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MEP Design and MEP Installation Challenges; BIM is the Ultimate Savior

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MEP Design and Installation

In MEP industry the success or failure of MEP installations and drawings, affects the time and cost of building projects immensely. It’s the most complex structure if compared to architectural and structural.

The trades involved in MEP are much wider than other sectors. Though contractors are accountable for collecting design data to bring about fabrication and fitting, it’s not the same in larger projects. For those grander projects, different parties are commissioned for each task.

Moreover, MEP is quite close-knit, all key trades are too dependent on each from the very foundation of the project services, till they are detailed, fabricated and installed on site.

With the passing time, MEP consultants are getting more involved in creating 3D models using BIM. With this, if you expect that models and drawings passed to MEP contractors are clash free, or errorless, there might be a problem! You see the problem is that MEP has a two way approach. MEP consultants are to deliver plans and schematics, which are then passed to MEP contractors for detailing, fittings, fabrications and last but not least spatial coordination.

Mechanical and Electrical designers are honing their skills of 3D modeling and BIM, which would empower them to deliver their designs in 3D and in some cases they can also test those designs to make them clash free before handing them over to the contractor.

Though MEP design drawings or models do not display clashes in relation to architectural and structural model, MEP contractors, in some cases have to make required alterations in drawings issued by the consultants so that fabrication, installation and insulation becomes easy.

Modifying duct size, re-routing pipework, wall penetration and adding bolt locations as and when required are the kind of alterations contractors make. Also, if needed electrical ladders and containment are split and equipment’s are also changed. Needless to say that MEP design will go through swing of alterations before an actual detailed coordinated model is prepared that can be approved by MEP design consultant.

Now, this daunting process or redrawing’s or making so many alterations impacts bad on decided project deadline and schedule, leading to scope overlap. Though increasing implementation of BIM has witnessed quite an engagement for MEP contractor’s in the primary  design phase, but of course, adopting, implementing and executing projects with help of 3D BIM coordination and detailing, poses certain challenges.

MEP BIM project initiates with design-intent model that MEP consultant has created. This model is like a reference model that is stretched by corresponding parties in the course of coordination, installation phase and fabrication. MEP contractors and respective trades add their individual version to the base model. Besides this, the model submitted by each discipline i.e mechanical, fabrication, HVAC etc. will not have same level of detailing (LOD).

The prevailing elements are used again by the trades and they extend it further with required related information to the area they are dealing with in project. The success of the project is measured by the minimum revisions needed in drawings of the previous model. Undoubtedly, implementing BIM since the beginning of the project enables supply chain to make the most of the model for fabrication and spool models and drawings that will also speed up the project and lessen the delays.

Hiral Patel
About the Author: is a news editor and has been contributing to the AEC industry since last 7 years. She mainly writes about the application of BIM across Architecture, MEP and Structural sectors. Her focus is towards encouraging construction companies, sub-contractors and architects to adopt right technologies to improve efficiency and profitability.

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