MEP Prefabrication Drawings: Top 5 Challenges and Best Practices


MEP prefabrication drawings help contractors and fabricators manufacture accurate MEP equipment for hassle-free onsite installation. Connecting various MEP systems in the field requires precision manufacturing.

Depending on the project scale, geography and team, MEP engineers and contractors must integrate BIM workflows with prefabrication. Projects challenged by weather or transportation can leverage offsite fabrication under controlled conditions and clean workshops.

Working with prefabricated components makes construction more efficient. However, it requires model-based prefab drawings and precise MEP services for fabricators to ensure proper planning of prefab MEP components. Without the right set of MEP prefabrication drawings, it would be difficult for MEP professionals and contractors to keep pace.

Flawless creation of MEP systems or modules requires a design that is feasible and accurate. Fabricators manufacturing MEP modules are dependent on coordinated MEP module drawings, shop drawings, and spool drawings. Modules are classified into 3 types - horizontal ceiling, vertical risers, and plant modules.

Furthermore, the design of pre-fabricated MEP drawings is challenging for complex and large-scale buildings or facilities.

Top 5 challenges faced while creating MEP fabrication drawings

  • Inaccurate structural and MEP data

    Logging wrong structural requirements for MEP modules including weight and load calculations can create ambiguities for structural personnel. Incorrect dimensions or tolerances in prefabrication drawings lead to faulty MEP component manufacturing and onsite clashes.

  • Wrongful set of shop drawings or spool drawings

    The use of unapproved shop drawings for MEP modules by project engineers leads to clashes, rework, and project delays.
  • Ambiguous use of module supports

    Inaccurate use of module supports for components to connect and bridge mechanical systems can lead to design and onsite construction problems.
  • Improper design of support systems

    Heavy support system design in prefabrication drawings leads to greater structure loads and higher material wastage.
  • Lack of required support frames

    The absence of smaller and flexible supporting frames, dependent overhead support, and unlinked modules lead to inaccurate fabrication and installation.

Clash-free and coordinated drawings can help clients gain 50% in cost savings and 40% in production schedules.

Top 5 benefits of MEP prefabrication drawings for construction workflows

  • Deviation tracking with agile comparisons

    Model-based prefabrication drawings are coordinated and clash-free. Agile comparisons between various data points like 3D models and drawings help fabricators and contractors to derive comparative results for greater constructability.
  • Greater prefabrication insights through streamlined drawing interpretation

    Fabricators can leverage improved prefabrication insights through coordinated and interference-free MEP prefabrication drawings. This helps manufacturers prefabricate accurate MEP components or equipment for quick and hassle-free installation.
  • Accurate and detailed installation information to reduce rework and budget overruns

    The existence of detailed information for MEP equipment such as name, part number, dimensions, location, etc. through model-extracted prefabrication drawings reduces costly rework. Insights derived from accurate, complete, and clash-free prefabrication drawings assist contractors to minimize material waste and diminish budget overruns.

A residential building construction project in the US required an MEP 3D model and construction drawings as a business need. The team at Hitech CADD Services created a 3D MEP model at LOD 400 with extracted construction drawings. The coordinated and clash-free 3D model helped the client drive flawless fabrication and installation of MEP systems. This reduced rework, leading to cost and time savings.

Read the case study

mep 3d modeling

  • Accurate geometry based on dimensions, specs, and customization for precise prefabrication

    Revit-based 3D models are spatially accurate. The extraction of prefabrication-ready drawings based on accurate dimensions, specs, and customization makes the prefabrication process easier and streamlined.
  • High-quality modules create minimal installation disruption onsite

    Prefabricated modules manufactured following best practices for MEP prefabrication drawings are dimensionally accurate. These modules can be installed without hard or soft clashes which leads to diminished onsite disruption.

Top 5 best practices to achieve successful MEP prefabrication

Accurate and detailed MEP information for horizontal ceiling

Providing precise horizontal ceiling space for MEP components or equipment drives lower space loss, quick and easy installation, soundproofing, etc. A systematic list of MEP equipment needs to be included in the horizontal ceiling that is supported by industry guidelines.

