Welcome, Hillary!

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Welcome, Hillary!

Hillary Frazier EngineerMore team members are joining us here at Teppics! Hillary Frazier is our newest recruit. She is a designer/drafter from Georgia, joining us with a background in both Revit & Mechanical Engineering.

Teppics founder Brandon Toepper says, “I, personally, cannot wait to see how Hillary helps bring Teppics to the next level. Her positive attitude is infection, and her willingness to expand her skillset is a huge asset.”

Getting to know Hillary

Time for the Teppics questionnaire. Hillary tells us about her first job & who she’d invite to her talk show.

Teppics: Welcome to Teppics! What do you bring to the team?
Hillary: I bring a wide variety of experience from structural, hvac/mechanical to electrical.

T: What was your first job?
H: I worked for an interior design firm, focused on renovations and used “green” materials that are better for the environment.

T: If you could host a talk show, who would be your first guest?
H: My first guest would be Walt Disney. As a nineties kid, I grew up watching all of his movies and it would be amazing to meet the man who stimulated my imagination and led me to discover my love for travel!

Please join us in welcoming the newest Teppics team member!

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MEP Engineering Services for Office Buildings

The most common client for Teppics is the landlord of an office building. Over the years, we’ve completed hundreds of drawings for office buildings, and we’ve come to understand the unique challenges of landlords as a result. Read on to better understand how we approach designs for this type of building.

Challenges of Engineering Design for Offices

On the surface, office buildings seem to be one of the easiest designs to produce. The layouts are fairly simple, and the loads for electrical and mechanical are not huge. In addition, coordinating the design between the stakeholders in construction and the components of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing is fairly smooth. However, we frequently encounter a couple of challenges:

  1. Each tenant has their own needs: Many office buildings split the space between several tenants, usually with each one renting one floor. Each one probably needs a server room, a break room, some combination of different sized conference rooms, outlets for each desk, etc. Although the contents of the floor are common, the size and configuration vary – especially if the tenant would like to “brand” the space. Thus, cookie cutter designs become custom for each division almost immediately.
  2. The landlord doesn’t have the documentation: Because the needs of an office building appear simple, the documentation is often missing. The complexity arises when a tenant moves out and the existing design needs editing. Because MEP designs must support the building as a whole, we usually need to incorporate a field tour to recapture this detail.

What seems like an easy, quick-win project for all parties is often not when it comes to engineering services for office buildings, but Teppics has been through it many times.

The Teppics Approach to Office MEP Design

With any design, our number one priority is safety. With each variation from the core design, we are potentially increasing the electrical and mechanical load on the building as a whole. We keep a close eye on these calculations, working with the client to accommodate as much as possible, and our transition to RevIT has certainly streamlined this complicated process.

We also ideally like to provide the full suite of MEP services where possible. We can deliver faster and more efficiently when all of the collaboration required is internal. Although we are happy to collaborate with other firms, the communication lag unfortunately adds time, effort, and potential for mistakes to the project.

Our second highest priority behind safety is customer satisfaction. We are proud to accommodate the unique needs of any client, whether that relates to the delivery timeline, complexity of the design, or some other factor. (Plus, you’ll notice if you read our reviews that we are often priced to provide more value for your dollar than our competition, AND we are always available beyond the typical 9-5.)

Case Study: Diversified Tooling Corp

We were contracted with a company that works on the design and manufacture of prototype and specialty machined parts. The original projected scope for this free standing building was a traditional “hot shell” combined with fully occupancy ready office space. This was a ½ and ½ project; 50% industrial machining equipment space and 50% office space.

The loads on the industrial side are well defined and require a significant electrical infrastructure as the company was moving from one location to another. The office space required both coordinated and segregated Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing. The space didn’t require much in the way of the natural gas feed.

Having all disciplines under the Teppics banner allowed Mechanical/Plumbing and Electrical to work in conjunction, allowing us to set a short turnaround time and stick to schedule with ease. With our transition to RevIT, we were able to use a hybrid approach: using AutoCAD for certain schedules and details, and RevIT for floor plan views and native schedules. This allows for the blending of the beauty of a RevIT database drawing and the universal functionality of AutoCAD.

