Construction Management

7 Advancements in MEP Tech that Make Life Easier on Contractors

Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems are essential to commercial and residential buildings. In turn, MEP contractors are critical to modern infrastructure projects. These construction professionals work with arguably the most complex and technical aspects of the building process, which require expertise, careful planning, and strict execution.

Understandably, this complex role comes with unique challenges. MEP contractors work with a range of stakeholders and must skillfully communicate to builders how they’ll tackle project complexities while sticking to the timeline and budget. In recent years, MEP contractors have relied more heavily on emerging and established technologies to streamline workflows, increase collaboration, and improve outcomes. The most popular technologies are easy to deploy and deliver the greatest ROI. We’ve captured our favorite innovations to help address a range of potential obstacles including accessibility, productivity, and resource planning below.

Fabrication Software

Fabrication software is incredibly helpful in providing real-time insights for better decision making—from the shop to the field. It aids in spooling a model into its component parts for fabrication, tracking shop processes for assembly, and field processes for installation. The best software is flexible enough to handle a variety of different jobs without sacrificing the precision required to get the job done right.

With the construction industry continuing to set the bar higher on fabricators, the solutions are getting better too. It’s worth mentioning — just because a solution is more “advanced” doesn’t mean it’s more “difficult to use.” Below are three areas of fabrication software, with examples, to help paint a better picture of where this technology is going.

1. Automated Cutting Tools

MEP firms leverage fabrication software to win more profitable work by automating routine and time-intensive tasks. One company doing this well is Allied BIM. The innovation of their fabrication technology lies in its delivery of autonomous cutting stations. Automated cutting tools are designed to help fabricators synchronize cut lists to remote shop locations from their BIM 360 model packages. These tools help automate the positioning of cuts directly on the fabrication machines — helping to generate designs, eliminate messy cut lines, automate assembly and spooling processes, and reduce overall fabrication time.

Beyond automated cutting tools, Allied BIM’s Fabrication Suite offers powerful solutions to enhance the fabrication process by uniting teams across design, fabrication, and field deployment with a huge focus on enabling better prefabrication, tracking, and real-time communication with field employees.

2. Productivity Tracking Tools

One of the key challenges in construction productivity is that critical information often lives in silos. In other words, the information is often there but inaccessible to stakeholders who may not be aware of its existence. Productivity tracking software aims to resolve that.MSUITE, for example, allows an organization to provide transparency in progress while flagging any roadblocks that may be holding up a project. Through connecting BIM, fabrication and field teams, users are able to reduce costs, increase productivity, efficiency and safety.

With tools like MSUITE, MEP contractors can track, manage, and collaborate on improving efficiencies throughout each stage of a project life cycle. They allow management of spooling, fabrication, and even installation of premade items. This software makes it easier to monitor and track productivity with deep insights or at-a-glance reports.

3. Supply Chain Tools

MEP contractors benefit from having a more accurate picture of their resource needs. Once the design phase of a building is complete, supply chain and resource planning tools come into play. This is especially important for MEP contractors who often operate on tight budgets with resource-heavy commitments.

Software like Stratus, for example, allows contractors to more effectively meet and manage their supply chain needs. While offering a full suite of solutions for the entire BIM 360 process, we want to call out their Packages feature since we’re talking about supply chain tools.

In most cases, it’s unrealistic to put a barcode on every pipe and part, then scan every barcode at every phase in the shop. This is where Stratus’ innovative technology excels. Their software allows you to organize parts by Package in the model. By scanning a single part in the shop, all packaged parts are updated. This gives you insight into where they’re at, so you can more accurately determine when they’ll get to where they need to be.

Tools like this make it easier to measure and communicate project progress. Whether needing a high-level look or granular procurement numbers, supply chain tools provide detailed insights that can save a ton of time and money.

4. Project Management Software

Project management software is similar to productivity tracking software in that it allows detailed tracking, documentation, and reporting. However, project management tools diverge in that they focus on project progress, rather than progress along a sub process, like fabrication or installation. With these tools, you can monitor and track every stage of a project’s life cycle from simple task management to completions, dependencies, and roadblocks in a unified and holistic context.

