Top Business Tools for MEP Firms
Well-built buildings wouldn’t happen without mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) engineering and consulting firms—and those firms couldn’t do what they do best without purpose-built software. With that in mind, here are our picks for the very best tools for MEP firms (in each of the following eight categories).
- 3D Scanning Software: Capture scale-accurate building scans using your smartphone.
- Energy Modeling: Design and optimize building performance.
- QA and QC: Ensure quality at every building phase with shared documents.
- Lean Design and Procurement: Use real-world content to build constructable models.
- VR Modeling: Communicate complex constructability plans via immersive virtual reality.
- Resource Scheduling Software: Get complete workforce visibility, including the ability to accurately forecast and optimize workload.
- Pipe Stress Analysis: Ensure structural integrity and compliance with industry standards.
- Flow Simulation: Simulate liquid and gas flow to optimize product performance.
Best Tool for 3D Scanning
Now that most iOS devices—Apple smartphones and iPads—come equipped with LiDAR capabilities, you have everything you need to “capture and share scale-accurate 3D scans of buildings, rooms, and spaces” in your pocket. Well, as long as you also have SiteScape, that is. This state-of-the-art 3D scanning application enables MEP firms to “unlock new levels of efficiency, accuracy and confidence by connecting designs to existing conditions.”
And because SiteScape now integrates with Autodesk Construction Cloud, users can instantly export their scans to Autodesk design tools (i.e., Revit and AutoCAD) to complete their site documentation in a flash, saving hours and hours of field work and manual documentation.
- Compatible with the iPhone 12 and 13 Pro and Pro Max as well the 2020 and 2021 iPad Pro.
- Saves hours on field measurements and thousands of dollars in rework.
- Measurements are accurate within an inch.
SiteScape offers unlimited free capture and export capabilities. The Pro plan—which allows for larger scans and cloud syncing—is $49.99 a month or $450 a year per user. Team plans are also available.
Best Tool for Energy Modeling
IES’s Virtual Environment (VE) is the best energy modeling software on the market, which is why MEP firms around the globe use its integrated analysis tools (built on the Apache simulation engine) to design and optimize “resource-efficient, healthy, and cost-effective” buildings. WIth IES VE, firms can improve building performance and energy utilization via “collaboration between architects, engineers, and contractors'' across every build phase: “from schematic design to post-occupancy.”
- Leverages “world-leading simulation engine” Apache.
- Facilitates cross-team collaboration.
- New 2022 release offers increased flexibility and functionality to users.
IES VE offers a 30-day free trial for MEP firms; pricing beyond that is available on request here.
Best Tool for QA and QC
More than 2 million builders around the world use Bluebeam Studio for its cloud-based PDF sharing and commenting capabilities. With this one top MEP tool, you’ll be able to manage everything from the “punch process” and “submittal review” to quality checks and “RFI posting.” Plus, all of your project folders and files will be in one place, which just makes everything a whole lot more organized.
Bluebeam also offers cloud-based markup sessions, so your whole team can markup, and comment on PDF prints of designs all at the same time, offering a more collaborative QA and QC process. As for learning, Bluebeam provides a plethora of how-to-videos, free webinars, and training resources to support its users.
- Improves design review; document management; submittal review; RFI posting; punch process; and QA/QC processes.
- Trusted by more than 2 million builders around the world.
- Provides a plethora of how-to-videos, free webinars, and training and consulting resources to support users.
BlueBeam offers new users a free, 30-day trial. Then, pricing ranges between $349 and $599 per seat, depending on features.
Best Tool for Lean Design and Procurement
With Trimble SysQue, MEP engineers are able to use “real-world content [more than eight million parts are already cataloged] across electrical, piping, mechanical, and sheet metal systems” to create more accurate and constructible models. Users can also connect their models to estimates to improve project intelligence, visibility, and collaboration.
- Increases productivity and reduces risk all while boosting profits.
- Extensive industry knowledge has established Trimble as an industry leader in more than 150 countries.
- Offers users access to their global support team for help.
Contact Trimble SysQue sales here for pricing.
Best Tool for VR Modeling
The best VR modeling tool for MEP firms is The Wild, which enables you to transport your clients into your projects via immersive, virtual reality. Using a VR headset, stakeholders will be able to see your MEP plans come to life before their eyes—and under their feet. According to The Wild—which acquired IRISVR’s primary VR product, Prospect, in 2021—virtual reality enables engineers, designers, and builders to “effectively communicate spatial concepts through immersive design [and constructability] reviews to unlock better decisions and alignment.” This, plus your team can ideate on the fly—and “gain critical context by experiencing [their] work at scale.”
- Boasts per-project-savings of $10,000 and speed gains of 50% on project approvals.
- Offers one-click access to Revit.
- Cloud-based data storage ensures always up-to-date spaces.
Prices range from $295 per month for a basic plan to $1,795 for a premium one. All plans are available for a free trial.
Best Tool for Resource Management and Workforce Intelligence
Founded in 2018, Mosaic provides AI-powered resource planning and workforce intelligence so MEP firms can be more efficient and profitable. Integrable with project management software and financial tools, Mosaic offers complete visibility into who is working on what, when. Its powerful AI enables MEP managers to efficiently schedule workers by suggesting project teams and work plans. With Mosaic, you’ll always know when to hire—as well as which projects to pursue and which ones to pass over.
- App is available on iOS and Android.
- Intuitive and eye-pleasing design.
- AI-powered business intelligence and at-a-glance dashboards.
Team plans are available for $9.99 per user, per month; supercharged business plans start at $14.99 per user, per month. A free trial—Mosaic’s Pilot Program—is available risk-free.
Best Tool for Pipe Stress Analysis
Built by Bentley—a world-leader in infrastructure software—AutoPIPE enables MEP firms to successfully model, calculate, and visualize pipe stress, loads, and deflections in their building designs. Thus, ensuring structural integrity and compliance with industry standards—using the most cost effective solutions possible.
- Provides “object-oriented point-and-click interactive modeling.”
- Boasts “unmatched interoperability” with other software applications.
- Provides users with API, NEMA, ANSI, ASCE, AISC, UBC, ISO, and WRC guidelines and design load limits.
AutoPIPE ranges from $3,436 for pipe stress analysis essentials to $13,606 for nuclear analysis.
Best Tool for Flow Simulation
SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation
Built on the SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD system, this tool enables MEP firms to “simulate the fluid flow, heat transfer, and fluid forces that are critical to the success of your designs.” With three packages to choose from—a general parametric flow simulation using the finite volume method for calculation; a dedicated heating, cooling, and ventilation simulation; and a dedicated thermal management study for electronics—MEP firms can select the product that works best for their focus.
- Enables users to save time and money—and keep projects on-time and on-budget.
- Offers integrated computational fluid dynamics (CFD) tools.
- Embedded in SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD.
Request a demo or get a price quote here.
There you have it: our collection of the top business tools for MEP firms across eight major categories. Do you have your own favorites that you’d like to add to this list? Send them our way. We’d love to keep expanding this resource to help MEP engineers get the most out of their software selections.