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C4R workflow for Non-C4R teams

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Message 1 of 9
bosborne
526 Views, 8 Replies

C4R workflow for Non-C4R teams

I have some questions for all the C4R teams out there.  I have never used C4R and would like some clarification and explanation if possible.

 

We (our firm) is currently being asked to use C4R by the architect on a large project we are working on.  The architect is essentially using C4R to replace Revit server for sharing work between their offices.  Because getting weekly models from us (structural consultants) is a bit of a headache to constantly upload to C4R - they have asked us to join in.

 

Here's my thoughts -

1. C4R collaboration seems to be a good idea for inter-office work under the same discipline - but as a structural consultant, i don't want to be exposed to the "architectural design process" any more than need be - meaning a once a week model update is fine by me (i don't need to see the 5 ways you moved the wall back and forth over the last few days - i just want to see where it ended up once you made up your mind). 

2. To do this, we must get C4R access for any user that might work on the project.  The contract/fees on this job were already set up about a year ago - so for us to just do this - it's basically eating into profit. I want to avoid spending more money than needed, so ideally i would like to set up one C4R user account (a generic user name that anyone could simply switch their Revit ID and login info to ) for once-a-week model uploads to and downloads from C4R.  Essentially I want to work the way we always have locally (central file on our server - local files on user workstations), then Open Detached from Central on Friday, create a new central file, then log onto C4R and overwrite the model we uploaded there last week with this new model (essentially using C4R as a glorified FTP) and grab the latest Arch model to pull onto our server. 

 

So my questions:

1. Will this process i outline above work?  If not - why not?

2. Are there any options available to avoiding C4R altogether without making the architect have to basically download my model and publish it themselves to C4R just so they can link my model?  I have read that C4R users can still link Revit models locally, but for teams that are not local (the architects working on this may all be in 3-4 different offices) - that would mean linking the Structural Revit model multiple times - once for each local site, right?

 

I am not opposed to limited use of C4R if needed, but I do want to avoid pushing the whole team to it if possible.  We pay enough for Revit as is, I don't see why I should pay more for a less reliable version of Revit (i don't see any way that it can ever be as reliable as locally run Revit) that exposes me to more uncertainty (daily and hourly changes vs weekly changes) and removes some of my control (to run scripts on the Arch/MEP models before i link them in, clean up bloated models, etc).

8 REPLIES 8
Message 2 of 9
nbower
in reply to: bosborne

 


@bosborne wrote:

 

So my questions:

1. Will this process i outline above work?  If not - why not?

2. Are there any options available to avoiding C4R altogether without making the architect have to basically download my model and publish it themselves to C4R just so they can link my model?  I have read that C4R users can still link Revit models locally, but for teams that are not local (the architects working on this may all be in 3-4 different offices) - that would mean linking the Structural Revit model multiple times - once for each local site, right?

 

I am not opposed to limited use of C4R if needed, but I do want to avoid pushing the whole team to it if possible.  We pay enough for Revit as is, I don't see why I should pay more for a less reliable version of Revit (i don't see any way that it can ever be as reliable as locally run Revit) that exposes me to more uncertainty (daily and hourly changes vs weekly changes) and removes some of my control (to run scripts on the Arch/MEP models before i link them in, clean up bloated models, etc).


 

1.  You can't overwrite files on B360T that are C4R models.  So essentially there is no difference between using it like you describe and just posting the model to an ftp site (or something similar).

2.  Not really.  I think you are trying to hard to jump through hoops.

 

Your concerns are understandable and expected.  C4R is not going away and there will most likely be a job you are forced into doing it eventually.  May be a worthwhile experience if the project fits.

 

 

Message 3 of 9
bosborne
in reply to: nbower

I know I'm trying to jump through hoops - but it's all in the interest of keeping life simple and preserving as much profit as possible.  Adding in C4R is a big cost ((25% of your yearly Revit fee - and you have to get one for every user even though you may use shared network licenses) with very little to show for it (I say from the outside looking in.....sell me on why it's worth forking out the money for what is essentially Revit connected to Dropbox).   Is downloading and replacing a linked file in a folder on a weekly basis (literally a 5 minute operation) that much of a hassle that it is worth hundreds of dollars a month to avoid doing? 

 

Why can files using C4R not be overwritten?  It works just fine on local networks.  The Element GUIDs are the still the same, the file name is the same, the file location is the same.  What bit of black magic is preventing that?

Message 4 of 9
nbower
in reply to: bosborne

The cost of C4R works out to $.38 per billable hour per user based on (52) 40 hour work weeks.  $800 per person per year on an island isn't a big cost.  $800 plus what we already pay in subscription fees is not great and we really resisted when we first got on board.

 

To answer your second question, Autodesk has always touted the high trust team thing when discussing C4R.  For that reason it is currently not possible to post a C4R model to the BIM 360 Team, then overwrite it with an updated file.  You would have to post the model with an appended name.  Plus to truly post the model you would have to have a license of C4R to begin with.  On the other side of the coin you can not link non-C4R models directly from BIM 360 Team.

Message 5 of 9
bosborne
in reply to: nbower

Thanks for the your thoughts and answers.   Ultimately - this is an increased operational cost that in my mind is not going to magically erase man-hours  (Using C4R will reduce the time spent on a project by 20%!! - somehow I doubt it...), and that increase in cost either is eaten by each firm as a profit reduction or is built into slightly higher fees across the board that get passed from consultant to architect to owner.  The one thing that hasn't been answered though is "is it worth it?".  As an architect is it worth it to you if your consultant fees all get increased by a small percentage to offset C4R costs - especially considering that as you said - "there will most likely be a job you are forced into doing it eventually" - Struct and MEP consusltants don't "need" C4R - they are being forced into it because the service doesn't lend itself to partial implementation (wise business move by Autodesk...).