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New Capability: Cable Ampacity Calculations

Teppics Engineering now has new capability provided by a new module from SKM PTW. We can now provide Cable Ampacity calculations given a temperature rise from the surrounding conditions.

The design challenge is to account for in your calculations soil type, duct bank encasing type, type of conduit (metal vs. plastic), conductor size, current ratings, ambient air temperatures, depth of duct bank, conduit quantities, conduit configuration (2x4, 3x3, etc). These calculations are required to adequately derate your cables and ensure you have the proper rating / size / quantities of cables going to the equipment. This is especially important when you have large ampacity requirements from equipment to equipment - the standard NEC tables / quick references are not adequate.

Cable Ampacity Calculations Example

As a cable carries more current, the amount of heat rejected increases exponentially with the product of the resistance (P=I^2 * R). Most cables have a protective, insulative coating typically made of PVC. These coatings have a temperature rating - 60C, 75C, and/or 90C. These ratings are temperature rise over ambient. So, if it's 40C (104F) and your cable is rated to 60C rise over ambient - you're left with ~100C which boils water.

However, if you increase the current going through the wire still, you will exceed the temperature rating of the insulation. This will cause this protective coating to melt or worse, catch fire. In the calculation, you have cables routing through a raceway (conduit) and it's trying to reject heat to the surrounding area. Depending on if you're directly burying these conduits in soil vs. encasing in concrete vs. free air - these surrounding conditions can insulate or conduct the heat. Another concerning condition is when conduits are close enough together, the heat from conduit 1 can heat conduit 2. This mutual heating causes unnecessary temperature rise - thus, if you don't want a fault condition, the current you can route through the conductor is less (essentially de-rating the conductors).

A common mitigation technique for arid / dry environments like the Southwest region is to encase the conduit banks in concrete. By comparison to sand and/or rocky soil, concrete is a very good conductor of heat. This allows you the ability to locate the duct bank closer to the surface of earth, allowing convection to wick heat in to the atmosphere, while still providing appropriate protection encasing these conduits in concrete. Additionally, you can design the duct bank with space between to provide more thermal mass between heating elements (cables) to sink more thermal energy.

The Result

Lastly, after Teppics Engineers have performed these calculations, the visualization of the 3D product can be realized. Utilizing our new CAD platform, AutoDesk Revit, you can see from the attached pictures that spacing conduits out between each other is relatively easy. However, in the example shown, having a 40" x 40" entrance and exit pathway in electrical equipment is just not feasible. A transformer may be 40" x 40" total - let alone just the customer side of the equipment. Thus, routing conduits in 3D allows for visualization of at least 1 possible solution for routing conduits.

Teppics would then provide this solution to the contractor and express language in notes to allow field modifications to occur if there is a more optimal solution. Key elements such as minimum conduit distances, concrete bank material, and closeness to surface material are defined while the rest of the measurements such as bend radius, sweep start/stop, and angle of sweep compared to rotating on the longitudinal length, are left to the contractors in the field. The point of 3D dimensions is not to handcuff the field installation, rather it's to show that there is a possible solution and allowance for field personnel to modify if a better solution exists.

The pictures below show one example of how Teppics Engineering can provide the level of technical understanding in the design for a project. Let us know if we can help you with your next design!

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Spring & Winter 2017 Projects

This winter has been busy! So busy that we completed 58 jobs since January, and half of those were partnerships with other local businesses. As always, we send a huge thanks to the Teppics team or your hard work over these times, and we continue to ramp up on RevIT as our core platform.

Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Job 210 – 1523 Copper Ave 4-Plex: This building is a brand new 4-plex, currently under construction. Teppics provided full MEP designs for 3 four-plex buildings of residential housing in the downtown area.
  • Job 216 – Homewood Suites: This builder is adding 30 units to an existing/operating Albuquerque hotel. We turned this job around quickly, as contractors were already on staff and moving.
  • Job 222 – Navin Properties: Teppics provided full MEP and RevIT services for this “Warm Shell” shop space with receptacles and lighting, including an attached office space as a fully operational, occupancy ready suite.
  • Job 223 – Jersey Mike’s Holly Ave: This repeat client came back for another round of designs for their Jersey Mike’s sandwich shop. Glad to have a happy client!
  • Job 224 – VFW in Carlsbad NM: This one is a building upgrade for a VFW chapter in Southern NM. We are always excited to be included in jobs with and for veterans!
  • Job 233 – Los Alamos Pizza Kitchen: For this job, we provided designs for refitting an existing space in Los Alamos, NM, for a pizza kitchen and dining area. The client has requested LED lighting for its long wear and electricity savings. Teppics recommended a service upgrade to ensure adequate power for expansion and upgrades.
  • Job 234 – Azuma III: Teppics provided an expert review of MEP drawings for a teppanyaki restaurant for an architect client.

Looking forward to this summer, as more exciting jobs continue to come in!

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Teppics Transitions to Revit

Teppics is in the middle of a very exciting transition! We are introducing a new technology called Revit, which presents the same drawings utilizing 3D design. Instead of designing project spaces from a bird's eye view, like a traditional blueprint and CADD, Revit drawings are database driven and interactively linked. This means, making a change in an elevation view, revises all sections, plan views, detail views, and specialty plans that display that item which changed.

From CADD to Revit

Other than the ability to design everything more visually, Revit offers benefits in terms of team efficiency and output quality. The software includes a database that stores scales, specifications, and calculations. This allows one-time setup for jobs that might have multiple buildings allowing the project settings to replicate across all drawing packages. For example, an HVAC change might significantly alter the electrical design and if all aspects are linked, the calculations and connections update automatically. Revit software replicates the changes across the entire job, rather than forcing the engineer to manually find each instance. The software also can auto generate the Bill of Materials (BOM), which gives Teppics' clients insights into the total material to be utilized in their project. This gives more detailed information for contractors to more accurately estimate a project.

The result is less room for error, faster revisions, and overall higher quality work for the client.  Although Teppics still uses its existing QA process, the technology resolves most of the errors before QA.

Transition is not immediate. This type of change requires implementation & setup of the software, training of the team, and new production processes.  So far, Teppics has delivered one complete job with Revit, and two more are in progress.  Teppics Engineering prides itself on a quality package and has already incorporated the new quality control process for future projects. The team expects to continue upgrading the processes & output as they gain momentum from the rollout.

Revit Examples

Check out some examples of the finished product below.

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Welcome, Dan!

Welcome, Dan Cooper!

dcooper_web_photoThe Teppics team is continuing to grow, and we are excited to introduce Dan Cooper. Dan is a Designer/Drafter with experience working on variety of MEP projects – both large and small. Clients he has worked with include Procter & Gamble, Honda, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Duke Energy. In addition to Engineering – he has also worked in Software Development.

“Dan’s depth of experience is very valuable to the Teppics team” says founder Brandon Toepper. “I think he will really help to round out our capabilities, given our recent expansion into Mechanical engineering.”

Dan hails from the great state of Texas. He enjoys spending his free time with his family, biking and fishing.

Getting to know Dan

Like we often do with our new employees, we asked Dan a few questions to get to know him better. Read on for more on why Dan joined us at Teppics & what his guilty pleasure is.

Teppics: What do you bring to the Teppics team?
Dan: Multiple years of experience in health care, industrial and commercial HVAC/Mechanical design.

T: What is your guilty pleasure?
D: Beating my oldest son at video games – which doesn’t happen much anymore.

T: What do you want on your tombstone?
D: Pepperoni and cheese.

Thanks for playing along, Dan, and welcome again to the Teppics team!

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Tips for a successful engineering design project

Sometimes, a project lasts forever, and not in a good way. We have all seen those projects that become a constant cycle of resolving issues until one party is comfortable enough with the outcome. In order to avoid situations like that, Teppics has these tips for a successful engineering design project.

