The life blood of any construction or engineering project, MEP (M&E) building sets are basic elements of comfort for those who will ultimately occupy the constructed spaces. Flawless MEP sets require detailed and efficient MEP design for design decision-making, accurate documentation, performance and cost-estimation, construction planning, management and operation of the construction project. MEP models, and how they are used, are meaningful to comprehensively creating MEP design. MEP modelling involves consultant MEP models and contractor MEP models. It is important to understand the differences between MEP consultants and MEP contractors and then understand the models that serve them both.
In fleeting, MEP consultants estimate client requirements and provide specialized advice on the preferred work course of action, while MEP contractors generally estimate client requirements and execute the work.
MEP consultants specialise in providing expert advice on materials to help in design decision making for MEP sets. They can analyse and foresee MEP issues and then solve them. MEP consultants create MEP models, mostly with Revit MEP, which is becoming a increasingly preferred in the industry, without being overly concerned with all clashes.
MEP contractors control the MEP sets, the scheduling of the work, the labour and ensures that MEP work is completed according to the guidelines, standards and schedules that have been agreed on and ensures that all the sets are clash-free. MEP contractors add detailed data, such as various materials quantities, etc., to the MEP models received from MEP consultants. They consult structural and architectural models and produce clash-free MEP models chiefly using Revit MEP and Navisworks.
A more detailed evaluation of MEP consultants, MEP consultant models, MEP contractors and MEP contractor models follow:
The term MEP consultant is generally used interchangeably with MEP designer or MEP engineer. Looking at what it entails to be an MEP engineer, it is applicable to understand that there are 3 main groups of MEP engineering professionals and specific sets they provide. They are as follows:
Mechanical Engineers design heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
- Air dispensing
- Central utility plants
- Utility master plan and design
- Steam, chilled and hot water dispensing
- Exhaust system design
- Infection control HVAC
- course of action piping
- Building control system
- Building energy modelling, analyses and audits
- replaceable energy system design and analyses
Electrical Engineers design electrical systems.
- Standby strength systems
- strength dispensing
- replaceable energy system design and examination
- strength quality assessments
- Harmonic examination
- Electrical and communication systems master plan and design
- Telephone/data layouts
- Call systems
- Security systems
- Fault current analyses
- Arc fault analyses and labelling
Plumbing Engineers design the plumbing systems.
- Domestic hot & cold water
- Natural gas piping
- Gas systems, dispensing and alarms
- Storm drainage systems
- Acid waste piping
- De-ionized water systems
- Reverse osmosis systems
- Water softening systems
MEP consultants or engineers ensure that structures are safe, inhabitable and comfortable. They manoeuvre by a number of constraints to produce a well-planned, analytical design that should work seamlessly and dependably. The MEP drawings that consultants create must depict the above systems individually and in coordinated form.
These drawings are derived from MEP designs with reference to client needs and whilst there is some reference to making their drawings clash free, this is not a dominant concern for the consultants, or at the minimum it has not been historically.
BIM is changing much of this for consultants because it requires the production of 3D models to create those drawings. With 3D models, clashes can be more easily identified and can sometimes make a decent design look very bad. As such consultants are paying more attention to production of 3D models that do not have obvious clashes, particularly in areas such as plant rooms, risers and main corridors runs.
The need to pay closer attention in this way has also challenged the way in which MEP consultants design and how they organise their design workflow. Historically, MEP consultant teams were able to work in design silos, where the HVAC designer and drafter worked on a building in one area of the office and the piping or electrical design and drafting team worked in a different area of the office. Whilst all had access to one another, other than some agreement on vertical and horizontal spacing at the start of the project, the teams were left to lay out the sets (using 2D drafting tool) in the areas as they saw fit – approaching the design of a building with a ‘building service approach’. As there was no way to clash test 2D drawings easily, they were then issued to contractors to manage the coordination consequently, usually resulting in several design changes by the consultant as a consequence of space not being planned consequently. With 3D and BIM the approach is different and more closely mirrors a ‘building zone approach’, whereby consultant modelling teams look at an area together and form sets in that area together. This more collaborative approach is further assisted by tools such as ‘work sharing’ in Revit, where users can work on the same area together and see the impact of a team member’s modelling work immediately.
The MEP design drawings which are produced from BIM models by consultants are consequently better than they were, but there are nevertheless some shortfalls that are not always addressed and these include the need to allow for fitting or hanging, access and lagging. Furthermore, the models may have been produced using standard/library elements which may be too small or too large compared to actual procured parts that a contractor may use.
