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3 Construction Data Gaps That Can Sink a VDC Project

MEP design and detailing jobs are technically complex and challenging, even under the best circumstances. Detailers must generate models that precisely reflect what your company is contracted to build. Their work can help ensure a steady flow of projects, preserve profits and win repeat business for your company. However, detailers often lack access to accurate data, connected workflows and the tools needed to efficiently deliver reliable outputs for downstream work. 

Are your Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) projects falling victim to these common data gaps? 

  1. Equipment Submittals

Once the contract is awarded, the race is on to conduct an engineering review, shop materials, and place orders for equipment and prepare equipment submittals. VDC professionals must accurately determine the point of connection, dimensions and considerations needed to create fabrication drawings of the contractor's services to the equipment. With a high density of fittings and labor required, the stakes are high.

Consider a rooftop air handler with corridor piping. While this is generally simple, piping to the air handler, with branches that feed every room in the building, has a high number of fittings, sensors and gauges, requiring a significant amount of labor. Without the right data on hand, how will detailers and craft labor know what to design and then fabricate? Without every single specification surrounding the contractor's services to the equipment, fabrication drawings have no value. Even one missing dimension, part or coordinated specification will lead to inaccuracies that result in re-work and waste, in addition to the cost associated with lost labor hours.

Other impactful decisions such as material selections and equipment connections can delay detailing. On the leading edge of fabrication and field labor efforts, detailers must search for data and collect it from other teams. Often they race to get 80 percent complete, but fall behind in executing the last 20 percent, which is disruptive and expensive.

  1. Project Schedules 

In the preconstruction phase, the project schedule is often a more abstract plan of attack. However, when contracts are awarded they have a lot of implications and require more evaluation. This kicks off the long process of reviewing, providing feedback and buying into the project schedule as subcontractors learn the delivery dates of long lead items. They propose sequence or duration changes to the construction manager to suggest value engineering alternatives, increase offsite prefabrication or accommodate lagging delivery dates.  

With several subcontractors engaging in this process simultaneously, the schedule is in constant flux during the project's first few weeks. Amid this uncertainty, detailers often work on an area for a couple of weeks only to learn that, due to circumstances beyond their control, another area of the project has taken a higher priority. Detailers must be flexible enough to pivot as the project plan evolves. It's a disruptive and inefficient turn of events that  increase project risk through miscommunication, redundancies, clashes and even the inadvertent undermining of strategic decisions.

  1. Subcontractor Coordination

In the same vein, contract managers have the challenge of descoping, awarding projects to the subcontractors, writing in the specific qualifications included in the bids of their respective contracts, and awarding the key contracts as quickly as possible.

Often gaps are identified in the descoping process, and the original plan to award the mechanical or electrical contractor is delayed by weeks or even months. When this happens, the most critical aspects of coordination can't begin until all players are on board. Or worse, decisions are made for expediency. When subcontractors finally get an opportunity to participate in the coordination process, their request for changes often stalls the progress of work already underway.

How to Overcome Data Gaps in VDC Projects 

Detailing professionals are masters of organizing and communicating small details, but despite their skill, the sheer amount of information makes the job difficult. Closing these data gaps requires cloud-based, connected detailing solutions that streamline workflows, drive efficiency and ensure all stakeholders can access the information they need when they need it. 

Trimble’s MEP VDC Pro+ and Project MEP solutions are purpose-built for MEP detailers. VDC Pro+ relies on SysQue to provide detailers with accurate geometry and the real-world specification information for creating real-life, constructible Revit models that feed workflows beyond design. Project MEP leverages ProjectSight to allow MEP contractors to manage RFIs, submittals, change orders and more from anywhere, at any time. To learn more about how VDC Pro+ and Project MEP are closing these common data gaps click here to schedule a demo.

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