Prefabrication continues to advance and provide time, cost and labour advantages when compared to traditional methods of construction. Prefabricated MEP modules – that is, mechanical, electrical and plumbing modules – are constructed off-site and include various components such as ductwork, electrical containment and equipment such as busbar and switchboards, pipework and plant equipment.
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is just one of the methods that has helped transform prefabricated MEP modules into a more practical, high quality and budget-friendly construction method. Utilising proven DfMA design principles and processes within BIM can combine with fabrication to enable engineering workflows allowing for accurate MEP coordination and drawings.
What is MEP and what does a prefabricated MEP module include?
According to Wikipedia, “Mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) refers to these aspects of building design and construction. In commercial buildings, these elements are often designed by a specialized engineering firm. MEP’s design is important for planning, decision-making, accurate documentation, performance- and cost-estimation, construction, and operating/maintaining the resulting facilities. MEP specifically encompasses the in-depth design and selection of these systems, as opposed to a tradesperson simply installing equipment.“
A typical MEP module includes a system of structural and seismic certified steel frames that include Plug & Play technologies such as pipework, cable management, and ductwork for building services. Modules can vary in size, according to the building application, and are prefabricated in an off-site facility prior to being transported to the construction site for installation. Modules are then typically installed by fixing to the ceiling, beneath the floor, in service risers or in plant spaces before being connected to the mains.
Why pre-planning and design are critical in prefabricated MEP modules
To minimise the need for rework and redesigning of services, a technically precise and feasible design needs to be prepared. This is where Building Information Modelling (BIM) plays a critical role. Most importantly, choosing to adobe the prefabrication of building services early-on in a construction project is critical, allowing engineers the best opportunity to efficiently prepare designs and the best solution for each project.
The process of creating MEP modules
As we’ve already mentioned, technically precise design is a necessity and the early adoption of prefabricated building services aides this greatly. At EVO-MEP we adopt a four stage process in prefabricated MEP modules as follows –
Advantages of prefabricated MEP modules
Some of the advantages associated with prefabricated MEP modules include:
- Faster– one week in a prefab facility is the equivalent to three weeks on site. Fewer weather disruptions, reduced defects and rework can also help reduce construction times by 20 – 60%.
- Eco-Friendly– prefabricated building services and modules are sustainable, energy efficient and eliminate on-site waste. With 50% of the world’s landfill waste coming from construction and 30% of materials delivered to site ending up in waste, every effort should be made to reduce our industry’s impact on the environment.
- Reduced Costs– fast construction times allows clients to occupy site and generate income sooner, reducing site overheads as less time is spent on site. Cost efficiencies can also be gained through reduced labour and over-time requirements.
- Quality– experienced workforce with multiple quality checks in a controlled environment help to ensure the highest quality. A study conducted by the Chalmers University of Technology that construction waste from defects and checks account for more than 10% of a project’s production cost.
- Safety – not only are workers protected from environmental elements, the exposure to working at height or confined spaces such as riser shafts is greatly minimised. According to BuildOffSite, workplace health and safety incidents could be reduced by up to 80% by using off-site manufacturing methods.
- Minimised site disruption– by prefabricating MEP modules off-site, it reduces the number of trades and workers required on site, therefore reducing vehicular traffic, noise, pollution and waste.
- Project Cost and Time Certainty – a result of detailed design and coordination.
For more information regarding the prefabrication of MEP modules and building services, please leave a comment below or contact us directly.