Although on-site organisation may be prepared in improvement, conflicts and delays may nevertheless occur for the MEP contractor. MEP coordination drawings are produced chiefly to prevent these problems before they have a chance to occur and minimise any on-site clashes. Some of the issues faced by MEP contractors include installation conflicts and time-consuming redesign of MEP elements. MEP coordination drawings tie up a project cohesively. the time of action of BIM (Building Information Modelling) contributes significantly to making this a reality. MEP BIM coordination consists of HVAC BIM, piping BIM, and plumbing BIM coordination sets for MEP contractors. This helps in creating detailed plans, elevations and section drawings for MEP sets.
The coordinated and individual service drawings help installation teams during construction. MEP contractors consequently provide MEP shop drawing sets and coordination sets, producing realistic and ready-for-installation shop drawings. MEP contractors use BIM coordination and clash detection sets to amass the information they need to clarify and solve clashing interfaces between different building systems, resolving issues in the pre-construction stage and saving costs and time. Several MEP contractors also use examine to BIM modelling sets, since it uses 3D laser scanning technology to map an as-built ecosystem and then transfers the data into BIM software, such as Autodesk Revit and Navisworks.
The checks and modifications carried out using these sets by MEP contractors falls in into the time of action of VDC (Virtual Design and Construction). The VDC course of action reduces a project’s cost and time, principally by using coordination drawings to review the pre-construction design stage and include details of MEP system layouts. The coordination takes into account horizontal and vertical views, avoiding clashes between structural framing, ceilings, partitions, equipment, lights, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, conveying systems and other sets.
Models for MEP contractors represent mechanical, electrical, plumbing, HVAC systems that are clash-free. To create contractor MEP models, the architectural and structural models are consulted in detail, and structural elements, such as concrete beams, steel cores, slabs, columns, etc., in addition as architectural elements, such as stairs, doors, windows, internal walls, cladding systems, etc. are studied in conjunction with existing consultant MEP models to produce further detailed and efficient models. These models help contractors detect clashes and work out clash-free solutions and ultimately provide material for shop drawings or installation drawings or MEP construction coordination drawings, which can be utilised on site.
Unlike consultants, MEP contractors are responsible for fitting and commissioning of MEP sets and consequently their models will incorporate additional aspects such as:
- precisely stated elements – instead of library items, they will use models that will be fitted on site as these may differ in size or connection detail.
- Fitting feasibility – the 3D models will sometimes characterize clevis and trapeze hangars to ensure that the sets can be fitted to ceilings and walls
- Accessibility considerations – as sets require maintenance during a building’s life cycle, the MEP contractor’s models will include access hatches and access space to reach the elements of the sets that may require maintenance.
- Fabrication intent – MEP contractors are increasingly pushed for faster delivery on site and consequently creation of engineering modules for areas such as plant rooms, risers and corridors may also be incorporated in their 3D models. This will usually consequence in off-site manufactured steel-based frame structures that keep up all of the chief sets, such as ductwork, piping, drainage, electrical and fire sets.
In many ways, the above elements cannot be considered by consultants, as they are creating their models too early in the time of action. However, some aspects (such as accessibility) are increasingly starting to characterize in consultant models too.
Revit MEP is a popular software tool among MEP contractors to create 3D models, in addition as builder’s working drawings, fabrication drawings, shop drawings, collision detection, detailed section reviews, schedules and bill of materials etc. Shop drawings portray plans, elevations and sections. They depict structural grids, composite drawings, electrical part technical drawings, underground and above-ceiling coordination, sheet metal drawings, ductwork drawings, pipe fabrication drawings, plumbing drawings, equipment placement, etc.
Other than the use of Revit as a delivery platform, the MEP contractors’ course of action or approach for MEP coordination is vital, as it is a ‘building zone approach’, whereby his modelling and coordination teams look at all sets within each area as they form and remodel their BIM 3D models, utilising Revit’s worksharing characterize to see each other’s work as they progress. This way, clashes are minimised during the initial phases, and although interference examination checks are regularly undertaken, they are there to check tolerances as opposed to identifying modelling errors and meaningful clashes.
MEP 3D modelling sets, MEP BIM, HVAC BIM and construction documents are extensively useful by MEP consultants and MEP contractors in the construction industry. sets that include 3D MEP coordination and clash detection ensure both efficiency and cost saving for residential, commercial, healthcare and education sectors. Appreciating the difference between MEP consultant models and MEP contractor models, the thoroughness of information they provide and the related drafting and modelling sets obtainable helps plan and execute construction projects expediently.