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Making MEP (M&E) Projects Profitable

in Business / Construction by Kuldeep Bwail on 12/14/2017

In the world of MEP(M&E) projects, negotiating varied and unexpected challenges has almost become expected. These unexpected twists and turns can potentially affect profits. However, certain aspects of the MEP business process can be regulated to produce greater profitability. One such aspect is selecting the right MEP design service, with a viable option being MEP BIM coordination services or VDC (Virtual Design Coordination). From creating coordinated shop drawings to estimating solutions in the MEP installation sequence, comprehensive software packages can improve speed and accuracy, minimising costly mistakes and maximising profits. Interestingly, MEP projects can become even more profitable with the support of design outsourcing, especially qualified, experienced and well-trained MEP consultants from India.

Using pre-built, comprehensive databases can assist in deciding materials, labour and equipment required for any job.  
A combination of better planning/design with the use of BIM for virtual construction, together with the means to lower expenditure for design and drafting through outsourcing, can contribute to making MEP projects more profitable. Another way to control costs and increase profits is to invest in relevant technology for MEP design. To understand which software is relevant for MEP design services, here‘s a look at the different services involved in each discipline and some of the preferred software:

MEP Design Services & Software Options

Mechanical Design:

1. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)
2. Water supply/return distribution
3. Energy related – gas, oil, renewable and solar systems
4. Air conditioning load analysis

AutoCAD MEP software helps draft, design and document building systems and mechanical designs. Revit software creates detailed models across MEP disciplines. It enables the design of models for MEP fabrication and the coordination of fabrication and installation. Trimble PipeDesigner 3D is a detailing software for mechanical, piping and plumbing contractors. Trimble DuctDesigner 3D is a CAD software for sheet metal and HVAC contractors who want to detail duct quickly in an easy interface.

Electrical Design:

1. High voltage & low voltage electrical power distribution systems, generator & UPS systems
2. Lighting
3. IT, telecoms, security and lightning protection
4. Fire detection and activation alarm system
5. Riser and panel schedule
6. Lux level calculation and lighting

Autodesk‘s AutoCAD Electrical software offers electrical CAD features, a symbols library and dedicated tools for automating electrical design. Autodesk Inventor 3D CAD software facilitates the integration of electrical designs into a digital model, so that data can be shared and designs can be integrated. MagiCAD Electrical for Revit also presents as a viable option. It has an efficient localised wire routing tool, tools for creating and editing switchboard schematics and a tool for assigning and controlling 2D symbols in coordination with 3D models.

Plumbing or Hydraulic (Public Health) Design:

1. Domestic water supply
2. Sanitation and waste water
3. Storm water drainage and rainwater harvesting

Design Master Plumbing is a plumbing and piping drafting and calculation software, that works in AutoCAD. Features include:

Intelligent Pipes - Each pipe section is linked to a database with all relevant information about that pipe and makes edits easily.

Automatic Pipe Sizing - Sizes are automatically assigned to pipes based on the flow. Each system is sized differently based on the type of pipe. Flow diversity is taken into account to determine the size of the pipe.

Isometric Diagrams - An isometric diagram can be created from the plan view pipe layout. Line breaks, p-traps, and other elements are drawn automatically.

Customisable Graphics - Pipeline types, layer names and colours, text fonts, pipe labels and other pipe graphics can be customised.

Fire Protection Design:

1. Sprinkler protection
2. Water and mist system
3. Dry riser and wet riser

Fire Sprinklers enable the design of high-quality fire sprinkler protection systems in Revit. It helps distribute sprinkler heads instantly throughout a linked Revit model with a specified clash tolerance function. The MEP Hangers feature allows instant large-scale insertion of hangers and supports the assembly of sprinkler system pipes. Cut Opening creates openings with fire safety components, where sprinkler system pipes intersect with walls, floors, roofs, ceilings, beams and columns.

After identification and investment in the right software, the next step would be to understand why BIM and MEP coordination are critical to profitability.

Quality standards in construction have improved dramatically over time and the focus is on reducing expenses and increasing profits by reducing or eliminating ‘waste‘ and ‘duplication‘. Traditionally, contractors hire sub-contractors to prepare shop drawings independently and then are faced with clashes on the site, necessitating on-site rework, changes and corrections. The emergence of BIM (building information modelling) for MEP coordination minimises the occurrence of such on-site clashes. BIM is an intelligent 3D model-based process that gives MEP professionals the tools to generate and manage digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of the engineering model.

