MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection) coordination is an integral part of the construction engineering process. Whether your project is a new fab, core and shell, tenant improvement, tool install, or a renovation, coordinating your MEP systems ensures your project stays on schedule and within budget.
What is MEP Coordination?
When developing a project, multiple services are required for the functionality of the building and the comfort and safety of the occupants. These building services include mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection systems. Where things can get messy is each of these systems are separate disciplines being designed and installed by different subcontractors.
With each trade developing its own contract documents independent of the others, there’s a high possibility that systems could overlap, causing clashes. Clashes occur when two systems are planned to occupy the same space.
Through MEP coordination, each subcontractor’s scope is populated into a 3D coordination model. The MEP coordinator then examines this model for clashes and identifies problem areas. Upon discovery, clashes are assigned and adjustments are coordinated with the subcontractors involved. In some cases, there are simply too many systems trying to pass through the same area and a solution requires further direction. When this occurs, the coordination team submits an RFI and works with or takes direction from the design team on a possible solution.
Identifying and solving clashes during the planning process is key to having your project stay on time and on budget. The last thing a project budget or schedule needs is to have conflicts arise or be solved during installation.
The Costs of Skipping MEP Coordination
There’s a misconception that MEP coordination is simply too expensive and can be done without. Or that coordination can simply be done by your general contractor instead of bringing in a third-party expert. While upfront these choices may look fiscally responsible, the fact is that poor MEP coordination always costs projects, both in time and money.
Without MEP Coordination, clashes are not identified until systems are being installed. Solving clashes during installation is no small fix. When clashes occur, the general contractor, subcontractors, engineering team, and detailers, all have to collaborate to solve the problem. This means reworking, redesigning, and rescheduling the installation of all affected systems, costly change orders, and potentially reordering custom equipment. This all occurs while subcontractors are already on site, resulting in delays and higher labor costs.
Another route often taken is having the general contractor run the MEP coordination as part of their scope of work. The general contractor and their team are responsible for every aspect of the project. This often means that MEP coordination doesn’t get the focused attention a third-party expert brings. In many instances, MEP coordination is delegated to a less experienced team member who isn’t as knowledgeable about what’s constructible for any one trade. This results in either clashes not being assigned to the appropriate trade, causing delays, or approving models that may be free of clashes, but are simply not constructible or code compliant.
Poor MEP coordination will end up costing your project. It costs in more labor hours in the field, it costs in schedule delays, and it costs on overall building efficiency.
Why You Need an MEP Coordination Expert
When you work with an MEP coordinator, clashes are solved before you break ground. This keeps your detailing and installation costs on budget, eliminates the need for costly adjustments, and reduces labor hours.
An expert third-party MEP coordination team knows the in and outs of each trade. They plan for their needs and limitations in the field. They understand the building and safety codes of the individual trades and make sure all drawings result in code-compliant work. They think about how each system will be installed and include hangers and supports in their models. A great article to read about this is Top 6 things to look for from a Detailing and MEP coordination Provider.
This upfront planning results in accurate and constructible models and sets your project up for success.
Benefits of MEP Coordination
Many systems require specialized equipment that can have long lead times and be expensive to source and ship. MEP coordination ensures the correct equipment is ordered and will fit in its designated location without interference.
Scheduling multiple trades to complete a project on time is a challenging art. With MEP coordination, you have a clear picture of the scope of work for each trade and can minimize change orders and scheduling delays.
Proper MEP coordination means all the building’s systems are clash free before fabrication/construction. This results in a constructible design that is easily installed in the field.
Coordinating your MEP systems ensures they are designed to maximize building efficiency. Efficient systems mean lower building operating costs, longer-lasting equipment, and a shortened construction period.
The ICON-BIM Advantage
At ICON-BIM, our MEP coordinators are not only detailers, they’re tradespeople as well. Every one of our team members has worked with the tools and has completed a 5-year union apprenticeship. That translates to a deep understanding of what’s constructible and code-compliant here in the United States. We design systems that not only work on paper but can be efficiently installed on-site.
Our process involves populating all the MEP system’s drawings into one 3D model in Navisworks. Our team then meticulously reviews all systems to identify clashes. Once identified, ICON-BIM’s field knowledge allows us to choose the most cost-effective solution for resolving that clash and assigns it to the appropriate subcontractor. For larger problem areas, RFIs are issued and we work with the project team to determine the best course of action based on the needs and restrictions of each trade. As clashes are cleared, our model is updated and we end up with an accurate, constructible, clash-free model.
Imagine field installation with minimal/if any change orders and not having to reroute systems. With MEP coordination from ICON-BIM, we can make that a reality.