Issue 03, Oct 2020

Modular Construction of Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) Systems –
New Technologies to Boost Productivity and Quality

Innovation is key to competitiveness in the Electrical and Mechanical (E&M) industry. As a company that has long been a leader in applying new technologies to projects, ATAL has brought greater efficiency, quality and worker safety to clients. In recent years, the company has focused on using Building Information Modelling (BIM) and modularisation of mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems in its building services works.

“ATAL is an early adopter of BIM and MEP modularisation in Hong Kong and has inhouse teams with rich experience in both technologies,” says Brian Cheng, Chief Executive of Building Services Engineering.

BIM is an intelligent 3D model-based process that gives architecture, engineering, and construction professionals the insight and tools to more efficiently plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure. BIM also contains a vast amount of project information which can be readily exchanged with other parties involved, enabling a highly efficient workflow for a much more dynamic and synchronised approach to project management.

MEP modularisation is a meticulous, well-sequenced process where MEP systems are prefabricated, inspected and commissioned off-site, greatly boosting efficiency. As most work processes are transferred to an off-site factory where conditions are much better than those at a construction site, quality and worker safety are enhanced, while material wastage is reduced. Completed modules are transported for on-site assembly and installation.

The conventional approach to MEP installation is that it is always the final stage in a construction project. Hence, there is enormous time pressure as the completion date approaches, giving rise to errors, re-work and quality issues. MEP modularisation, in contrast, transfers the majority of work processes to an off-site factory so that MEP works can proceed in parallel with building construction, making full use of the time available to avoid a last-minute rush and ensuing problems and mitigate the impact of contingencies such as unexpected weather.

BIM and MEP modularisation can be applied to buildings constructed with conventional methods or Modular Integrated Construction (MiC). One of the first MiC pilot projects in Hong Kong is InnoCell, a 17-storey building now being constructed as a smart living and co-creation community at Hong Kong Science Park. ATAL is applying both BIM and MEP modularisation to this innovative project.

The ATAL team has used BIM technology to pre-engineer and modularise the building’s MEP systems, which were manufactured off-site at a Hong Kong factory. The application also ensures a seamless assembly and installation of the modules at construction site, after having inspected and commissioned for quality and statutory compliance.

“BIM and MEP modularisation are the way forward and can alleviate some of Hong Kong’s challenges, such as labour shortages and an ageing workforce,” Brian says. The focus is also in line with ATAL’s “New Technology, New Market and New Business Model” strategies. With its experienced teams and competitive R&D strengths, ATAL will continue to help clients enjoy the greater productivity and other benefits of leading-edge construction technologies.

Left: ATAL is at the leading edge to take part in MiC projects

Middle: InnoCell is one of the first MiC pilot projects in Hong Kong

Right: MEP modularisation substantially enhances efficiency and quality of E&M works