Project management software like Autodesk Construction Cloud can help MEP contractors coordinate between the office and the field while centralizing data and documentation. Additionally, leadership can get a clear picture into progress with visuals of timeline goals and completions.

The connected platform acts as the single source of truth for design and build decisions by housing all data in a common data environment (CDE). Autodesk Construction Cloud also has a robust ecosystem of integration partners, enabling the platform to serve as the foundation for a connected technology stack. This enables MEP contractors to seamlessly leverage comprehensive construction management software in tandem with a more trade-specific tool. For instance, Autodesk Construction Cloud can also be integrated with trade-specific project management software such as eSUB. The software is designed to help subcontractors standardize their project management process. By leveraging preconfigured forms on the jobsite for MEP work, subcontractors can work more efficiently and reduce costs, errors, and time spent redundantly tracking down progress of tasks.

5. Construction Layout Software

Next up in MEP innovations, we have construction layout software. Specifically, the software helps contractors plot out an easy-to-follow plan by knowing what goes where on any site. No guesswork. This also mitigates a very real concern of collision tracking. It provides building-critical insights for every step of the project and allows complete transparency into the complex workings of MEP.

One noteworthy construction layout tool is Leica iCON, of the famous Leica cameras. It  allows contractors to verify MEP parts that have been installed in the building. Through integration with Autodesk, MEP contractors can ensure crews are working with the most up-to-date design and that their teams have accurate field data. Being able to cross every ‘t’ in a highly complex build is essential. As Leica iCON notes, “fast, accurate verification in building construction is a significant concern for our customers.” Being able to share accurate design and field data seamlessly helps to streamline critical MEP workflows.

6. Augmented Reality Technology

Augmented reality (AR) “superimposes digital information in a user’s view of the real world, allowing you to see real and digital worlds together.” It’s an exciting time for construction. For MEP contractors, this might look like holding up a tablet and seeing piping plans overlay your view from the camera. It’s hard to think of a better way to step into the future and visualize the different stages of a project. Ease of use is a priority and these innovations have a pretty good head start. They’ve been made possible using the same technology being used in video game development, filmmaking, automotive design, and architecture.

VisualLive is one of the AR technologies bringing the future to MEP contractors. Its HoloLive
product works with Microsoft’s HoloLens and headsets to overlay 3D CAD files on jobsites. Through the mixed reality technology, contractors can see their plans right on-site, in real time. All a contractor has to do is adapt their hard hat and put on some glasses to see their MEP plans in “real life”.

The benefits of AR technology like VisualLive, for MEP contractors, includes everything from increased safety and cost reduction to acceleration of strategic decision-making. The hands-free sets provide a safe way to communicate on-site with stakeholders to discuss progress, resource needs, and site risks.

7. Bid Management Software

Today, managing and submitting bids is about more than volume and speed. You don’t want another contractor swooping in because you’re lost in your own numbers. MEP contractors need to be able to assess cost and risk as well as ensure accuracy. Bid management software can help contractors increase the success rate of bids by allowing for quick adjustments.

Powerful preconstruction tools, like BuildingConnected, help owners and builders more quickly assess cost and risk before embarking on a project. MEP contractors can track and maintain current projects while gathering insights into their overall bidding performance to achieve better overall outcomes.

The Value of These Innovations Extend to the Construction Industry at Large

For MEP contractors, these technologies not only bring value, but help firms tap into innovations that save time and money on projects. These innovations also drive the potential for profits in the long term by increasing accessibility to complex processes, enhancing the visibility of data, and allowing for efficient scaling of their businesses.

Learn how Autodesk Construction Cloud integrates with these products and others in our ecosystem on our website.

The post 7 Advancements in MEP Tech that Make Life Easier on Contractors appeared first on Digital Builder.

Construction Services

3 Avoidable Headaches for Construction Project Managers [Webinar]

Relieve these common GC headaches by getting project teams on the same page.

