As many electrical contractors are discovering, Pre-fabrication, or ‘Pre-fab’, offers opportunities for material and labor savings by using an assembly line approach to manufacturing and applying it to the construction industry. By standardizing a product and building it offsite, contractors can streamline the assembly process (labor savings) and shorten the installation time (labor savings), as well as reduce the amount of general materials required on the jobsite (material savings) and the amount of time required to handle, store and search for parts and pieces by the installers (labor savings).
There’s not much that can’t be pre-fabricated with enough time, forethought and creativity. Typically, electrical contractor’s start off with simple assemblies with a few parts such as pipe racks, duct banks, fixture & device boxes, and fixtures with whips or cords. These are great time savers and allow contractors to see a measurable return on investment on a small scale.
As contractors get more comfortable with pre-fab, they begin to expand their catalog and experiment with more complicated assemblies. On a recent high-rise project, we started the pre-fab process during the pre-con stage of the project. The PM, Superintendent and key leadmen met for a day and brainstormed all the different things they could pre-fab. The list was impressive. Here are two of the creative ideas that we implemented early on:
Not only did these save time on the installation side, they provided uniform blockouts in the slabs for the two busrisers and eliminated the need to go back later and lay out curbs for the concrete contractor to pour.
This resulted in large time and materials savings. Instead of routing large MC cable unit subfeeds overhead through the corridors during the rough stage, we put 1.5” ENT in the slabs from the electrical closet to the residential unit panel locations. We installed GRC 90’s at both ends to protect them from being damaged. We also installed a 12”X12”x48” wireway on the 90’s in the electrical closet which helped reduce the amount of time required to connect to the meter stacks that were installed several months later when the building was dried in.
These were just two of the creative pre-fab ideas our team developed, and both contributed towards the labor and material savings goals on the project.
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Ascent's founder and president, Adam Cooper has over two decades of experience in construction business ownership, sales & marketing, project management, company operations and leadership.