MEP Force 2020 is the only conference that’s focused entirely on Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) trades. Put on by our friends at Applied Software, this year’s conference was held virtually and was a great way to network with our peers and learn about the latest tech and prefabrication trends.
During the conference's Virtual Happy Hour, BIM Designs' Head of Sales, Steve Couch, demonstrated how to properly dice an onion, so that you get a perfect dice every time. To see how he did it, watch the video below, and for more key takeaways from MEP Force 2020, continue reading the rest of our blog.
Here are a few things that our team highlighted during MEP Force 2020:
Mark Siebert, Senior FAB Specialist from Applied Software presented an interesting discussion on evolving mechanical annotations. He made the point that preparing the settings the way the project dictates, first, saves a lot of time when cleaning up spools. That may seem like a no-brainer but it’s surprising how many times most companies must revise their settings mid-project. This can have a significant impact on production pathways and timelines.
James Simpson is a Project Manager at eVolve MEP and echoed Siebert’s thoughts. He recommends fully mapping out the workflow to start with your internal process and incorporate each client criteria for their external process. Streamline anything that can be streamlined and make sure to communicate, listen for feedback, and keep an open mind. The sooner you can detect any potential conflicts, the easier they will be to address. Problems downstream can get magnified.
A Comprehensive MEP Workflow
Chris Hronek, Sheet Metal Worker at Tweet/Garot Mechanical, Inc. and Patrick Fernbach, Lead Mechanical Engineering Associate and Software Engineer at Kohrs Lonnemann Heil Engineers, Inc. (KLH Engineers) emphasized the importance of building jobs based on the model. It’s important to not pit engineers versus contractors as both are crucial to the success of the project. Design/Build works better if everyone is onboard and communicating regularly.
- Establish rules and responsibilities
- Make a plan to leverage the strengths of team members
- Have an open-door policy to leverage relationships among team members
- Create settings where casual conversations can lead to collaboration
It’s too easy, they said, to develop “crap in, crap out” models without careful planning and attention.
Know Your Roles
In a second session, James Simpson from eVolve MEP emphasized how important it is for your teams to know your roles. If you have wrong people working in the wrong roles, this can lead to your best employees being overworked which will eventually make them want to leave or will leave.
- Who are your players?
- Where do they fit into your process?
- Are there overlaps or gaps?
Overlaps are an indication that talent is being wasted when multiple people are assigned to fulfill the same tasks. Gaps show where your stop-gap solutions are and where you can improve. He recommends that you shake things up if you notice problems to avoid killing morale or risk losing key employees.
Speak the Same Language
In Day 2’s recap panel (that you can listen to on the award winning Bridging the Gap podcast), several speakers reemphasized one of the problems facing the evolving MEP industry: shared information. Nathan Wood, Founder & Chief Enabling Officer at SpectrumAEC, discussed the need to get everyone speaking the same language. It’s easy to get caught up in the technology and terminology and wind-up with information silos that exclude key pieces of information from key personnel. If you’re looking to establish a MEP culture, you need to define the terms so that everyone speaks a common language.
James Simpson from eVolve MEP pointed out that there are often missing links in the workflow. When you’re tracking fabrication, for example, there’s significant communication downstream in the field but you may have a disconnect with purchasing. While the right software will address this, it’s not going to solve communication efforts if you don’t use it properly. That starts with your people. It’s more about the people and using the technology rather than matching people to the technology, according to Applied Software’s Todd Weyandt.
Find Your Champion
Effective software implementation needs champions to drive implementation. While the adoption of software and its proper uses are key ingredients of a training process, it’s not going to work without key team members that will serve as champions. Culture starts at the top of the organization. Top executives must embrace and support the use of the software. Also, though, it takes frontline workers to drive the message home and optimize performance.
Nathan Wood, expressed that companies need to fully understand what data matters, how to get the necessary data, and who should have access. If you don’t understand that, he said, no software will be able to create an efficient solution.
A Holistic View
Managing the process takes a holistic view. It takes a comprehensive MEP workflow. Rules, roles, and responsibilities must be mapped out in advance. Team members must know their roles and speak the same language to communicate effectively. And finally, it takes clear leadership from the top executives to direct key frontline workers for successful workflows.
About BIM Designs, Inc.
BIM Designs Inc. is an agile BIM detailing, modeling, consulting, and coordination service provider. We work closely with architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) contractors and developers that require experienced journeymen detailers and engineers for Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, and Fire Protection (MEPF) modeling, Laser Scanning, and Virtual Design Construction (VDC) services. BIM Designs, Inc. is a signatory with 18 UA and SMART unions in multiple states.
About the Author
Mark, CEO, joined the BIM Designs team with over 10 years of experience working with Silicon Valley tech companies in product management, business development, mergers and acquisitions, and CxO roles. Mark leads the growth, strategy and execution of the company; his acute ability to develop and implement strategic processes that scale the company's capabilities drives efficient service delivery, increases client satisfaction, and builds cross-functional teams.