Long Lead Times for MEP Equipment Require Project Planning Up to One Year in Advance

The New Normal – A Longer Planning Timeline

Simply put, if a building representative believes they need a new chiller, boiler, or other mechanical, electrical, or plumbing (MEP) equipment by the Summer of 2023, they likely should be planning to have their project in design during the Summer of 2022.

Elara Engineering’s design teams are tracking MEP equipment delivery lead times as long as 16-20 weeks, with certain situations extending beyond this duration.  This includes major equipment such as air handling units, chillers, and boilers as well as major components (larger sized valves, pipe fittings, etc.) which are impacting both retrofit and repair projects.  Due to the long equipment lead times, clients may not realize that advanced planning is necessary to ensure their project is completed on time.


What is Elara doing to assist Clients during the preliminary phases of the Project Development?

  • As soon our MEP design teams become aware of a client’s interest in undertaking a project – before we’re even retained or formally asked for a proposal; we make inquiries with major equipment manufacturers regarding general lead times and integrate this information into the projects and timelines we propose.
  • We then advise our potential client about when approval to proceed is needed – particularly if the project is driven by a seasonal need (e.g., winter heating, summer cooling, etc.).
  • As part of our engineering proposals, we also identify and incorporate tactics to preorder long lead equipment, if required, to ensure that the project schedule can be achieved.  Proposals may even include a preliminary schedule so that stakeholders know what to expect and when key decisions should be made.


What is Elara doing to assist Clients during the Engineering Design Phase?

  • As we evaluate multiple equipment manufacturers on key attributes like energy efficiency, physical size, etc., we also consider equipment delivery lead times as part of the overall selection process.
  • We identify and evaluate phasing opportunities to minimize the risk that the building is without the service of the equipment being replaced. For example, if multiple boilers/chillers are planned for replacement, we evaluate a sequenced construction approach so that only one unit is replaced at a time to ensure that existing equipment can continue to support the building until all new boilers/chillers are operational.  We also evaluate if the new equipment can be installed at a different location (e.g., adjacent to existing equipment) so that downtime is further reduced.


Additional Thoughts

  • Even with the efforts described above to address current market conditions, delivery times can be further delayed. Therefore, it is important to plan ahead as much as possible and to be conservative when establishing project schedules as actual equipment delivery dates are ultimately beyond full control of the client, contractor, and design engineer.
  • When purchased equipment is a major component of a new or retrofitted MEP system – like an air-handling unit , boiler, chiller, or switchboard – and if delivery of that equipment is delayed, the building’s owner, manager, and occupants can be negatively impacted due to a lack of service when needed and when required to meet local ordinances. As a result, we recommend that clients contact us as soon as they are considering an MEP project so that, together, we can begin evaluating equipment lead times and planning the project schedule.


For more information about equipment lead times and planning for your future project, we urge you to contact us at info@elaraeng.com.