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What we intend to do in September (Part 1)

The state of the MEP consultancy and contracting disciplines

| | Jul 12, 2017 | 11:49 am
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In early 2016, we reported on how downtime or unplanned outage in hospitals can be a costly affair and on how oftentimes, the problem is the result of faulty MEP design and construction practices. While figures are not available in the GCC region, in the United States, hospitals reportedly lose about USD 2 billion a year through downtime.

The same malady of outages afflicts data centres in healthcare facilities in the United States, leading to data loss running into a total cost of nearly USD 1 million per incident.

Outages relate to not only the financial side of the picture but hit a healthcare institution at its very core. In a mission-critical facility like a hospital, very lives could be at stake, emphasising the critical nature of specialised MEP expertise.

The report highlighted typical causes of downtime as being failure to comply with design codes – in the case of one hospital, it came to light that breakers and electrical panels were exposed to water – and poorly designed mechanical rooms resulting in roof-mounted chillers malfunctioning due to leakages or burnt compressors. Poor design also included lack of proper access for maintenance personnel to reach critical valves or expansion joints, typically prone to leakages.

The litany of causes drove home the indispensable need for selecting specialised MEP consultants and contractors for a project. For us, at the magazine, it triggered a decision to intensify our focus on the state of the MEP industry, and so later in the year, we produced a two-part report – one dedicated to MEP consultancy and the other dedicated to MEP contracting in the GCC region.

The contents of the report revealed a startling neglect of specialised MEP disciplines, with many builders choosing to go on their own, a practice that often led to poor design and construction approaches, and an attritional environment of lopsided contracts and payment delays.

The readership feedback to the two-part report was astonishing, with many asking us to not stop there but to bring the industry together for a no-holds-barred discussion on critical issues. We listened and, in early 2017, organised two roundtables to identify the issues for discussion, and the structure, tone and texture of the interactions for a major gathering – The Consultant Contractor Conference, which will be taking place on September 18 and 19 in Dubai. At the time of writing this Editor’s Note, the momentum is building up very well, widening the prospects for a path-breaking gathering in the region.

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