AutoCAD MEP software helps bring problem project back on track

Having become involved in a working project that was suffering co-ordination problems, Fulcro Engineering Services was able to use AutoCAD software to help put things right quickly.We believe there are too many unknown and, therefore, unquantifiable activities that get ignored in planning projects — and these evolve into additional costs,’ says James Weston, design co-ordinator with Fulcro Engineering Services. Many companies say they offer solutions rather than just products or services. However, Fulcro takes this claim seriously and has gone the extra mile to develop its systems, people, processes and technology to ensure that its service to clients delivers the total package. For example, Fulcro has been determined to make the best use of the latest technology and has invested in AutoCAD MEP for the design and documentation of building-services projects. The software is helping the company’s designers and engineers to work faster — and also ensure better co-ordination of mechanical, electrical and plumbing services. Fulcro is also pioneering in the way it creates digital prototypes of complete projects early enough to establish not just validity and compliance but also proactive design optimisation. Process-driven approach Fulcro is based near Stratford-upon-Avon and provides management and design support and technical skills to the architectural, engineering and construction industry. Forward-looking and dynamic, it is also structured and thorough in its approach — identifying that the increasing complexity of building projects demands rigorous processes and methods to ensure stringent control. ‘We’ve identified that the effective and profitable use of IT involves more than just investing in new software,’ says James Weston. ‘Therefore, we’ve taken an open-minded attitude to reviewing and refining these processes to ensure the best efficiencies can be passed on to our clients. Through this approach, IT has driven the business and re-modelled the way we manage and co-ordinate designs.’ This exploitation of IT has been particularly evident on a recent project for a 4200 m2 Marks and Spencer store in Preston. The client, AC Engineering, came to Fulcro after it already suffered a number of issues on site. ‘Consequently, both time and patience were short,’ adds James Weston. ‘The lack of co-ordination had already wasted money, and the pressure was on to make up for lost time.’ To make the situation even more challenging, changes to the design were being made all the time.’ Using AutoCAD MEP (formerly Autodesk Building Systems), Fulcro was able to take contractors’ 2D AutoCAD drawings and create a digital model of the entire project. Rather than spending a large amount of client money by re-creating every 2D drawing, the company could adjust and change the model and be sure that every other part of the design would automatically update. The information received was not of great quality and relying on it would have resulted in a lot of expensive re-work on site. However, Fulcro obtained the required details and enhanced existing data rather than having to re-create it all over again.
Having been called in to help resolve co-ordination issues on a large project in Preston, Fulcro Engineering Services was able to import existing 2D AutoCAD drawings into AutoCAD MEP to create a digital model of the entire project, eliminating the need for re-creating every 2D drawing and saving considerable amounts of time.
Problems were solved using AutoCAD MEP and applying techniques such as swapping catalogue products, shortening and lengthening runs of duct and pipework and making other adjustments on screen without having to start again completely. AutoCAD MEP is a design and construction documentation solution for building services engineers, designers and draughters and is based on AutoCAD. It helps increase productivity, accuracy and co-ordination by maximising the efficiency of AutoCAD-based engineering workflow and minimising co-ordination errors between mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering design teams as well as with architects and structural engineers. The real value of the software was evident when solving the co-ordination of the sprinklers with other parts of the design. Through necessity, Fulcro had to adjust the design in a way that surprised the sprinkler contractor, using a digital model at a client meeting to demonstrate the problem and explain a strategy. The problem had not been apparent on a single service drawing, but when the design was shown as a virtual prototype it was evident to everyone that it had to be changed. Culture change Although this single-model approach was a culture change for the client, the co-ordinated model was completed in three to four weeks and the client was more than happy with the results — so much so that it has approached Fulcro about several other large projects. In general, Fulcro is confident that the use of AutoCAD MEP has increased efficiency, reduced timescales and saved costs.
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