The MEP Infrastructure networks in Construction Projects as you need to know
Firstly, for the mega projects, infrastructure networks are considered the artery of the project which will feed all the different buildings & landscape works with different electrical, mechanical, and low current sources.
Let us have a look at these different MEP networks which can be found in Infrastructure, we will divide these networks into three categories, electrical networks, mechanical networks, and low current networks.
1- Electrical networks:
These networks can be divided into two subcategories.
1.1- Medium Voltage network:
This network mainly will be found in big projects.
Again we can find this medium voltage in two main scenarios.
The first scenario is the MV network can feed either the medium voltage switchgear or the ring main unit which will be available in the project.
The second scenario is this MV network will feed a medium voltage station which will step down the voltage from example from 22KV to 11KV like in Egypt, or it can be in some other cases from higher KV ranges to be decreased up to 13.8KV, like in Saudi Arabia.
For the first scenario “MV network in Infrastructure”, your buildings in the project will require a low voltage source to energize all the different MEP equipment with the power, examples of these types of equipment (Chillers, Air Handling Units, SMDB, DB, Pumps…etc).
But may you ask yourself, why do we need the medium voltage cables to feed the mega-project while we can use Low Voltage directly?
The main reason for this is to overcome the voltage drop that happens during the power transfer, as for the same power required to the load when the voltage is increased, the current will be decreased and hence the voltage drop will be decreased.
1.2- Low Voltage networks:
This is a network that can be found in different scenarios, for example, this network is used to feed the landscape lighting.
Or, this network we use to feed the street lighting poles.
Or, we use it to feed to the pump rooms in the infrastructure, like the pumps which will be used to operate the swimming pools.
Or, the low voltage cables will be directly used to empower the building itself, like villas of a compound, or the buildings which don’t include step down transformer from Medium Voltage to Low Voltage.
And so on.
2- Mechanical networks:
Now we will talk about the mechanical services/systems which can be found in Infra works.
2.1- Drainage/ Seweage network:
You can say this is the most important network of the MEP systems in Infra works.
The main reason is this network’s installation depends on the slope of its pipes/lines.
As the most less slope of the line will be the farthest point of the main sewage line.
Let us assume the slope of the main drainage line will be 0.5 CM for each one-meter length of the pipe, so if the size of your project is huge, for example, the length of the main drainage line is around 2 KM = 2000 M for the main drainage pipe, that means the slope of this pipe from its start to end will be 1000 CM = 10 M.
2.2- Storm Water network:
The same also will be applied to the stormwater network as it depends also on the slope.
So from the previous two water systems, we can conclude that these networks, routes, and slopes must be respected, as most of the other networks either are pressurized like Water Supply networks, or Gas networks, or nonwater networks like electrical and low current networks.
2.3- Water Supply network:
Simply this network will be used to transfer the potable water from the water supply pumps to the different buildings and to the water fountains in the landscape, and can feed also water drinking fountains.
2.4- Irrigation network:
This network will be used to feed all the planters and landscape areas with the irrigation water.
This network is pressurized as it transfers the water from the irrigation pumps to the different landscape areas.
2.5- Firefighting network:
This network will be responsible to feed all the fire hydrants that exist in the infra, the different external fire hose cabinets, plus based on the design of your project, it can feed the firefighting network’s zones in a project
2.6- Chilled/Hot Water networks:
These networks will be responsible to transfer the cold water from the main chilled water pumps & hot water pumps respectively to the different mechanical units of the HVAC system which exist in different buildings of the project.
2.7- Steam network:
This is network mostly can be found in the medical project, where you have a central Boiler building that will generate the steam and to be transferred through this network to all the locations that require steam and don’t have their local steam unit. For example central laundry building, hospital, and so on.
Now, I will talk about the third category of the MEP systems
3- Local Current networks:
Mainly due to the long length of these networks in infra, so their cable almost will be fiber optic cable.
The type of fiber optic cable (FOC) almost will be single mode FOC. It can travel for longer distances than the multi-mode FOC.
These low current systems will be used for the data networks, IPTV systems, fire alarm systems…etc.
You shall be noted that all the above MEP systems in the three categories will require either manhole, handholes, or both, or valve chambers (for pressurized water systems & gas networks).
Each one of them will have a specific depth depends on the standards, manufacturer recommendations, and your approved shop drawings.
So, we can conclude that for the infrastructure networks, you must have very good coordination MEP drawings, this is to avoid any possible clashes during the installation process of your systems, and to avoid losing time and manpower.
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