Three Key BIM Trends in MEP Layout

What are leading-edge mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) contractors focusing on this year as a way to boost their BIM capabilities? Here are three trends I’m seeing. 

1. A move to 3D. An increasing number of building owners, facility managers and project engineers are working with 3D models. This means MEP contractors will need to be able to work in a 3D environment and provide 3D datasets. The trend toward connecting 3D models to robotic total stations and 3D laser measurement tools to ensure more accurate layout will continue to grow, especially in the area of hangers and equipment placement.

2. More as-built scanning. The use of prefabricated building components has been growing over the last several years and is likely to continue. The need to ensure a first-time fit of prefabricated components is leading to an increase in laser scanning to capture 3D as-builts of the building structure and openings.

3. A smarter use of technology. Contractors are taking advantage of recent hardware and software advances to create easy “point and click” methods for locating points, lines and features on the jobsite using information entered from paper drawings in the field. For example, the newest version of MicroSurvey Layout has an MEP module that features a tool called “auto-locate,” which makes it simple to locate points—just click the menu option and watch the instrument work. Within the software, you can view the space in 3D and confirm that the locations are correct as the instrument takes measurements. Then, using the laser dot from the 3D laser measurement tool or total station, you can mark the point on the wall or floor and be confident that it’s in the right place. Options such as continuous measurement mode allow you to enter offsets so you can use a target with the laser dot.

Watch this video to learn more.


What are the biggest trends you’re seeing in MEP layout? Share your comments below.

Cathi Hayes is an architect, building information modeling (BIM) pioneer and strategy leader with more than 20 years of experience developing and implementing workflow improvements in various facets of the building design and construction industry. Early on her career, she established Revit as an industry changing model-based design technology in the architectural design industry. She later served as strategic BIM manager for Autodesk, establishing the company as a primary resource in the US residential, commercial and government markets for design, engineering and construction collaboration to help improve workflows and reduce costs. As BIM strategy and business development director for Leica Geosystems, Cathi focuses on helping building contractors achieve greater success in BIM through the adoption of leading-edge hardware and software solutions that make it easy to move from 2D to 3D workflows and extending the value of BIM into the field. Cathi is a trusted BIM advisor and a leading voice on BIM throughout the North American construction industry. She holds degrees from North Carolina State (BEDA Architecture) and the University of Kansas (PBA). She can be reached at

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