 

What has your experience been with chasing design changes (especially those that may still be in flux and not 100% final)?  In my mind being tied to a constantly (hourly) changing model could easily result in too much time being spent "keeping up and chasing whims" as opposed to spending a few hours once a week coordinating model changes and the rest of the week being an engineer.  

Message 6 of 9
nbower
in reply to: bosborne


@bosborne wrote:

As an architect is it worth it to you if your consultant fees all get increased by a small percentage to offset C4R costs


 

I am not an Architect.  I am also not in charge of hiring consultants.  But I would imagine that if our consultants tried to increase fees based on something that cost $800, a conversation would need to take place to find a resolution to the issue.

 


@bosborne wrote:

"there will most likely be a job you are forced into doing it eventually" - Struct and MEP consusltants don't "need" C4R - they are being forced into it because the service doesn't lend itself to partial implementation (wise business move by Autodesk...).

 


 

Perhaps your firm doesn't "need" C4R.  It is probably not prudent to lump all MEP and Structural firms into one category.  In the example I provided, we had our MEP consultant voluntarily join the C4R team.  It has been very successful due to the scope and and schedule of the project.  Has it saved them time and money?  I have no idea.  

 

And by being forced into this process I didn't necessarily even mean by an Architect.  I was thinking from an Owner, Municipality, CM, etc.  Very similar to how many people were forced into Revit many years back.

 

 


@bosborne wrote:

 

What has your experience been with chasing design changes (especially those that may still be in flux and not 100% final)?  In my mind being tied to a constantly (hourly) changing model could easily result in too much time being spent "keeping up and chasing whims" as opposed to spending a few hours once a week coordinating model changes and the rest of the week being an engineer.  


I am not actively involved with the design process day in and day out, so I can't speak too much to this.  I know that on the project I previously referenced, a discussion took place to set expectations around what I would call instant feedback.  Everyone on the team is in communication about what parts of the design are in flux vs. more set.  I have not heard many complaints about chasing design changes around.  

Message 7 of 9
bosborne
in reply to: nbower

Sorry -I should have been more clear.  I meant the increased operational cost if the team has to move to C4R, not just my get one seat for periodic uploads work-around.  It's not 800$ - its 800$ per user.  So if a project has 10 people working on it and the team is forced to use it - that's 8000$ that you did not plan on spending - that's easily a month of billings on a project wiped out.   That's a big deal.

 

I have thought about the similarities and differences to the way people were forced into Revit, but the similarity analogy breaks down for me in that - it is Revit, it is the same yearly build, just in a different place and not easily interoperable with those not using C4R Revit.  Though it is interoperable - it is not easily interoperable - and that to me is bad.  It's "here's a different more expensive software that does a lot more better" (transitioning from CAD to Revit) vs "here's essentially the exact same software just on a slightly different platform that does 98% the exact same thing - for 25% more per year" (Revit vs C4R).

 

Do people need it - sure?  Firms with multi-site offices and teams sharing work between those offices.  C4R is likely a better and cheaper solution than moving to something like Panzura.  But does a single site office need it - not at all unless they are forced into using it because of a multi-site entity higher up the food chain who does need it and requires them to participate.

Message 8 of 9
nbower
in reply to: bosborne

Sure, the whole not planned on spending thing occurs when forced upon a team without warning.  If properly planned and agreed upon (or not agreed upon) it is a much easier thing to plan for.  One other thing that you haven't brought up are ancillary costs that are sort of hidden, but need to be kept in mind if you do go down this path.  I have no empirical data to support it, but it seems that C4R project use more RAM than a standard Revit Server or typical Workshared project.  Additionally, they cram tons of local files on to your C Drive and can easily use up 40-50 GB based on how many projects you may have.  But the big thing is internet speed.  The performance recommended speed is a symmetrical 25/25 line.  That can get pricey depending on where you are located.

 

We are a multi site firm that only uses C4R for work shared directly with an outside associate.  So the benefits for what we need greatly outpace the cost.  It seems like that isn't the case for your workflow.

Message 9 of 9
109nolangene
in reply to: bosborne

As a BIM Manager for an architectural firm I deal with this ALL the time(sigh). I totally agree as to cost! In this area the owner/principle architect and I have determined that we are now being driven by owner/developers that want the collaboration site access. At first they were skeptical but now it is a requirement. As for structural I can see your point about the watching a wall move around all day. However, I can also tell you that frustration on the team side is greater because structural is only updated once a week. All of our projects are fast track or lean projects! For your scenario the one you described initially a BIM Team 360 account is all you need. Ensure that the model(s) are published prior to your downloading of the view able model and you will get the latest version anyway. The cost is $360 ver $800 annually. The downside to this because I have done/do this all the time(we now require C4R capability from all of our consultants) because we still have some that say they have it but do not(has been determined that they will not be working on future projects). Most of these cases are consultants the owner/developer insisted on and were surprised/disappointed that their choice did not step up. They download a freshly published model and upload to a specific folder the updated model. The BIM manager(me) then has to delete the C4R model and open and save/collaborate the updated model then either advise others to relink or open each of the models and relink the new C4R model. Looking at this from the Architectural side this is no different than what you did prior other than you can access download published model and upload updated model to the C4R site. The only additional thing that would be available in this scenario if you had a C4R license is you could open the model and decentralize it directly. You could not however replace the model the upload/delete/relink would still have to be done. In some cases I suggest only 1 C4R license in a generic account name that you can have individual users log in with to work on the model. This only allows 1 user at a time access to the model. This is an ongoing concern if firms do not build in the cost up front. We now ensure and require that that is the case for our consultants now.

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