Being a general contractor (GC) isn’t easy. Your construction project management skills are constantly put to the test. You’re at the center of a network of stakeholders who rely on your coordination alongside thousands—or even millions—of dollars to build the structures and infrastructure that help everyone else live their lives. And you have to do all that within a contracted amount of time with razor-thin profit margins. 

With a role this demanding that evolves in complexity every year, it’s no wonder that processes that have worked well in the past are now routine headaches that every GC in the industry runs into. Some of the top problems GCs face are three documentation processes that, while important for communication and liability, take time away from actually building. 


1. Creating the submittal log 

The submittal log, in short, is a list of all documents that the contractor is required to provide to the design team to ensure that the project is following the spec book. Historically, the process has been to have a project engineer (PE), typically the newest builder, flip through the laid-out specs page-by-page and copy each submittal requirement into a spreadsheet. The project team can then track that submittal log throughout the rest of the project. This not only takes days or weeks for the PE to complete, but human error often results in oversights of important submittals that aren’t included in the log. When PE’s fail to record necessary requirements, they’re unlikely to do them. This puts GC’s in breach of contract, which can lead to costly rework, lawsuits, late delivery, or all three.

The modernized process that the industry is adopting is to use automated software like Pype AutoSpecs for initial submittal log drafting to save time, standardize processes, and mitigate risk. AutoSpecs scans spec books using a patented algorithm designed to identify all submittal requirements, QA/QC requirements, closeout requirements, mock-ups, product data, and a lot more. Project teams can quickly compare previous versions of the specs to the most recently issued version and review all changes, clearly identifying extraneous and redundant requirements. Top GCs are even using AutoSpecs’ built-in filters to review the log and assign custom sections of it to their trades. 

Want to learn more about how AutoSpecs’ automation can save you time, standardize your processes, and mitigate risk across your projects? Join our webinar on November 16th to see it in action.

Register NOW


2. Maintaining a single source of truth 

In an industry as iterative and paper-trail-y as construction, there is inevitably going to be a lot of contractually-obligated paperwork needing to be tracked. Between RFIs, contract documents, progress reports, as-builts, specs, plans, and hundreds more document types that can each contain hundreds of pages, it’s a lot for any project team to keep track of. And when contract compliance relies on following only the most recent documents like plans, specs, change orders, addendums, etc., making sure everyone is on the same page—literally and figuratively—can be the difference between a payday and bankruptcy for a GC. 

Making sure everyone is on the same page—literally and figuratively—can be the difference between a payday and bankruptcy for a GC. 

Most project management software solves for this to some degree, but only Autodesk Build allows access to these documents throughout the entire project lifecycle. Data created in design phase programs such as Navisworks and Revit is stored in the same common data environment (CDE) that the rest of Autodesk Construction Cloud uses, meaning that Build—and any other ACC software—can access this data at any time without having to push it back and forth between different modules.  

All project data is stored in this CDE so that GC teams using Build always have access to the latest, most up-to-date documents to work with. This allows them to do their jobs without having to worry about a new version being published that they weren’t aware of. Autodesk Build maintains the single source of truth for GC teams, regardless of where the project is in the lifecycle. Watch the recorded webinar here.

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3. The turnover package 

It’s a frustrating truth that even if the first 95% of a project goes perfectly, a fumbled turnover experience can leave enough of a bad taste in a client’s mouth that they’ll look elsewhere for a GC on their next project. Why is project turnover messy? Many GCs shift project teams to new projects out of necessity as their current project enters the closeout phase. That leaves the initial project with fewer people that need to shoulder extra responsibility in order to meet their closeout deadline. As a result, the tedious process of contacting subcontractors to request closeout documents and then getting them reviewed often falls to the wayside to make time for more immediate tasks on the new project. That is, until the turnover package becomes an immediate task itself.  

Successful GCs use software like Pype Closeout to automate their closeout document collection process.

Successful GCs use software like Pype Closeout to automate their closeout document collection process. As soon as they have IFC specs, teams can start early by letting Pype Closeout automatically extract closeout requirements from those specs. As the project progresses, Closeout sends customized emails to trade partners as their scope of work gets completed in order to collect documents over time toward substantial completion.  