An accurate checklist of MEP components in an exposed or suspended horizontal ceiling reduces installation costs, increases energy efficiency, minimizes MEP space, and more. Accurate spool drawings need to be extracted for fabricators to achieve manufacturing precision.

Flawless MEP prefabrication drawings for vertical risers

Vertical risers are predominantly categorized as ducts, pipes, and conduits. MEP contractors must make sure these components are manufactured accurately for unhindered installation. Prefabrication of vertical risers offsite based on model-based prefabrication drawings saves costs, increases site approvals, improves worker safety, and improves construction efficiency.

DFMA drawings of risers with mechanical, pipework, or electrical components with equipment schedules, codes, and representation welds to maximize installation effectiveness.

Following best practices to follow for vertical risers in MEP prefabrication drawings include:

  • Riser modules need to be shown at a horizontal ground level to be connected with various floors.
  • Riser modules need to be installed before assembling walls that include riser shafts.
  • Riser modules in prefabrication drawings need to include brackets and lifting lugs.


Precise prefabrication drawings of plant modules for pre-assembly, pre-wiring, and installation

Plant modules need to be modeled accurately for contractors to extract accurate prefabrication drawings. Modular plants or steel frameworks include process equipment, instrumentation, valves, piping, and electrical wiring. Prefabrication drawings for MEP plant modules reduce safety concerns during construction and simplify component modification.

MEP prefabrication drawings for plant modules include every component or equipment for plant modules along with changes or alterations, fabrication information, dimensions, and placement information for installation.


BIM skillsets and qualified drafting

Best practices to generate accurate and high-quality prefabrication MEP drawings also include hiring BIM skillsets and qualified drafters for precise drawing services. Good quality MEP prefabrication drawings showcase every piece of information that is needed for part manufacturing or assembly.

Precise material specifications, tolerances, weld locations, bend lines, sub-assemblies, part numbers, specifications, angles, BOMs, etc. need to be included before actual fabrication or installation begins.


Communication and collaboration between designers, contractors, and fabricators

To produce excellent quality MEP prefabrication drawings, a certain degree of coordination needs to be achieved between various trades. Coordinating with architects, manufacturers, and structural engineers to create these drawings supports quick feedback and solutions for raised queries.

A construction company from Malta outsourced its requirements for healthcare construction to Hitech CADD Services. With 2D MEP drawings delivered as input, MEP coordination drawings and 3D models were required deliverables. 3D MEP models were generated and coordination drawings were extracted to help clients make better decisions and drive hassle-free installation.

Read the case study

mep coordination drawings

Workflow to develop MEP prefabrication drawings

  • Schematic or conceptual design

Conceptual designs or schematics are developed by MEP consultants for unique trades based on architecture and structure layout.

  • Design enhancements

MEP contractors and prefabricators further enhance the design through clash-free and coordinated models.

  • Detailed information

Model-extracted drawings contain complete information on MEP component dimensions, specs, assemblies, orientation, and location.

  • Coordinated and clash-free model

A coordinated and clash-free model with elevations is generated by integrating various BIM models.

  • Drawing review

Review of MEP coordinated drawings by MEP contractors and consultants.

  • Enrichment of coordinated drawings

Coordinated drawings are reinforced with supporting frames, corners, and flanges for prefabrication and installation.


Conclusion

While modular construction is on the rise, Pre-fabrication construction is crucial for the installation of prefabricated MEP systems. MEP systems can be installed without any interruptions through accurate, complete, and high-quality prefabricated MEP CAD drawings.

Generating detailed drawings from 3D BIM models ensure precise planning and execution for contractors for MEP prefabrication. Outsourcing projects for clash-free prefabrication drawings by a professional BIM service provider ensures quick identification and resolution of MEP conflicts in the preconstruction stage.


Authored by:

Harika Singh is an academician and published writer. Her passion for engineering and technology reflects in the in-depth coverage she provides on technology trends. 20 years of work association with institutes of repute across India and the US positions her to provide valuable insights to business stakeholders on achieving scalability and operational efficiencies through digitalization.