5 Challenges of Working With MEP Content

March 5, 2019 Stefan van Eerde

Whether you're a detailer working on BIM projects or a manufacturer facilitating such workflows, you may have wondered: "Why is it so time-consuming and complicated to create and manage high-quality MEP content?"

And once created, why does the content seem to become instantly outdated or obsolete? Wouldn’t it be easiest if everyone just creates content and stores it in one single place? A place in the cloud for example?

 

5 reasons why the cloud isn’t the (full) answer

Admittedly, it sounds great: having one place where all data is kept and can be retrieved from. But the main purpose of content is representing actual building products, so it needs to be accurate, up-to-date and of high quality. And for this, simply storing the content in the cloud is not enough. Here’s why:

 

  1. Content is susceptible to change

Content is susceptible to change. So once content is created, someone needs to make sure it stays up-to-date. Who makes sure it keeps representing the actual product offered by the manufacturer? A third party? Or the manufacturer himself?

Having one place where all content is stored and managed by a third party improves the likelihood that the content stays up-to-date. Simply because there are (external) specialists dedicated to keeping the content relevant. But even though this improves the chance of keeping it up-to-date, it is not the complete solution.

 

2. The manufacturer holds the truth

Content should always originate from the manufacturer’s database, which is the true source of content. With far more advanced (and confidential) information enriching the BIM representations created today, you cannot blindly rely on a third party platform. There always needs to be a link (or at least a regular check) between the content and the manufacturer's database. This is the true source where the content has been created or at least has been authorized, holding the latest article information and updates.

 

Are you currently building your own content? Find out if it’s worth the expense.



3. Content is always a representation

As the term representation indicates, BIM content should only be as close to the actual product as necessary. By its very nature, BIM content cannot and should not be a 100% copy. It would only make models unnecessarily heavy and complex. Or even impossible to handle by engineers and designers working on large-scale projects. That’s why manufacturers need to know which information is needed by MEP engineers to do their work. Which leads us to the following point:

 

4. Specialized knowledge is required

It takes quite some time to develop a BIM model for a new product. That’s why manufacturers need the help of specialists who know how to build content: small in size, easy to use by the engineer, in compliance with important international standards and still a truthful representation of the actual products. Something manufacturers can try to build themselves but does not always result in the best possible outcome. Doing something right takes time.

The content creation workflow specialists at MEPcontent use to create content for manufacturers

 

5. Building Product Manufacturers need feedback

How do building product manufacturers know if the created content does what modelers need it to? Solid and reliable feedback is needed from people who actually use the BIM content in their project. For this, manufacturers need to reach out to a community of MEP engineers and designers using high-quality BIM content. To provide users with a way to get in contact with content partners for what they really need.

Managed content platforms like MEPcontent bring manufacturers and engineers together. So when a user sees outdated content or is missing content, he can contact the manufacturer through the community about the importance of the content. This way, users can get the right content on the platform, while their feedback helps manufacturers drive additional sales and enter new markets.

 

The key to constructible content

In order to successfully realize constructible models, MEP designers and detailers need to work with accurate and high-quality content. Content that’s easy to download, easy to use in projects and helps them do their daily jobs and deliver results. Content that can be built into reality.

Building your own content, either as an engineer or as a manufacturer, and storing it in one single place might sound like a solution, but you’re mainly diluting the actual issue instead of actually solving it.

So, in order to ensure truly constructible content creation and successful distribution, there needs to be a system in place to:

  • Safeguard content quality by working with specialists

  • Stay aware of the content developments by joining the community

  • Keep the content up-to-date

Only this way, engineers can work with truly constructible content. Content that contains information that is so accurate, you can build from it.

 

Finding the right balance

For manufacturers, the key is to consider carefully where and how content is created and shared and find a balance between dependency and versioning risks. Processes for reflection and keeping content up-to-date must be developed. This way, they can deliver accurate and high-quality content to engineers and designers globally. 

Specialists such as the MEPcontent factory offer services that help with these processes. So that both manufacturers and MEP designers reap the fruits from the efforts put into content creation. Let’s make it worth the effort.

 

Download our free guide and learn how to manage MEP content for your constructible models.

 

About the Author

Stefan van Eerde

Stefan is the Global Demand Generation Manager for Trimble MEP.

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