  1. Design the mechanical, electric, and plumbing based on the final architectural blueprints. Starting engineering design while the client reviews the final blueprint proposal is the first way to set back the project. Project managers are often tempted to begin as soon as possible because the output is a large impact on the budget. However, a small tweak to the functionality of the space can have a huge impact on the design.
  2. Allow engineering design access to the person who has a view of the entire project. Some projects incorporate a network of subcontractors each performing a small part of the job. For example, a project may contain more than one set of architects. However, this results in miscommunication to the engineering design teams, who must account for several disparate stakeholders. Ensuring one person has a holistic understanding of the architectural design and connecting that person with the engineering firm will save everyone time and money.
  3. Promote open collaboration. Simply put, MEP engineers don’t appreciate a project’s challenges unless you tell them what they are. Between architectural roadblocks, project management setbacks, or some other issue, some jobs are less cut and dry than others. Including your MEP design firm in on the discussions and open items will only help them provide the best service to you. As with any situation, the more open & honest communication there is, the better the outcome for all involved.

In summary: we’re part of the team

Reading these, you may think they are oversimplified guidelines, yet they are easier said than done. We at Teppics often meet project managers or architects who view us as a compartmentalized set of deliverables. Yet, we prefer to be considered an integral part of the project. Although walls, windows, and stairs are the foundation of a building, the electrical, mechanical, and plumbing are infrastructure items that affect said foundations. Consider their role in making a space functional, comfortable, and standardized the next time you interact with an engineering team.

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Arc Flash Study in 72 Hours

Customer service is a priority here at Teppics. So much that the team cranked out an Arc Flash Study in under 72 hours.

A partner of Teppics called with a big request. He faced a tight project schedule for brand new construction of an eco-friendly laundry provider in Albuquerque.  The client needed a full Arc Flash study done before he could move forward with development.

“There is a lot of moving parts when it comes to construction jobs.” says Brandon Toepper, founder of Teppics. “We understand that, and we do our best to accommodate our clients’ deadlines. In this case, I knew the team could come through for this partner, so we redistributed the open projects to get it done.”

Thank you to the Teppics team for your dedication to excellent client satisfaction.

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Welcome, Nina!

You may have heard near the end of 2016 that the Teppics team achieved huge momentum. In fact, now that we are consistently busy, we hired on an office manager!

Please help us welcome Nina Toepper

Nina Toepper is Teppics Engineering's new Office ManagerShe is now the day to day operations lead here at Teppics Engineering. “We are thankful to have Nina come on board,” says Brandon Toepper, the founder. “She can take our operations to the next level, while the rest of the team and I focus on delivering the highest quality work possible.”

Nina lives in Rio Rancho with her husband, two teenage boys, and two dogs. She also works part time as a nurse, so you can imagine that she is extremely organized, conscientious, and customer service-oriented.

Getting to know Nina

Since she’s a newbie, we took a few minutes to learn a little more about Nina. Read on for more on how she got the job and what she hopes to bring to the team.

Us: I notice your last name is the same as Brandon’s. What is your relationship?
Nina Toepper: We’ve been married for almost 18 years. I love him more today than I did yesterday. Yesterday he was being really annoying.

US: If you ruled the world, what would you change on day 1?
NT: I would make incorrect apostrophe usage and taking off your shoes and socks on an airplane crimes against humanity.

US: What are some of your pet peeves?
NTGluten-free people, little yappy dogs, teenage boys and engineers.

US: Who is your favorite superhero?
NT: I’m a nurse, Brandon is a Marine. I know lots of superheroes.

US: What do you hope to contribute to the Teppics team?
NT: My charm and wit, my good looks, my brainpower, and of course, my modesty and humility.

US: What would you be doing if you didn’t join Teppics?
NT: Are you kidding? This is my dream job!

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Happy New Year

However you are celebrating these holidays, we at Teppics wish you a restful & joyous end of the year. Our team is using the time to relax after a busy start to winter.

We also want to say thank you. Because of folks like you, our small business saw tremendous growth this year; our team is expanding, and we are now offering a full MEP suite of services. We are looking forward to carrying this momentum into 2017.

So thank you, from our family to yours.

Brandon Toepper
President & Founder of Teppics Engineering