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In the MEP (M&E) industry, the smooth progression of an MEP consultant’s design into well-coordinated constructible drawings and models is fundamental to the project’s success. Compared with the architectural and structural engineering disciplines, the structure of a typical MEP project team is typically more complex. It comprises an MEP consultant, an MEP contractor, trade-specific subcontractors (for mechanical, electric, plumbing and fire fighting disciplines), fabricators, and installation and maintenance specialists.

Often, the contractor is responsible for fabrication and installation; however, in larger projects, there are distinct parties commissioned for each task. Furthermore, all these key players are highly interdependent on each other right from when the building services are conceptualised to when they are detailed, fabricated and installed on site.

It is paramount that the 3D M&E (MEP) coordinated drawings/model passed on by the consultant to the MEP contractor is not only free of clashes but also allows for ease of fabrication, efficient installation, and post-completion maintenance. But this remains a challenge partly because MEP design has traditionally been a two tier system wherein the MEP consultant develops plans and schematics which are then passed on to the contractor for detailing, spatial coordination, fabrication and installation.

As a result, though the consultant’s MEP design drawings/model will show no clashes vis-à-vis the architectural and structural models/drawings, the MEP contractor will, in many cases, have to change consultant’s issue drawings to suit his requirements with respect to ease of fabrication, installation efficiency, insulation allowance, and lagging. Ducts will have to be resized. Pipework will have to be re-routed. Datum points for hangers, wall penetrations, and bolt locations will have to be added. Electrical ladders will have to be split. Equipment will have to be changed. This means the MEP design-intent will undergo a slew of changes before a detailed coordinated installation-friendly version is ready to be approved by the MEP design consultant.

In essence, the fact that the MEP contractor has to adapt consultant’s design model/drawings or in many cases redraw them not only leads to scope overlap but also negatively impacts project deadlines and schedule. The growing adoption of building information modelling (BIM) has seen a greater level of engagement from the MEP contractor in the initial design stages; however, adopting and implementing 3D BIM coordination and detailing have their own set of challenges.

Firstly, an MEP (M&E) BIM project starts with the design-intent model created by the MEP consultant. This design-intent acts as a reference model which is extended by respective parties during coordination (and detailing) phase to create a constructible model with all the details pertaining to fabrication, installation, and services maintenance. As the BIM model progresses from schematics to detailing, 3D building services coordination, fabrication, and installation phases, MEP contractors and other trade specialists contribute their respective versions to the base model.

Furthermore, the model contributed by each discipline (HVAC, electrical, mechanical, fabrication, installation) will have different levels of detail (LOD).  Since each trade reuses existing elements and extends them with information relevant to their particular area of responsibility in the project, success depends on how smoothly the BIM model is extended with minimum redrawing of the earlier version model.

At XS CAD, we understand the key nuances involved in an MEP project because we have experience of working with key participants of the MEP supply chain: MEP consultants, MEP contractors, fabrication specialists, and installers. We provide pre-construction planning support during all phases of MEP design from inception and detailing, to coordination and installation.

To find out more about how your MEP (M&E) project can benefit from our 3D building services coordination, MEP modelling and MEP CAD outsourcing services, contact us.

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