Editor’s Note: This is the third in a multi-part series about the Online Piping and Usage Specification (OPUS) resource available from the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA).

Long before the idea of putting a piping usage and specification resource online came to fruition, the founders of OPUS recognized the need for tradespeople to have access to what he or she wanted to know as quickly as possible in order to be able to complete their work or assignments on piping systems. The original hard copy “guideline” manual would eventually become the Online Piping and Usage Specification resource, or OPUS.

But before OPUS, there was a three-ring binder founders called “the big book.” Its full name was the “Guideline for Quality Piping Installation.” Tradespeople desperately needed this in the offices and in the field to better prepare new employees entering the workplace in both of these work areas for mechanical contractors across North America.

The “Guideline” team started work on this idea and included manufacturers/producers, suppliers, specialty and mechanical piping contractors, management team leaders, and more. But one gentleman, in particular, should be given credit for the successful production of this first hard-bound, three-ring-binder type of book/catalogue: Bob Durr of Durr Mechanical in New York. Durr’s industry knowledge of pipe welding fabrication needs and leadership was a perfect fit for the team.

But everyone who participated in the manual production, from the startup team to anyone added as we kept the work fresh and current, had a couple things in common.

First, we all cared for our industry very much. Second, we were all full members of the Mechanical Contractors of America Association (MCAA) and had the desire to play an important role in a project that would make it as easy and as comfortable as possible to understand and successfully design and produce a piping system.

We began with a table of contents — what was to come — and then went right down the line of needs. While management and a couple contractors worked on that, we had two or three manufacturers actually taking some of their own catalogues down to the basics, even taking out logos and any reference to their names, in the effort to make the resource clear, simple, informational in nature and fair to all involved while staying true to contractors’ needs.

As time went on, the “Guideline for Quality Piping Installation” became a reality, and MCAA was given the task to take all the information in the guide, get it to a printer to produce some samples for us to proof, and approve a hard copy. It was processed and proofed and approved for publication shortly thereafter.

The team had made it happen, and they were very proud of their work. MCAA’s Dennis Langley had 500 copies printed, including the designed blue binder that became the first official production of the education foundation for the MCAA members to see and use. We put a price on it for sale to the industry and education outlets of $195 per copy.

The Chicago MCAA chapter was the first customer to purchase the manual in bulk. Meanwhile, the team was asked to come to the Chapter association luncheon and give a talk on producing the manual before taking questions from the lunch crowd. It was lively and a privilege and a lot of fun to be part of that exercise.

Sales were pretty brisk as time went on. The manual began taking the place of 15-20 catalogues, books and field manuals on contractors’ shelves. But, all good things must come to an end, and something better was on its way.

As a new generation of managers and owners came on the scene, the need for faster and more up-to-date resource was apparent. MCAA recognized this and began a study to get the manual ready to be placed on the web. Before long, a hard copy of the “Guideline for Quality Piping Installation” became a thing of the past, giving way to OPUS. The rest, as they say, is history.

The resource is available online at www.opuspiping.org. If you haven’t checked it out, please do so, and let us hear from you. Thanks for reading, and remember: “Sugar and salt look exactly the same, but unless you know which one is which, the outcome you get with usage is totally different and disappointing.” Be careful, and when in doubt about a piping solution need, just go to OPUS and be sure of what you see and read.