Not only does Closeout take over a time-consuming task when there’s a myriad of other tasks for project teams to complete, but the end result for the operations team is a manual that can be stored in the cloud—and thus much harder to misplace. To everyone’s benefit, the cloud-based turnover package includes an internally linked table of contents that can be used to instantly jump directly to the documents needed in the moment. This leaves a much better impression on the client, and because GC teams could devote that time to other closeout tasks—like the punch list—they provide a better deliverable overall. Watch the recorded webinar here.

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Work smarter, not harder 

General contractors are responsible for the smooth construction of contracted projects, which means any mistakes, delays, or cost overruns can easily land at their feet and threaten their cash flow. The processes to take on those challenges are constantly evolving as the industry evolves. Forward-thinking GCs are already adopting the technologies they need to stay competitive and not continually fall into these traps. With software like AutoSpecs, Autodesk Build, and Pype Closeout, GCs can give themselves that much more of an edge in an increasingly competitive market.

If you’d like a demo of Pype, please contact us. We’d love to show you how it improves the way you work.

The post 3 Avoidable Headaches for Construction Project Managers [Webinar] appeared first on Digital Builder.

Construction Management

7 Construction Industry Truths Made Clear at Autodesk University

Top takeaways from AU 2021

Every year, Autodesk University (AU) brings industry knowledge to light, leaving construction professionals from across the globe with a wealth of actionable insights. Across our 80+ construction sessions led by a powerhouse of industry leaders and experts, AU2021 revealed some undeniable truths about the future of the industry—and the trends impacting the economics of your business most. All recorded sessions are now available for viewing on the Autodesk University website.

Let’s take a look at the top takeaways from this year’s Autodesk University.

Jump to industry learning:

Great decisions require access to great dataTight collaboration during preconstruction equals better outcomesModern construction cost management relies on connected workflowsEducating and enabling project teams is critical to technology adoptionDiversity is one of construction’s biggest opportunitiesSustainable construction can make good business senseA change management strategy likely matters more than you think


1. Great decisions require access to great data

According to a recent global report made in partnership between Autodesk and FMI, decision-making based on “bad” data may have impacted upwards of $1.85 trillion in global construction industry costs in 2020. That includes $88.69 billion in rework alone. For a contractor doing $1 billion a year in revenue, this equates to over $7 million in avoidable rework. The report also revealed that data has doubled in the last three years, yet only about half of the survey respondents admitted to having a formal data strategy in place.

The “why” behind having good data is clear—making good decisions to empower better project outcomes and profitability. An excellent example of “how” to leverage good data is covered in the session, Data in the AEC Lifecycle: Using Data to Better Connect AECO Stakeholders

Image from AU session presentation for “Data in the AEC Lifecycle: Using Data to Better Connect AECO Stakeholders”

This Autodesk University session emphasizes the benefits of correctly using the enormous amount of data available to decision-makers and how to do so with a unified platform. Lauren Collier, Business Leader Project Technology & VDC for SSOE Group, leads this discussion by sharing how her firm is leveraging data in the real world. Sunny Manku, Technical Solutions Executive for Autodesk supports with deeper insight from the technical side. These two leaders in construction technology and digital transformation have over 30 years combined in the construction industry, and share a wealth of knowledge

Key learnings from related AU session

How collecting and using data through the lifecycle of a project can help teams stay on schedule and maintain costsThe potential value in analyzing data and how you can use it to drive better decision-makingThe additional infrastructure needs or talent required to be successful in life-cycle data collection & analysisThe importance of aggregating data across a connected cloud environment

“If you want to get started today, you can start running insight reports, PDF reports, scheduled exports, for your clients to start consuming that data in a really practical way.” —Lauren Collier, Business Leader Project Technology & VDC, SSOE Group

Watch the full video >


2. Tight collaboration during preconstruction equals better outcomes

For best results on any project, you should have your approach well-sorted before a shovel ever hits the ground. Collaborating early is the best way to avoid costly issues later. Forgive the crassness, but the old adage “proper planning prevents piss poor performance” couldn’t be more true.

