Engineering and Design Software for MEP Industry Continues to Evolve
Emerging technologies are revolutionizing the field of MEP design. Of those technologies, nothing is having a bigger impact in 2022 than MEP design software.
In the past decade alone, MEP design software has undergone a fast evolution. Today, top engineers and designers all around the world are relying on MEP software to aid in the development and design of complex building systems.
Thanks to technological advancements, modern MEP design software has managed to transform the way MEP contractors and engineers work, reducing risk and maximizing productivity through time saving processes. With MEP design software, engineers are making more accurate renderings with improved accuracy and optimized building system design.
History of MEP Design Software
MEP design software has a long history. MEP software (short for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing software) has been used by engineers, builders, contractors, and designers to design mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems for more than a decade.
The concept was born out of frustrations over inefficiencies in the building process. Despite the debut of technologies like computers and fax machines, the 1980s was a relatively inefficient decade for the construction industry. Projects in the 1980s cost more than they needed to due to waste, and timelines were unnecessarily lengthy because written plans had to be manually reworked when obstacles arose.
Computer-aided design changed all that, and led to the widespread boom in building during the early 2000s.
The earliest iterations of design software were largely desktop-based. The software itself was locked up on users’ desktops, making it difficult to share drafts and project plans with collaborators on a construction team.
Modern MEP design software is largely cloud-based. Rather than being hosted on a MEP engineering company computer, the software lives virtually in the cloud. Cloud-based software makes it easier to collaborate on projects and reduces the duplication of efforts between construction teams. Professionals in the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing trades now work seamlessly from the same sets of plans, and updates or changes to renderings are made instantaneously for everyone to see.
According to a survey by AGC and Autodesk, a design software developer, nearly 40% of contractors say they have started using new design software since 2020. Today’s advanced software allows engineers to coordinate with construction professionals in the field and during the project development phase. Potential errors in building plans are identified and rectified immediately using technology with sophisticated algorithms, which does not add cost to ongoing projects.
The Evolution of MEP Engineering
Before the implementation of MEP design software, construction design and development was a laborious process. Each project required the creation of hand-drawn renderings. Engineers made calculations manually, and estimates could occasionally be inaccurate.
MEP design software brought construction into the digital age.
Now, software makes building calculations automatically, eliminating the opportunity for human error. Engineers also have the opportunity to include insights that can be shared alongside project plans. MEP engineering companies are using cloud collaboration software for model coordination, quantity takeoffs, QA/QC, and RFIs.
Producing renderings digitally also makes it easier for engineers to create mechanical data files and duplicated files for project owners.
It’s not uncommon for an MEP engineering company to use spec writing software that creates an engineering spec automatically using algorithmic technology. Other online tools are also available to aid construction managers in the search for manufacturers and online quotes. When these programs are tied into MEP software, engineers enjoy a smooth workflow from office to field.
Autodesk, Trimble, and Nemetschek are three of the most well-known design programs used by MEP engineers, however new software is continuing to roll out as cutting-edge construction technology is introduced into the market.
Benefits of Advanced MEP Design Software
Advancements in technology and MEP engineering strategy are brought together in the latest MEP design programs. For an industry that’s focused on saving time and money, MEP technology allows for immediate communication and collaboration between teams.
Project-related benefits of MEP design software include greater collaboration, better understanding of engineering intent, improved cost performance, and faster fabrication timelines. MEP design software has also been linked to improved quality of work and reduced errors and waste.
Perhaps the greatest benefit to MEP design software has to do with collaboration and sharing. Today’s software enables engineers to easily collaborate with all other members of their construction teams, including electrical and mechanical engineers.
Sharing data is also made easier thanks to connected cloud-based tools, which an MEP engineering company can use to communicate instantly with people outside their direct teams.
Organizations are using technology integrations to address potential collaboration or productivity challenges across workflows.
Advanced integrations also make it so that individual software can be connected and adapted for particular workflows, and information can be shared quickly across all the teams involved in a construction project.
Despite early resistance among some in the engineering field, cloud-based programming has been a game-changer for the field of construction engineering. Particularly during the early days of Covid-19, when nearly every MEP engineering company was working remotely, cloud-based technology allowed construction professionals to continue working on projects from outside the confines of a traditional office.
Nearly two years later, demand for cloud-based MEP design software has continued. Professionals throughout the construction industry are more willing to collaborate on projects when they’re being supported with the right technology for the job.
Prefabrication is a growing trend that allows engineers, designers, and contractors to save project time and minimize their footprints onsite.
The approach, which involves manufacturing systems offsite and assembling them onsite, requires significant communication between professionals across construction teams, and it relies on the use of the latest MEP software.
Taken together, these benefits help to speed project completion, so construction projects are more likely to finish on-time and below budget. The potential for human error is reduced when calculations are performed automatically and manual data entry is minimized.
An MEP engineering company using design software will see engineers and contractors working together more frequently and more seamlessly. Software makes it easier to see problems and find solutions.
Engineering and design firms are using software to coordinate early models and find potential clashes between building systems before construction begins. Designers and subcontractors are also receiving coordinated information earlier in the project lifecycle, which ensures mechanical and plumbing systems aren’t running into each other and creating unforeseen challenges down the line.