One of the most integral practices undertaken in the pre-construction phase, MEP coordination demands special attention from all the AEC professionals involved in a project. This process ensures that the building’s architectural design and its structural framework don’t interfere or clash with its Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing or Fire Protection systems. While the MEP coordination process may vary from firm to firm depending on the client’s requirements and the level of details (LOD) sought, following are the typical stages involved in the same:
1. Review of Consultant Design Drawings and Architectural/Structural Plans
In this preliminary stage, the firm responsible for MEP coordination normally receives single-line drawings from MEP consultants or contractors. Additionally, the architectural and structural plans are analysed in detail. Apart from evaluating these drawings and layouts for consistency with schematics, their MEP specifications are studied. Based on this analysis, the MEP coordination services provider lays out a coordination roadmap.
2. 3D Model Creation
Using the consultant design drawings received in the initial stage, the MEP coordination services provider creates an accurate 3D model, by either using Revit or AutoCAD. This model shows all the MEP services within the architectural and structural limitations of the building. The 3D model completed here lays the groundwork for several other important construction-related drawing sets — plans, sections or elevations. Furthermore, this 3D model will be used for client inputs and for creating detailed walkthroughs.
3. Clash Detection and Resolution
In this stage, the MEP coordinating services provider evaluates the 3D model, created in the previous stage, for conflicts and clashes between the architectural elements and the MEP systems. This is done using Navisworks, a specialist interference-checking software application. Any inconsistencies, including the geometry-related hard clashes, the clearance clashes, and workflow clashes, if any, are detected here and feasible alternatives for the same are provided to the client.
4. Creation of Coordinated Drawings and Sections
Once the 3D model is tested for horizontal and vertical coordination and clearance, coordinated drawing sets are prepared to show how mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire-protection systems work together in the same space. Besides, to make sizes clear for each discipline, additional notes may be added. The coordinated drawings form a ready reference for individual service-by-service drawings. In addition to this, firms responsible for handling MEP coordination may take section, elevation and isometric views from the same 3D model and use them to explain to the clients and detail the layouts.
5. Creation of Detailed Service Drawings
At this stage, each of the single service-by-service drawings are created and details related to their sizes, heights, and distances from gridlines, are added for further clarity. While these drawings are used by site installation teams, they also form the basis for fabrication drawings.
6. Creation of Fabrication Drawings, Spool and Hangar Drawings
In case the scope of work requires, then the individual services drawings are used to create fabrication drawings by either using traditional detailing or using FAB-MEP software. These drawings display fabrication details for ductwork and can be directly recognised by the CNC machines for production purposes.
If needed, the MEP coordination team also details elements of the model to create spooling data for production teams. Apart from this, the firm may also map out and then detail the hangers for each drawing. Once mapped out, the hangar details are shown on a schedule for the production teams.
Depending on the scope of the project, some of the above stages may be excluded by the MEP coordination services providers. However, each phase is crucial for a smooth completion of the project without any delays, cost overruns, and abrupt design changes.
7. As-Fitted Changes
This final stage involves making changes to the model and the drawings due to any site based changes or deviations from the construction drawings. In cases where the coordination exercise has been well executed and the installation has followed the construction drawing instructions and layouts, the changes to the as-fitted (also known as as-built and as-installed) drawings are minimal.