MEP Masterminds Recap: Prefabrication with Adam Heon
Written By Caitlin Dunn

“Think of prefabrication as a full gamut of a process: design, gathering information, coordinating, fabricating, delivering, installing… that to me is prefabrication.” For the seventh installment of MEP Masterminds virtual event, Adam Heon of eVolve MEP discussed all things prefabrication.

“I was exposed to prefabrication before I was really exposed to the world,” Adam began. “I think today, most contractors may be only three to five years getting into fabrication and probably thinking of it from the BIM perspective… I do have a kind of different perspective on it.” He went on to explain several challenges that must be addressed for effective fabrication, what’s required for detailing in fabrication, how standardization impacts its effectiveness, and what prefabrication requires in order to be properly utilized.

It’s the whole process,” Adam said. “As I progress through this kind of world, there is a little more to it than [evaluating field labor]… how do you actually install this work and what do you do from project to project? You see a lot of variations, and specifications change.” Especially if there are different code requirements in different jurisdictions, Adam said, the process of making “the same thing over and over” is far from simple.

He detailed several other challenges that can “make or break” a project: detailers lacking field experience, unforeseen field conditions, differing fabrication and installation methods, and the difficulty in conveying and compiling information. “You spend this time—you fabricate this beautiful model, you get the systems, you go out to the field and [something happens] that just causes the whole product to not work at all,” he said. “You end up scrapping the whole project. I’ve seen that happen.”

Regarding standardization, he mentioned that prefabrication is no faster than on-site construction without the standardization of equipment and methods. “[Standardization] tends to be a pendulum swing,” he added. “It can start way off on the side where you don’t have any standards, which is just ineffective. Obviously, they’re not sufficient enough, but it actually will swing way off to the other side and it can be excessive.” At some point, he said, there’s a question of “Well, what value is that gaining? Is it actually level of detail in this area? With this pendulum swing, you’re always trying to just get this thing right in the sweet spot.”

Virtual breakout room participants discussed such topics as factors that contributed to a successful (or unsuccessful) prefabricated project; factors that hold back standardization with design, prefabrication and installation methods; and what the future of prefabrication and building construction looks like. Participants posited that workers on prefabrication projects must be qualified and that certain aspects of construction are much easier to standardize than others. Perhaps the future of prefabrication – the design, information gathering, coordinating, fabricating, delivering, and installing – will be in modularization.

Modularization and prefabrication are two of the topics planned for the upcoming MEP Force 2020 virtual conference. Sometimes even the smallest things can be the best teachers, and lessons learned can come in many forms. One opportunity is participation in the virtual MEP Force, developed specifically for the MEP industry. Register for MEP Force today and take advantage of this opportunity to learn from your industry peers.

Don’t forget to share this post!

Related Articles

Experience the Multiplier Effect of Software Tools

Experience the Multiplier Effect of Software Tools

We are an industry where machine and computer power enhance the work of the person, in many cases, making the very jobs we undertake possible. Modeling wouldn’t be feasible if not for the computing power of today’s equipment, from Robotic Total Stations (RTS) units to laptops and cranes.

Harness BIM’s Top Advantages: Efficiency, Productivity and Savings

Harness BIM’s Top Advantages: Efficiency, Productivity and Savings

Making the investment in Building Information Modeling (BIM) systems can transform construction operations from the start of any project, leading to more efficient use of time and materials in all phases of the build, including long after the active construction project is completed. Through BIM, savings can be realized for the stakeholders in the project–from the building owner to subcontractors–and the operator of the structure benefits far into the future.

Key Strategies to Manage Waste in Construction

Key Strategies to Manage Waste in Construction

While economic situation brings focus on improving ways to increase efficiency in the workplace, these money-saving ideas should be in place during all times. They are best practices that not only save money, but they also save time and cut down on waste, which critical in these eco-aware times.