MEP Force 2021 Keynote Recap: Clay Smith

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September 1, 2021 | All, Construction, Electrical, eVolve, Fabrication

Despite shortages of people and materials, Clay Smith, COO of eVolve MEP, had some good news for MEP contractors. But first, he summarized a few pressing issues that contractors are facing in today’s market. Company owners are finding they have to manage particular risks to keep their businesses viable. Three of those risks are:

  1. Supply chain – Nearly all companies are seeing supply chain disruptions today. That has negatively affected business for 75% of them. Just over half are planning to downgrade their growth outlook or already have. Response to the pandemic has driven up costs, caused project delays and resulted in business shutdowns. The number one reason why contractors are not specifying certain products is now availability, not price.
  2. Price volatility – Construction materials prices have risen dramatically, including lumber, copper, PVC, steel, and others. Some materials suppliers are only honoring price quotes for 24 hours, others for no longer than a couple weeks, and most contractual price escalation riders are not adequate to cover these contingencies. Pressure will be exerted on materials markets by the renewable energy push, the pending federal infrastructure bill, factory shutdowns due to weather, and covid complications on mineral extraction in South America.
  3. Labor – Skilled and unskilled labor shortages may continue into the foreseeable future. The workforce is aging toward retirement, and companies may not have put plans into place yet for transferring knowledge to the next generation. It’s important to understand and mitigate this knowledge risk in your aging workforce. In addition, if you’re using multiple technology tools, a disconnect between them can result in loss of data that takes time away from productive work to rebuild.

Supply chain problems, in particular, are not always the fault of a supplier. Disorganized, disjointed and inexact purchasing methods – faxes, forms, texts, phone calls, handwritten notes – can contribute to these problems. Using a single source of truth for purchasing would go a long way toward conquering supply chain problems.

In addition, your BIM/VDC department should be at the beginning of the data flow, because they have the early information that can mitigate supply chain risk. If they could notify you weeks or months in advance that there will be a shortage of materials, you could give advance notice to vendors/suppliers and be better prepared. Bringing vendors into the loop can help you manage labor requirements and alter labor plans.

To manage these risks, Smith suggested that your company needs to use a single source of data flow and the following steps.

Step 1 = Create detailed models to feed prefabrication and kitting and sync the data.

Step 2 = Add non-modeled material (i.e. from the field) into your data platform.

Step 3 = Organize accurate and specific materials requirements by area, kit or spool.

Step 4 = Leverage all the data to plan labor, order early, streamline your fabrication department, and collect data for analytics.

To address steps 2 and 3, eVolve Materials is a cloud-based solution that provides materials management from the model stage through purchasing and delivery. It includes a single-source-of-truth bill of materials developed from the model with input from the field and helps businesses manage risks. Requisitions and real-time receiving enable you to better schedule labor.

Smith announced that the newest eVolve MEP version, 5.0, is now available. These tools help you accomplish step 1, and some of the update features include:

eVolve Mechanical:

  • Hanger improvements
  • New and improved sleeves
  • All new renumbering workflows
  • New and improved Quick Tools
  • Prefab package
  • eVolve Origin included at no extra cost

eVolve Electrical:

  • Bend optimization tools
  • New and improved content
  • Hanger improvements
  • New and improved sleeves
  • New and improved Quick Tools
  • Prefab package

In light of step 4 above, Clay Freeman, Product VP for eVolve MEP, explained the features of new eVolve data analytics tools in development now as part of the Foresite product line. Data metrics about operations will be collected in the background and analyzed regarding design, procurement, shop, and field activities. The data analysis will give business owners a foundation for making important decisions. Freeman invited individuals interested in data analytics and process automation to participate in the eVolve MEP lighthouse group: contact lighthouse@evolvemep.com .


For more information, contact eVolve MEP today and talk to an industry-trained expert to explore your options.