A Rose by any other Number would smell as sweet… Sorry Shakespeare, this is a Software Blog. Whether we are talking about Ductwork, Piping, or Walls, Doors and Windows, the “Item Number” is arguably one of the most important bits of information we can find in a Model. It’s how we identify, quantify, locate and look up information about any given “thing” in a BIM.

No matter which Fabrication Part Numbering Tool we use, our Items are being sorted, whether we like it or not. In all cases (excluding VM AddIns), our Items are sorted arbitrarily, depending on where they happen to land in our Selection Set. Not only is this order meaningless, it’s counterproductive! In fact many of us are spending a lot of time and effort partially correcting this by using a Numbering Tool multiple times – on different selections – filtered by specific criteria. If we’re going to set up a Henry Ford style assembly line for Pipe Spools, Ductwork and Hangers, our Item Numbers, Schedules, and MAJ files need to be sorted in a meaningful, efficient way.

Please consider the following example:

Above we have a Fabrication Duct Schedule created in Revit using VM AutoParameters and sorted by VM Item Number. When we specify a Sorting Priority for our Item Numbers, our Schedules, Spools, and MAJ files become streamlined, intuitive, efficient and lean. In the above Schedule, all of our our 22 Gauge Unlined Coil Joints are scheduled first, followed by our 22 Gauge Unlined Machine Cut Joints. Moving further down the list we have our Lined 22 Gauge in the same order, followed by 24 and 26 Gauge. With VM AddIns we have full control over how our Items are Numbered.

I can hear some of you saying, “But Steven, we don’t need our Item Numbers to be sorted”. Unless we’re numbering manually they already are, in a meaningless way. It’s a side effect of comparing random selected parts for equality. We may as well make it meaningful, especially since it’s Automatic.

Above we have a Chilled Water Pipe Schedule for Level 1, Straights first, Fittings second, sorted by Size and Length. When these Items are broken up into Spool Sheets (AKA Assemblies in Revit), our Item Number Tags and Bill of Materials are likewise sorted in the same meaningful way, with zero additional effort.

When we select Rows or Columns in our Revit Schedules, the individual Items that make up those Rows and Columns are also selected. This means we can use the VM Item Properties Palette to review and modify these Parts, line item by line item. We can even renumber the parts right here is this View, adjusting sort priority until we get exactly what were looking for.

As always, I’d be happy to hear your thoughts and opinions! Leave a comment below and give us your feedback.

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