Building information models are files that can be extracted, exchanged or networked to support decision-making regarding a building or other structural asset. MEP coordination is the coordination process for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems on structures, with improved project performance through increased integration. MEP coordination identifies construction clashes, interferences and conflicts amongst the disciplines and effectively resolves them. Contractors then receive a clash-free set of final drawings, or Projected As-Built Drawings (PABD). At regular intervals, the different contractors involved can update models and drawings.

Why outsourcing MEP design services increases profits:
When it comes to managing MEP design for complex and large-scale construction projects, not every construction firm has skilled design and engineering professionals to oversee and execute project processes from start to finish. MEP design projects require a team of experts who have good MEP engineering knowledge and can design the system well, prepare drafts, create 3D models such that there are no clashes. Effective project execution largely depends on the experience and expertise of the team, who must have access to the best technology and tools for MEP design.

Investing in tools and technology may prove to be financially prohibitive for some firms. Finding suitable design and engineering experts in MEP design services and BIM technology and retaining them for long-term projects is difficult. Most firms have neither the time nor the inclination to spend the effort and resources to recruit, train and retain qualified personnel. Additionally, a continuing shortage of skilled and experienced design engineers in Western markets can contribute to inevitable project delays and higher costs.

In such circumstances, outsourcing to India becomes an appealing and sensible alternative. Importantly, outsourced organisations possess good infrastructure and well-qualified staff to handle all business requirements of MEP design and MEP modelling. Not just economical, outsourcing has huge potential to deliver great business benefits in quality and meeting deadlines, which contribute to better business practice and, eventually, to greater profitability.

Outsourced CAD human resources, such as MEP designers, modellers and coordinators in India, possess the knowhow, training and qualifications, especially in Autodesk‘s AutoCAD, Revit, Revit MEP and Navisworks, to provide economical, design services, high-quality MEP coordination drawings and 3D modelling support for each of the phases of mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) design. They can provide layout design and detailed shop drawings for mechanical, HVAC, ductwork, electrical, plumbing and piping systems at a fraction of the cost compared to local suppliers.

Outsourcing services offer MEP drawings related to access control, lighting, informational networks, security systems, power systems, HVAC systems, plumbing layouts and overall cable management. The services can detail the entire MEP design process.

Benefits of Outsourcing MEP Design to India:

• Qualified MEP engineers, using AutoCAD MEP or other relevant software tools, can design the BIM component of projects on time. They can design the system using structural and architectural drawings, prepare drafts, create 3D models and make design alterations so that the entire MEP system fits into the larger building environment. These experts can easily be found in India, an established source of qualified human resources. Thus, training and retaining qualified personnel is passed on to the outsourcing company in India. The construction companies can then concentrate on multiple projects.

• Outsourcing MEP design means that the best tools for MEP design will be used without actually investing in them. Indian outsourcing companies have bountiful experience and expertise, the latest software, CAD technologies and resources.

• Outsourcing to India does not compromise on the contractors‘ involvement. By sharing MEP BIM on the cloud and with real-time video conferencing, construction companies from anywhere on the globe can monitor outsourced projects. This way, all architects, engineers, contractors and others will be connected and instantly updated and can participate in MEP collaboration.

• Outsourcing is a highly competitive industry and, as such, sensitive information in the form of data security is professionally and securely dealt with. Indian outsourcing companies follow data security laws and will be liable in case of a security breach. The prevailing professional atmosphere in the industry ensures that MEP businesses have nothing to fear while negotiating terms and addressing security concerns.

• Most companies today concentrate on building long-term business relations. Outsourcing companies strive to deliver their best, so they can continue the association well into the future. This means that these companies in India deliver project documentation on time, with highly secure data transactions, at a very competitive price.

As MEP projects move inevitably toward increasing their use of technology in business processes and a growing number of overseas outsourcing options present themselves, improved profits can start to be considered for projects in the future.

About The Author


Kuldeep Bwail, XS CAD Director, has worked in Pre-Construction, BIM & 3D Modeling for last 16 years. XS CAD specialises in multi-service & multi-disciplinary spatial co-ordination using Offshore CAD Team services in the UK, US, Australia & Canada.




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