Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems (MEP) are highly essential in managing the construction industry, especially in residential and commercial structures. Knowing this, it is safe to say that MEP contractors are incredibly critical to modern infrastructure projects. These professionals deal with the most technical and complex aspects of the construction building process, which requires careful planning, years of expertise, and strict execution in operations.
It is not surprising to know that a complex role as an MEP professional experiences challenges as well. The specialty contractors work with a range of project stakeholders. They must be articulate to communicate to the general contractors how they will handle the complexities of the project while still sticking to the budget and the timeline. In the last few years, MEP contractors have depended more heavily on both the established and emerging construction technologies to increase collaboration, streamline workflows, and improve overall outcomes. The proven best and the most trusted technologies by the MEP professionals are easy to deploy in any setting and certainly deliver the highest return of investment (ROI).
In this blog, we list down the favorite innovations by the MEP contractors to help address various potential obstacles such as productivity, accessibility, and inventory planning by the use of construction software designed specifically for these tasks.
Read on below to learn more.
1. Fabrication Software
Fabrication software in construction helps provide real-time information and insights for smarter decision-making—from the fabrication shop to the construction field. It helps break down a model into its parts for fabrication, keeping track of the shop processes for assembly, and installing the following field processes. The best fabrication software is flexible enough to manage various tasks without sacrificing the precision needed to get the job done right.
As the construction industry continues to set the bar even higher on fabricators, the presented solutions are getting better. It’s worth noting—just because a solution is “advanced” doesn’t mean it’s “difficult to use.” Below are three critical areas of fabrication software to help paint you a better picture of where this technology is going.
a. Cutting Tools
MEP contractors promote fabrication software to win more profitable projects by automating time-intensive tasks and on-site routines. Automated cutting tools and equipment are designed to aid fabricators in synchronizing cutting lists to remote shop areas from their BIM 360 model packages. These automated cutting tools help easily automate the positioning of cuts straight on the fabrication machines— helping to eliminate messy cut lines, generate designs, reduce overall fabrication time, and automate assembly and processes.
Beyond automated cutting tools, advanced BOM software offers features that will enhance the fabrication process by unifying teams across design, planning, fabrication, execution, and field deployment with a primal focus on enabling more efficient prefabrication, real-time communication, and tracking with field employees.
b. Productivity Tracking Tools
One of the most common issues in construction productivity is that important information often lives in different places, such as old file drawers, outdated email threads, or stuck in the warehouse files archive. In other words, the information is often “somewhere there” but inaccessible to project stakeholders who may not be aware of its existence in the first place. Productivity tracking software aspires to resolve that. These innovative platforms allow a company to provide transparency in project progress while calling out any roadblocks that may be a bottleneck on a project. By connecting BIM, fabrication departments, and field teams, users can increase productivity, reduce costs, boost efficiency, and foster safety.
With these productivity tracking tools, MEP contractors can manage, track, collaborate on improving efficiencies, and offer overall construction crew management throughout each stage of a project life cycle. They also allow the management of fabrication, spooling, and even installation of module building materials. This software makes it more convenient to track and monitor productivity with deeper insights or at-a-glance real-time reports.
c. Inventory Management Software
MEP professionals benefit from having a more detailed picture of their resource or inventory needs. Once the planning and design phase of a building is complete, resource and inventory planning tools come into play. This is especially essential for MEP contractors who often operate with resource-heavy commitments on a very tight budget.
Inventory management software allows contractors to manage and meet their inventory needs more efficiently. While offering a complete set of options and solutions for the entire BIM 360 process, they also provide features to notify users whenever the supply chain is running low and to effectively show at a glance where a specific item is located.
Advanced tools like this make it easier to communicate and measure project progress. Whether needing a complete perspective outlook or down-to-the-detail procurement numbers, inventory management tools provide detailed insights that can save your company a ton of time and money.
2. Project Management for Construction Software
Generally speaking, project management software is quite similar to productivity tracking software in that it allows detailed documentation, tracking, and reporting. However, project management tools deviate in that they focus on project progress, instead of progress along a sub-process, like installation, procurement, or fabrication. With these management tools, you can monitor and keep track of every stage of a project’s life cycle, from simplest tasks management to dependencies, completions, and roadblocks in a consolidated and holistic context.
Project management software can help MEP contractors will collaboration between the office and the field while centralizing insights, data, and documentation. Furthermore, key stakeholders can clearly picture project progress with visuals of timeline milestones, goals, and completion.
The all-connected platform acts as the single centralized place for design and builds decisions by holding all data in a common environment. Myriad of construction project management software has a robust ecosystem of integration options, enabling the platform to acts as the foundation for a connected technology ecosystem. This allows MEP contractors to seamlessly incorporate comprehensive project management software in tandem with a more trade-specific tool, such as subcontractor scheduling software. The software is designed to help subcontractors systematize their project management process. By improving preconfigured processes on the job site for MEP work, subcontractors can prioritize project delivery more efficiently and reduce errors, costs, and time spent unnecessarily tracking down the progress of tasks.
3. Construction Layout Software
Another item in MEP advancements, we have construction layout software. Categorically, the software helps general contractors and subcontractors plot out a step-by-step plan by knowing what goes on any job site. No guesswork. This also provides a solution to a genuine concern of collision tracking in project management. Additionally, it offers building-critical insights for the easy-to-follow process of the project that allows complete transparency into the complex tasks of MEP contractors.
One noteworthy construction layout tool is the construction site cameras. It allows general contractors to verify mechanical, electrical, and planning parts that have been installed in the building. Through integration with project management software, MEP contractors can make sure that crews look at the most up-to-date design and that their field teams have accurate data. Being able to cross every task successfully in a highly complex build is essential. Furthermore, to be able to share accurate plans and field data helps to streamline important MEP workflows.
4. Augmented Reality Technology
Augmented reality (AR) technology offers digital information in a user’s perspective of the real world, giving you a chance to see both the real and the digital together.” It’s an exciting time for construction. For MEP professionals, this might look like holding up a mobile phone and seeing sewage piping plans superimpose your view from the camera. It’s challenging to think of a better way to move forward into the future and visualize the various stages of a construction project. Ease of use is a top priority, and these AR innovations have a pretty good head start. They’ve been made feasible using the same technology used in video game development, automotive design, filmmaking, and architecture.
The benefits of AR technology for MEP contractors include everything from cost reduction and increased safety to an acceleration of heavily strategic decision-making. The hands-free feature provides a safe way to communicate in the construction site with stakeholders to discuss project scheduling, progress, risk management, and resource needs. Through the incorporated reality technology, MEP contractors can see their plans remotely on-site, in real-time. All employees have to change their hard hats and put on glasses to see their projects in “real life.”
5. Bid Management Software
Today, submitting and managing bids is more than just quantity and speed. You don’t want another subcontractor or third-party contractor swooping in because you’re lost in your numbers and scheduling. MEP professionals need to be able to assess risk and cost as well as ensure timeline accuracy. Bid management software can help MEP contractors increase the success rate of winning bids by allowing for quick adjustments.
Innovative preconstruction tools like bid management software help owners and construction professionals assess risk and cost more quickly before commencing a particular project. MEP contractors can maintain and track ongoing projects while gathering data into their overall bidding performance to attain better overall outcomes.
For MEP contractors, these new technologies not only bring value but help construction companies tap into innovations that save valuable resources, such as time and money on projects. These innovations also trigger the potential for profits in the long term by enhancing the visibility of data, increasing advancement to complex processes, and allowing for efficient growth of their businesses.