Data center construction projects are incredibly complex, with competing priorities and schedules at play. The mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) contractors are at the center of that complexity and play an outsized, mission critical role compared to traditional construction projects.

The systems that MEP contractors install — from cooling infrastructure to electrical distribution systems — are mission critical for the reliable, timely delivery of the compute capacity needed for resource-hungry AI, media streaming, and e-commerce workloads. Project success relies on continuous collaboration between the MEP contractors, general contractors, engineers, and owners.

Traditional coordination via whiteboards and sticky notes is simply insufficient to keep everyone fully aligned. When you also factor in the speed at which data center projects are built today, having a reliable way to bring all stakeholders together is a nonnegotiable aspect of effective project schedule management.

As a result, there has been a drastic increase in projects that incorporate construction planning software that helps to coordinate the work of multiple MEP contractors and simplify the complexity of collaboration in data center construction by eliminating trade stacking, creating efficient crew planning, enabling improved supply chain management, and preventing rework.

Eliminating trade stacking

Trade stacking — multiple trades working simultaneously in the same area — is common in conventional construction. However, in data center construction, the fast-paced nature of the project, the large volume of trade partners, and the complexity of MEP systems and installation tasks, make trade stacking extremely risky for maintaining safety and workflow. When multiple MEP workers are scheduled for work in the same area, project managers and superintendents must cope with overcrowded workspaces, poor labor utilization, access conflicts, and increased safety risks.

With construction planning software that all MEP contractors can access simultaneously, trade stacking can be eliminated. MEP contractors can create detailed schedules that account for the sequencing of tasks and availability of resources. Most importantly, they can identify potential conflicts early on and create solutions before they find themselves at a standstill with other contractors.

Further, this technology brings all contractors together in a more collaborative environment and moves everyone toward the common goal of finishing the project on time.

Enabling efficient crew planning

Traditionally, crew planning has been time-consuming and often inaccurate due to the use of spreadsheets and other disconnected tools. Using a digital construction planning platform enables the MEP foreman to manage crew schedules more efficiently and accurately. The software divides the master schedule into manageable sections for each team to identify potential staff shortages and scheduling conflicts. As a result, it's easier to manage crews, assign tasks, track progress, and monitor jobs from beginning to end.

When there are changes in crew assignments or task priorities, they can be captured and communicated instantly. Then, with earlier visibility into previously unseen or difficult-to-detect issues in the project timeline, decision-makers can plan for labor shortages or other obstacles.

Improving supply chain management

Streamlined supply chain management is crucial to prevent equipment installation delays. Because MEP contractors rely on a complex network of suppliers and vendors, a single unexpected delay can have a cascading effect on the entire project timeline.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has made materials and equipment supply chains less predictable. When materials and equipment aren’t delivered as expected, workers can’t move forward with scheduled tasks, and MEP contractors have to scramble to redeploy them to other sites to avoid a lapse in productivity.

Construction planning software addresses this problem. The technology makes coordination between contractors, suppliers, and vendors easier and gives decision-makers the ability to build and analyze production plans to anticipate and address potential supply chain shortages. They can also access historical procurement data that identifies items with long lead times, which teams can validate early and integrate into planning.

Through more accurate procurement forecasting, MEP contractors can move away from bulk buying of materials to offset potential supply chain interruptions. While locking in a bulk price sounds like a great idea, it can have long-term drawbacks, such as the time necessary to sort through materials and the possibility of damage.

By leveraging construction planning software, MEP contractors can proactively address supply chain challenges, which improves efficiency and reduces the risk of equipment installation delays.

Preventing rework

In data center construction projects, there are often two types of rework. The first is the result of design changes or errors, which is unavoidable. The second is corrective rework caused by inaccurate design fulfillment. Both can wreak havoc on scheduling.

Construction planning software can help address issues that lead to rework. For example, the technology can track rework related to design changes or errors in real time and allow MEPs to integrate those factors into ongoing production to avoid delays. And construction planning software can help prevent corrective rework altogether. Often, rework in this situation is the result of a trade starting work too early. By using construction planning software to calibrate the master production schedule with the actual workflow, MEP contractors can ensure work doesn’t begin until it’s supposed to.


Data center construction projects require cutting-edge efficiency, and the heart of that efficiency must be frictionless collaboration. Construction planning software allows everyone to address minor problems before they lead to delays that can result in millions of dollars in lost revenue for owners and liquidated damages for contractors. By embracing this technology, MEP contractors can more easily navigate the complexity of data center construction with confidence, ensuring successful project completion and owner satisfaction.