MEP to the Front 1

MEP to the Front, Pt. 2: MEP in Project Planning – Does it Matter?

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As considered in the Applied Software blog article, “Mine All Mine: Can AEC Teams Play Nice?” the collaborative process can deliver profitable projects to satisfied owners ahead of schedule. This reality is driving more and more firms toward involving all project teams from the early stages of a collaborative design-build process. But the fact that the construction industry has been steadily moving ahead with the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality makes you wonder. “Does collaboration really matter?”

In the BartonAssociates blog article, “Integrating MEP into the Concept Design Process,” Jon Slagel explains why his firm integrates the MEP design team early in the project development process. The MEP design team can help define space requirements for airflow, electrical and plumbing components. Jonathon Broughton, in his article, “How does MEP BIM help the construction process?” calls spatial coordination the “number one biggest win of a shift to BIM” (building information modeling). MEP team members can also suggest particular strategies and equipment to meet the specific needs of a space. In Slagel’s situation, it happens to be medical facilities, which have strict regulatory guidelines that must be met. But the same concept is true for any project. The people who will use the facility have needs that must be adequately addressed by the MEP components of the building. There are also building codes that need to be adhered to. No one knows the nitty gritty MEP portion of the current international, regional and local codes better than workers in the MEP trades.

Realizing that the AEC industry needs a foundation of knowledge that’s built, tested, compiled, and shared, it seems to be more than a little important that that foundation be consulted upon and developed by all of the teams involved. The challenge here, as Broughton points out, is that during the BIM process, input is requested from all parties. But they may not see where that input benefits them directly. Gleaning those benefits – compressed schedule, cost savings, fewer clashes, safety – might not come until completion of the project. Because of that delayed gratification, collaborators may have issues with justifying the ‘extra’ work needed when they don’t get extra compensation for it. They may be operating from a “mine, all mine” frame of reference.

The 2019 article, “MEP – Mechanical Electrical Plumbing In Construction Projects,” explains that MEP installations are addressed together because of the high degree of interaction among them. As a result,  even the most basic designs result in interactions that can be complex, and conflicts in equipment locations are common when the individual systems are designed in isolation.

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The good thing is, many and nearly all of the conflicts on a project can be worked through collaboratively by all of the project teams, including the MEP trades, early in the project development process using BIM. In this way, collaboration certainly does matter. Further, it makes clear that the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality of the construction industry is likely holding back firms that insist on continuing in yesteryear’s construction business model.

In the coming weeks, the Applied Software blog will continue to look at ways MEP collaborators can get involved early in the design-build process and help change the face of modern-day construction. If you’re ready to participate in the dialog, or if you have your own collaborative story to tell, reach out to Applied Software today to be part of the discussion. 

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