Issues in BIM Collaborate
Image from AU session presentation for “BIM Collaborate: Bringing a Distributed Team Together”

In the AU session BIM Collaborate: Bringing the Distributed Team Together, technology leaders Matthew Anderle, Director of Digital Practice and Technology for AECOM, and Katherine Crowley, Project Coordinator for AECOM, walk through a sample project that reveals all the opportunities for collaboration that AECOM leans on to ensure successful project outcomes. They talk through common project workflows and discuss the best approach for migrating your next project to the cloud. They also discuss the differences between BIM Collaborate and BIM Collaborate PRO, its permission-enriched capabilities, and how to manage design collaboration across a distributed team.

Key learnings from related AU session

Insights into the enhanced capabilities of BIM Collaborate / BIM Collaborate ProHow to’s for leveraging permissions for document control and securityUnderstanding design collaboration workflows across a distributed teamBackground into integrated methodologies for tracking changes and model coordination review

“We were early adopters of [sic] BIM Collaborate, which has proven to be instrumental in managing project documentation throughout the project lifecycle. Of particular note is the role [it] played in our move to remote working in response to the pandemic.” —Katherine Crowley, Project Coordinator, AECOM

Watch the full video >


3. Modern construction cost management relies on connected workflows 

When it comes to managing cost activities and subsequent schedule impact, how you connect your financial data to the people who need it should be top priority. That’s why a resilient integration ecosystem is so important for whatever construction platform you’re using.

ERP Integrations with Autodesk Build
Image from AU session presentation for “ERP Integrations for Autodesk Construction Cloud”

In the session, ERP Integrations for Autodesk Construction Cloud speakers from Autodesk and hh2 Cloud Services come together to speak about integrations between Autodesk Construction Cloud (ACC) software and construction accounting applications. They share which ERPs integrate with Autodesk cost and how to make best use of those integrations.

Key learnings from related AU session

Autodesk Construction Cloud’s cost management capabilities and workflowsHow hh2’s integration between Sage CRE 300 and Autodesk Build worksHow to integrate Quickbooks Online with Autodesk Build using ACC ConnectWorkflow guidance on flexible budget structures, contract generation for commitments, collaborative change order workflows, and cash flow forecasting

“Cost management plays a significant role in managing how revenue and costs are accrued on your projects.” —Josh Cheney, Sr. Manager of Strategic Alliances, Autodesk

Watch the full video


4. Educating and enabling project teams is critical to technology adoption

Implementation of any new solution can be challenging, especially when you are changing the way people have been working for decades. Many see construction as an old-fashioned industry, but the fact that there is so much space for change is what makes it really exciting. Implementing and teaching these skills can be vital to a project’s success.

Implementing Autodesk Construction Cloud
Digital transformation flow image from AU session presentation session for “Implementing Autodesk Construction Cloud Across a £1.8billion Business”

In the industry talk, Implementing Autodesk Construction Cloud Across a £1.8billion BusinessIvana Tudja, BIM and Digital Construction Lead at Mace Group discusses how to introduce and implement Construction Cloud software from Autodesk across your business while inspiring your team to use it. 

Key learnings from related AU session

Learn how to develop a strategy for implementing Construction Cloud in your companyIdentify uses for different BIM 360 modules and the Assemble platformExplain how to use the product to improve coordination and drive efficiencies on-siteLearn about training requirements and how to deliver the right training for your users

“You can get everything else right, [but] unless your end users know how to use software, you won’t be able to move forward.” —Ivana Tudja, BIM & Digital construction Lead, Mace Group

Watch the full video


5. Diversity is one of construction’s biggest opportunities 

Creating a diverse and inclusive environment is something that every company should strive for. In your journey to doing so, you’ll enable new ways of solving old problems, unlock high-value mentorships, retain your best and brightest, ease impact of talent shortages, learn to balance inequities, and encourage unlikely groups to collaborate with impressive results. 

