This European maker of ventilation equipment seized an opportunity to boost sales by enhancing its product-selection software and enabling exports to Revit®. The custom integrated tool that AGACAD developed not only added that functionality but was so advanced it gave the company a new competitive edge in being able to respond to customers’ needs more quickly and flexibly.
Salda UAB is a dynamic European producer of air handling equipment for industrial, commercial, and residential buildings with sales in 30 countries. Based in Siauliai, Lithuania, it has a subsidiary in Vaxjo, Sweden.
Like most leading HVAC manufacturers, Salda has its own product-selection software for designers and engineers to model, analyse, and order the equipment that best fits their needs. Customers long valued the program’s ability to export product drawings for use in Autodesk AutoCAD® models.
But with the AEC industry increasingly moving to BIM, standard 3D output was no longer sufficient. Customers started asking for a way to import data and geometry for Salda’s products into their models in Autodesk Revit®.
“Given the interest among designers, we needed a link between the product-selection software and Revit – the most widely used BIM platform in Europe,” says Vytautas Astrauskas, Head of Marketing at Salda.
“Competition in the HVAC market
is intense. To sustain growth you have to innovate and satisfy clients’ evolving needs even before they fully grasp those needs,”
Management’s goal was to create a tool that could add Salda’s ventilation equipment to BIM models. And it shouldn’t cost the customer anything, unlike some competitors’ programs that require the purchase of other software.
Salda contacted AGACAD, which it knew as an international expert in BIM software development. A first meeting helped clarify the challenging task.
“To enter the Revit market, the company needed to create its own Revit family library,” recalls Jokūbas Vaišvila, an MEP specialist and BIM software engineer at AGACAD. The problem was Salda’s extremely large number of products, many of which are non-standard, customised for individual customers: air handling units and fans, heat pumps, heaters and coolers, controllers, ducts and more. “All told, thousands of Revit families were needed – truly a huge job,” Vaišvila notes.
AGACAD agreed to develop a Revit add-in that could read data from Salda’s modular air handling unit selection and modelling software, known as VentMaster V5, and use it to automatically create and import Revit families. The families would include an agreed list of properties for the imported ventilation assemblies: assembly details and section information, duct dimensions and connection coordinates, calorifier connection points, thermal, electrical and acoustical performance data, and so on.
Working closely with members of Salda’s team, AGACAD developed the new Salda VentMaster V5 Revit Add-in, which fully meets those requirements, automatically creating Revit families at the LOD300 level of detail.
The add-in also features a direct link to the parent software. So whenever changes are made in VentMaster V5, the corresponding parameters and geometry also automatically update in the Revit model.
The software created by AGACAD lets Salda’s customers work faster, smarter, and more flexibly in the design, production, and installation of ventilation systems for their BIM projects. They can focus on good design decisions since data entry and drafting work are automated.
“It’s great to be ahead of major competitors,” Salda’s Astrauskas says, noting that many HVAC manufacturers can still only export DXF files – the 3D format for AutoCAD. And even compared to those with some BIM functionality, Salda now has “a better and more convenient link to Revit – the tool is integrated and imports additional data for other parts of a project. It brings everything together, facilitating collaboration and data exchange among the various different project participants.”
Thus, the new Revit Add-in has enabled Salda to enter new, progressive markets where BIM technologies are used. It has also strengthened ties with existing customers.
“We made this investment to boost customer satisfaction, and the tool really does reduce labour costs in the design not just of ventilation systems, but of the whole building. For example, with it you can automatically transfer electrical data to a project,” Astrauskas says. “So it creates added value for our customers, which gives us a competitive edge. And the fact it’s free is a huge advantage. Many other solutions in the industry require paid extensions.”
Salda plans to distribute the VentMaster add-in on top Revit-user websites like Autodesk App Store, seek.autodesk.com and mepcontent.eu, and via other BIM channels. The company also plans further work with AGACAD to automate the creation of Revit families at a higher level of detail (LOD400).
"This project illustrates our commitment to ‘Sharing BIM Advances’,” AGACAD CEO Donatas Aksomitas notes.
“It’s about keeping clients at the cutting edge of BIM processes: to speed up projects, ensure compliance, deliver better results, and boost profitability.
And I would add that it’s a pleasure to work with Salda’s team – these are top ventilation system experts whom I can highly recommend.”