Key Trends in the MEP Industry
Written By Carol Dunn

The future of the MEP industry hinges on the trends of today. As those trends mesh together to improve the quality and efficiency of workflows, MEP firms can do the basics better. In a recent Podcast, Ian Molloy, Autodesk Senior Product Line Manager for MEP, explained that using the right automation, workflows can be connected and optimized, resulting in cost savings. As one Autodesk University attendee commented in an interview during the November, 2019, event, automation is becoming the norm in the MEP industry and transforming the way MEP contractors work. Here are some of the technology trends that are capturing attention:

3D Scanning

Today’s 3D laser scanners produce point clouds with huge amounts of data from a construction site or an existing building to be remodeled. Not only can the point cloud be used as a starting point for a Revit model and a way to create geometry, it remains as a linked reference. 3D scans provide a highly accurate representation of the project and the site it resides on.

Artificial Intelligence

After someone has worked in the MEP industry for a while, they may feel like they’ve seen just about everything. But how about a thousand iterations of something? Generative design can and will do that. Using computers to assist with design efficiency expands the horizons on what it means to select the best design.

Augmented Reality

–Giving a customer the ability to visualize a proposal in real time is a deal maker. Beyond that, giving a team member the ability to project a layer of the project model onto their field of view on the jobsite gives clarity to the project experience. The difference between virtual reality and augmented reality are described in this blog article.

BIMfinity and Beyond

Moving to Revit isn’t painless. Yet thousands of companies have made the switch, taking advantage of the continually improving “smart” features of Revit as well as subcontractor-specific software like eVolve MEP. Some firms use a combination of Revit plus AutoCAD. The net effect on the industry is that projects are being modeled in 3D, annotated with 2D drafting elements and attached to a database of project information. The “brain” investment that companies put into the Revit transition rewards them in the current project and beyond. This Applied Software article describes one post-construction example, digital twins.

Blockchain

According to an online Forbes article, there are now blockchain platforms for insurance, taxes, mining interests, loans, research, small business, trading, identity protection, solar power commerce, shipping, corporate bonds, and more. Basically the blockchain is a series of online global databases (the chain) used to track contracts, transactions and other timestamped records (the blocks). This new way of conducting business in the MEP space can shorten schedules for permitting, contracts and cryptocurrency payments by removing intermediaries, excuses and “check’s in the mail” obfuscation.

Internet of Things

Technology continues to improve for tracking things on the job, whether it’s inventory, equipment or even worker movement for safety purposes.

Robotics

If I were choosing jobs for a robot, I’d select the repetitive, heavy and dangerous tasks, which is exactly where the technology is being focused these days. The precision of robotic equipment also helps decrease wasted materials and overhead costs.

Cloud

Having a central location where project teams can connect and share data is the best way to avoid problems before they get built. Project management software that operates in the cloud, for example Autodesk BIM 360, is radically improving the way teams interact to get the project built

Offsite construction

The manufacturing principles for prefabricating chunks of a project in a controlled environment are moving into the realm of construction. In the past, a lag between changes on the jobsite and notification to the production line could really foul up the prefab process. Nowadays, with real-time collaboration, everyone on the project can have immediate access to changes as they happen, and the prefab “factory” can react immediately with adjustments to production. Compared to the old way we did business in AEC, that’s truly transformative.

Technology really is sweeping through the gates of the MEP industry. Eventually all of these trends – and probably things we haven’t thought of yet – will transform the way every MEP contractor works. If one or more of these trends has captured your attention, contact eVolve MEP today to talk to an industry expert about putting the right technology to work for you. eVolve MEP helps the MEP industry harness the power of Revit.

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