Every building project requires MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) design services for heating, cooling, lighting and water services increasingly these aims are met with a more sustainable approach. MEP design services that are designed properly bring the full array of building services solutions to prospective clients and can also benefit from an environmentally friendly approach to design. There are various stages in the MEP design process which is known as MEP design engineering, which is itself supported by a team of documentation and modelling experts to provide MEP drafting, MEP 3D Modelling, 3D MEP clash detection and resolution and BIM MEP modelling for every stage of the design process.
Moving from concept, schematic, design development, tender and construction phases of the MEP design process requires several iterations that need to be managed well and documented effectively to improve understanding and communication of the project at later stages. Keeping in mind the complexity to coordinate MEP with the architectural and structural direction of the project, it can be best to design MEP in 3D rather than in 2D, as it provides a better picture of what a structure may look like. Also, it takes away the effort of bringing together different 2D views.
While MEP design can sometimes be an afterthought, lagging behind architecture and structural design, MEP BIM models generally form the core element of a BIM model, which is great for visualisation, but also produces construction documents like those created in 2D CAD drafting albeit with much more accuracy and in much less time. MEP 3D Modelling makes extensive use of BIM and is used to increase the coordination process but it also allows designers to review their designs and to adapt them to meet the challenges posed by client needs and environmental or sustainable requirements. Not only does a 3D MEP Coordination approach bring significant improvements to the installation process, improving the transition between design and construction, it also allows designers to visualise, test and revise their design in a working model, making effective use of the virtual design process.
As MEP Design and MEP Modelling are so intertwined, it makes sense to seek a provider that is able to provide both services in some cases. At present, there are several companies in the market from where various MEP services can be outsourced. Different companies have their own level of expertise in the services they offer but it all boils down to the choice of the clients as to who offers the best possible management of the key aspects such as time, cost and the overall MEP process beginning from design to installation sheets. In the wake of such a situation it is increasingly necessary for companies to offer as design and drafting services under one roof to optimise the level of coordination and cut down the collective time spent on different services. This has given rise to a few companies beginning to offer MEP Design and MEP BIM services as a part of combined package. Of these, the most popular MEP services on offer from a single company is a package of MEP Design for schematic and tender stages along with MEP BIM services for documentation of these stages but also of further detailed design (spatial coordination) stages typically undertaken by contractors. Here we look at the three prime benefits of undertaking MEP Design and MEP BIM Services from single service provider:
1. Time Saving and Cost Effective: Very often it is seen that an MEP design services firm does not have the luxury of investing in in-house MEP modelling and an extensive MEP Design Engineering team to cater to the various MEP stages involved. Hence, it becomes a need to outsource the MEP design and MEP BIM services from service provides. More importantly, to obtain these services from a single, all-inclusive service provider to increase the level of competency and the set of benefits which are drastically reduced if the services are outsourced from different service providers. The fragmentation can add up a considerable cost, valuable time is lost on part of the clients. Hence, by obtaining these services from single service provider saves a lot of time and the considerable cost as well.
2. Clash Management: More than time and cost savings, undertaking these services from a single service provider can result in improved coordination of MEP services through the production of a coordinated, clash free virtual model. It enables early identification and rectification of coordinated issues, resulting in the reduction of installation time and costs. It reduces waste of man-hours by reducing the requirement for site based modifications.
3. Improved Efficiency and Smooth Transition: One of the most important but underrated features of BIM is automated generation of Bill of Materials (BOMs). Undertaking MEP design and MEP BIM services from a single service provider ensures the automated generation of the Bill of Materials (BOMs) enabling accurate data management and extraction which will be otherwise obtained from the MEP BIM services provider in case of a fragmented choice of service providers. It also improves the overall efficiency of on-site service installation and the overall quality, detail and accuracy of MEP documentation. Having these services under one roof ensures smooth transition of the process from MEP design to MEP modelling without any delays or undue errors.
MEP design services can be managed in various ways in-house but with external options now also available, the key to finding an outsourcing partner rather than handling the work in-house, will be the ability of the outsourcing partner to efficiently communicate and coordinate with the different levels of design teams to ensure a balanced and smooth implementation of all the aspects of the design and modelling process ideally from a single office and therefore from a single partner.