environment.

Question: Can or will LayoutFAST address or solve for Revit’s single-line diagrammatic limitations?

Thomas: It is currently attempting to lessen the burden on diagramming in Revit by automating the most manual error prone tasks. Would love to hear more about how LayoutFAST could help solve more moving forward.

Question: To use the LayoutFAST tools, how much knowledge does the end-user need to have? It is often that drafting work is given to non-engineers and we all know that with all of these, garbage in equals garbage out. How much information is “pre-set to industry standards” so that people without technological knowledge can use the tools to at least get something into the engineers’ hands?

Thomas: LayoutFAST is very easy for a new user. Training is about an hour in total and if a user knows Revit already, LayoutFAST is a natural extension to their knowledge.

Question: Do your products work with MEP?

Thomas: LayoutFAST works directly with Revit Systems.

Question: Can you provide a demonstration or more information on the Parameter tool?

Thomas: See for more information.

Question: Does it create its own panel schedule template?

Thomas: No, you use Revit’s Panel Schedules Templates.

Question: Does LayoutFAST allow for automated setup of typical units?

Thomas: No, but you could use layoutfast and groups within Revit to accomplish something similar.

Question: Are there controls to specify which information appears on the one-lines or riser diagrams?

Thomas: Not currently, but it is being considered.

Question: Are there plans to release any open-source single line builder and riser diagram auto builder BIM tools, in the future? If not, how can we pull your data into our databases and tables?

Thomas: Not currently. You could export the tables to CSV but other than that everything stays within Revit.

Question: Can LayoutFAST one-line/riser diagram utilize custom symbology?

Thomas: Not directly. You can manually update the symbols but you lose the automation that LayoutFAST excels at.

Question: When updating, does it duplicate family (new instance) or modify the existing family for the project?

Thomas: The existing family is updated and connections/data are kept intact where possible.

Question: How is single-feed and dual-feed taken care of in one-line diagram in LayoutFAST?

Thomas: This would be based on the connections and circuiting in Revit. If you have those done correctly the diagram will report it.

Question: How easily can you modify the one-line diagram generated by LayoutFAST? Does it automatically update?

Thomas: Very easy to update but currently no auto-updating.

Question: Can we perform the fast layout features for other product or standard guidelines instead of one brand?

Thomas: Yes, the diagramming features are brand agnostic.

Author Bio: Adam Thomas, owner and chief operating officer, ReadThomas LLC.