Roger Swift

Based on direct experience, involving M&E suppliers early in a project can make a huge difference to long term costs.

AIS’ Managing Director, Simon Burras has written about the importance of this for Infrastructure Intelligence. He believes that not involving M&E early enough can subsequently lead to three key missed opportunities and longer term cost of ownership issues.

Missed opportunity #1: Disparate systems rather than an integrated approach 

M&E equipment is generally specified as a number of separate packages and these in turn will most likely be tendered separately. Historically, this wasn’t a problem as most of the M&E packages were relatively simple, stand alone systems. Today, the situation is vastly different, with the majority of M&E equipment having its own computer control. In a complex infrastructure setting, this requires an integrated system approach rather than the supply of a number of disparate computer systems that the operator of the final systems may struggle to reconcile and use.


Missed opportunity #2: Relying on generalists without specific systems experience

A second disconnect occurs where the performance specification becomes too prescriptive in some areas, but ambiguous in others. The root of this problem lies with the engineers who write the specifications, because as generalists, they will inevitably have a more limited understanding of the current technology available than specialists.

This is not a criticism of the engineers, but a statement of fact as to the way that design companies are often organised. For example, an electrical engineer is frequently assigned the role of specifying the SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) computer system and whilst he or she will have some experience of the technology, they probably won’t have the in-depth computer system and software experience that could benefit the design.


Missed opportunity #3: Failure to innovate

The first two missed opportunities inevitably result in M&E specifications being recycled across different projects, with the consequence that new technologies are neglected for the ‘same old’ approach. This is in part understandable as design budgets like all other areas of construction are under pressure, but the context here is that we have seen specifications based on documents over 20 years old and that simply can’t be right.


You can read the full article published in Infrastructure Intelligence here: Involve M&E early