Trade Secrets: 4 Success Strategies from Leading MEP Contractors

top strategies mep contractors

Among all of the systems on construction projects, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems are the most complex to design, build, and operate. These systems must be designed by specialized contractors and require careful coordination to meet installation, operation, and maintenance requirements. In addition, the nature of these systems presents multiple challenges such as spatial interferences, interdisciplinary coordination, and recurring tasks associated with long-term maintenance.

While MEP systems certainly present challenges, contractors can deploy innovative strategies and technologies to overcome them. In this article, you’ll learn some of the top strategies for overcoming MEP system challenges from leading specialty contractors. 

1. Kirby Group Engineering: The Power of Standardization

Kirby Group Engineering (Kirby), a mechanical and electrical engineering contractor with over 1,000 employees, works with clients across Europe in the life sciences, data centers, industrial manufacturing, substations and renewables, and commercial sectors. With a rapidly growing global footprint, Kirby wanted to find ways to scale operations while maintaining its commitment to safety and quality. 

Working closely with Autodesk, the team identified manual and fragmented processes they wanted to digitize, which were time-consuming, difficult to replicate, and prevented collaboration with stakeholders and customers. Kirby and Autodesk mapped out the end-to-end project delivery journey. And uncovered ways to make processes digital and connected by deploying BIM 360 within Autodesk Construction Cloud  to create a unified, single source of information, eliminating manual workflows. 

To fully embed the technology and get their teams up and running on the new system, they created ‘The Kirby Way.’ This approach trains staff on delivering projects through collaboration and world-class processes. Autodesk provided training solutions for The Kirby Academy, focusing on applying technology to processes to deliver the best possible outcomes for clients. 

Ultimately, digitizing processes helped deliver better outcomes for Kirby, saving over 20,000 hours on construction activity, improving project efficiencies, increasing the reliability of project data, and enhancing stakeholder collaboration. By digitizing and standardizing these processes, Kirby Engineering was able to improve productivity, increase replicability, and gather important insights around performance. 

2. Helm Mechanical: Leveraging Technology for Lean Workflows

Headquartered in Freeport, Illinois, Helm Mechanical is a specialty contracting firm that specializes in the pharmaceutical, bio-engineering, food manufacturing, automotive, and healthcare industries. Helm Mechanical prioritizes delivering turn-key projects through a value-based approach. To produce highly complex projects that meet cost, schedule, and quality standards, Helm Mechanical prioritizes delivering turn-key projects through a value-based approach that combines leading-edge technology with lean construction principles.

This innovative contractor has always focused on adopting the latest technologies to increase efficiencies. However, Helm Mechanical found that its team was experiencing “application fatigue” and worried about data silos preventing collaboration. They reached out to Autodesk to deploy a common data environment and simplify data across the project life cycle. 

By adopting BIM 360 within Autodesk Construction Cloud, Helm Mechanical reduced the time teams spent hunting down information and increased their ability to gather insights from data. To make the software as accessible as possible, they developed a workflow and a training module to get teams up to speed. 

BIM 360 also helped Helm Mechanical improve coordination and data-sharing behind the fabrication process. Prefabrication is essential to meet tight deadlines as labor can take place off-site in a controlled environment. With BIM 360, the accuracy of the fabrication is so high that once the materials arrive on-site, the only thing left to do is install it. 

3. D&E Air Conditioning: Connecting Data for Predictive Maintenance

For some construction firms, integrating technology into their tech stacks is critical to improving the customer experience. D&E Air Conditioning (D&E), an Australian-based construction mechanical services company, has over 500 employees and clients in the pharmaceutical, commercial, healthcare, and industrial industries. D&E wanted to digitize its service maintenance program into a predictive maintenance program with improved service capabilities. 

The predictive maintenance program leverages data to predict when assets will need maintenance support. This capability would eliminate unnecessary equipment checks while conserving resources. It also allows D&E to take a more proactive approach to services for their clients by minimizing downtime and costs. 

To establish its predictive maintenance program, D&E adopted BIM 360 within the Autodesk Construction Cloud as its mobile computerized maintenance solution based on its intuitive interface and powerful reporting capabilities. 

Next, D&E standardized processes to improve the consistency of jobsite data to move toward predictive capabilities. They achieved the digitization of the process by reviewing industry and national compliance standards and individual maintenance specifications. This information was then used to create new-tasking for the three main types of maintenance: compliance, preventative, and reactive. 

D&E deployed BIM 360 Ops across 20 sites in seven months due to positive feedback from technicians. By standardizing processes through the solution, D&E improved documentation organization to drive decision-making and communicate the most up-to-date reports to clients. 

4. Cannistraro: Innovating through Prefabrication 

In the world of mechanical construction, Cannistraro is synonymous with innovation. The Boston-based firm was an early adopter of lean principles and construction technology. Cannistraro’s focus on cutting-edge solutions has fueled its success in prefabrication, which allows Cannistraro to meet aggressive deadlines on complex projects while remaining within budget and scope.

Cannistraro’s team leverages BIM 360 within Autodesk Construction Cloud to quickly share information in real-time to drive improvements. The team also uses BIM 360 to collaborate across designers, fabricators, contractors, owners, and engineers. Navisworks helps to provide visibility into project scope, logistics, and requirements. BIM 360 assists with 3D model coordination, constructability reviews, and on-site installation. The team also relies on the solution to automate recurring tasks at the fabrication site.

Prefabrication is a definite win for Cannistraro. For example, on a recent multi-use project, they cut deliveries, shaved two weeks off the schedule, decreased material handling and field hours while generating 13% cost savings on materials.

How MEP Contractors Can Harness Software to Improve Project Success

Construction projects today are riddled with complexities, tight timelines, and multiple moving parts. This couldn’t be truer for MEP contractors who have detailed, complex systems to design, build, and operate. To achieve project success, MEP contractors can lean on streamlined workflows and purpose-built technological solutions. In our ebook, you’ll learn how to build a comprehensive strategy around these solutions to generate better business outcomes. Read the ebook now to learn more


Grace Ellis

As Manager of Content Marketing Strategy at Autodesk and Editor in Chief of the Digital Builder Blog, Grace has nearly 15 years of experience creating world-class content for technology firms. She has been working within the construction technology space for the last 6+ years and is passionate about empowering industry professionals with cutting-edge tools and leading strategies that improve the quality of their jobs and lives.