Diversity & Inclusion panel speakers
Panelists: Bruce Orr (top left), Neetha Puthran (top right), Clifton Cole (bottom left), Anton Dybuncio (bottom right)

In the panel Transformational Change Through Diversity and Inclusionindustry leading experts in technology, design and construction share their stories and insights on how diversity and inclusion will drive transformational change for the industry. You’ll walk away with a renewed appreciation for the fact that it’s the variety of expert experience that serves as a pillar to your success. Panelists dive into why diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are important for your business, how diversity and inclusion drives innovative results, and how leadership can play a direct role in cultivating a culture your organization can be proud of.

Key learnings from related AU session

Discover how to build an inclusive workplaceLearn how to implement strategies to develop a road map for DE&I excellenceLearn how to create opportunities for diversity in leadership rolesDiscover how DE&I can bring transformational change to our industry

“Be supportive, because that will motivate the champions and the people in the organization to keep pushing this through, because it benefits everyone.” —Anton Dybuncio, Co-Founder & COO, VIATechnik

Watch the full video >


6. Sustainable construction can make good business sense

The subject of sustainable construction is an ongoing conversation that every AECO stakeholder should be mindful of. Sustainable construction not only affects costs, waste and carbon emissions, but empowers innovators to shape today’s communities and future generations.

Sustainable construction, Autodesk University
Image from AU session presentation for “Using Technology and Software to Create More-Sustainable Designs”

One industry session of note is Using Technology and Software to Create More-Sustainable Designs. May Winfield, Global Director of Commercial, Legal, and Digital Risks at Buro Happold discusses how implementing processes, documentation, and software can help support more sustainable and environmentally friendly design. She shares lessons Buro Happold has learned regarding how to effectively use technology to achieve these aims.

Key learnings from related AU session

Discover the contract terms or documentation that will support and require more-sustainable design, processes, and practicesLearn about implementing technology and improved processes that produce more-sustainable design, processes, and practicesLearn how to implement internal processes and documentation to improve sustainability in working practicesAssess how your organization can successfully implement a more sustainability-focused ethos and design processes

“It’s not just moral aspects that make this important. It also makes business sense. … When [McKinsey] ‘asked 100 senior executives what trends expected to accelerate due to COVID, 53% cited sustainability.’” —May Winfield, Global Director of Commercial, Legal, and Digital Risks, Buro Happold

Watch the full video >


7. A change management strategy likely matters more than you think

In an enlightening industry talk, Successful Digital Transformation Through a Product Management Organization (PdMO)technology experts Dace Campbell and Anna Lee, both from McKinstry, share how PdMO, as a strategic organization, helps to drive digital transformation. 

PdMO, Digital Transformation
Image from AU session presentation for “Successful Digital Transformation Through a Product Management Organization”

You’ll learn how to ensure alignment between the technical road map and business needs while being able to effectively measure the impact of deployed technology. Overall, the PdMO’s framework for innovation to implement new technology on live projects supports digital transformation with minimal business disruption.

Key learnings from related AU session

Discover how PdMO enables more agility and adaptability to meet the needs of an evolving market and converging industriesLearn how to develop and implement product road maps to prioritize and manage a portfolio of cross-enterprise initiativesDiscover best practices for change management to ensure you meet the needs of the business without distracting themLearn about how an industry-agnostic approach enables application of best practices and lessons learned across industries

“Technologists risk pushing emerging [construction] technology into business operations without addressing real world needs, causing an organization to chase shiny pennies that seem attractive at first, but lack buy-in or staying power as a valid long-term solution.” —Dace Campbell, Director of Product Management in Construction, McKinstry

Watch the full video >


Ready for more expert-led education from Autodesk University?

You can check out all the best sessions from Autodesk University 2021 on our website. We’ve only scratched the surface here, but with on-demand sessions and a treasure trove of expert-led education, rest assured you won’t be waiting for progress. You’ll make it.

Explore all of this year’s sessions on the Autodesk University website.

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