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What is MEP coordination

What is MEP coordination, which technical roles and tools are involved? What are MEP coordination drawings, which advantages can be added to the BIM process? All the details in this inisight.

The MEP coordination activity is a fundamental step in the BIM process that allows the identification of interferences before the construction phase.

MEP coordination is a multidisciplinary collaboration and coordination practice based on BIM that involves the three main fields of construction and infrastructure design: architecture, structure and installation systems.

Let’s see what it is and why it is important in the BIM process.

Before moving on the the key aspects, I suggest you try out these two essential tools to coordinate and manage a BIM MEP project:

What is MEP coordination?

When we talk about MEP, we refer to all aspects of management, design and maintenance of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. The acronym MEP, in fact, stands for Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing.

MEP is an important step in the BIM process: just think that this part of the building can account for up to 40-60% of the total cost of a project.

Equally important is MEP coordination, that is the set of activities aimed at ensuring integration between the different disciplines during all phases of the design, construction and maintenance processes related to a given asset.

There are 5 steps that generally define the MEP coordination process:

  1. validation of the architectural model;
  2. creation of the MEP model;
  3. use of the BIM MEP model;
  4. interference detection;
  5. resolution of interferences.

The basis of interdisciplinary coordination is communication between professionals.

The center of communication is the 3D BIM model, which must always be up-to-date, available and accurate. Working on a single 3D BIM model allows to detect any interferences and to solve them already in the early design phase.

For example, in this phase, the position of some components of the heating system could overlap with the structural mesh assumed by the structural engineer. This preliminary verification leads to an issue resolution at an initial stage, avoiding costly changes during the construction phase.

MEP coordination begins in the preliminary design phase and ends before  completing the requesting authorizations and planning permission. At this stage, a multi-disciplinary meeting among all professionals can prove to be useful to examine any interference and obtain a completely conflict-free model.

What are MEP coordination drawings?

The MEP coordination drawings (mechanical, electrical, hydraulic) are the set of drawings that describe the design choices and allow you to have a complete overview of the works to be carried out before construction. They describe the types of systems used, their positions, sizing, intervention costs, etc.

The main purpose is to reconstruct a general idea of  the hypothetical choices in order to verify any interference between the models below:

  • mechanical, such as HVAC equipment, cooling towers and ducts;
  • electrical, including panels, lifts, electrical panels, cable trays, transformers, etc.;
  • plumbing, such as water tanks, sewage wells, pumps, etc.;
  • for fire safety.
MEP coordination and drawings

MEP Drawings | plan views, cross-sections and 3D views

This coordination process facilitates the construction phase of the project and the installation of plant systems, in compliance with the standards set in the project, the timing and the budgeted costs.

The advantages of coordination drawings are:

  • integrated design (multidisciplinary information is shown in a single model);
  • saving of resources;
  • reduction of construction costs;
  • reduction of errors due to miscommunications
  • improved collaboration and visualization;
  • space optimization;
  • detection of interferences in the preliminary phase

The coordination drawings can be detailed according to the objective and the development phase of the project. Usually MEP BIM models are developed according to 5 levels of detail:

  • 3D MEP preliminary design model (LOD 100);
  • 3D MEP detailed design model (LOD 200);
  • 3D MEP construction design model (LOD 300);
  • MEP construction model (LOD 350);
  • MEP prefabrication model (LOD 400).

For more interesting info concerning the levels of detail, I recommend reading this article “LOD and LOIN in BIM: what they are and what they are used for“.