Prefabrication and pre-work are becoming increasingly popular in the construction trades. Prefabricated electrical components like panels, junction boxes, conduit, and more require less hands-on labor on-site and could ultimately save time and money.
You don’t want a job held up because of something that should be repeatable, consistent, and cost-effective, especially when it relates to potential safety and liability. Prefabricated assemblies and parts that are delivered ready for installation mean fewer on-site headaches.
The Trend Toward Prefabrication
The industry is leaning toward the benefits of pre-work and prefabrication more and more to help cut down on labor needs and cost. Repeatable parts that can be built and cut off-site and show up ready for installation require less on-site expertise, and could ultimately lead to safer and more secure buildings.
Also, this isn’t a new trend. Pre-work and prefabrication work was introduced back in the ’80s and ’90s, and is even more popular today. A survey from 2009 cited that as many as 40% of electrical contractors were turning to pre-work to help them save both money and time.
In terms of parts and equipment you can anticipate custom ordering, assume that most standard electrical and lighting equipment can be prefabricated, including:
- Electrical panels and j-boxes
- Cables and cable trays
- Lighting and lighting equipment
- Struts and supports for sanitary equipment
- Temporary power and lighting
- Coated rods
- Puzzle conduit
The Benefits of Electrical Prefabrication
By incorporating prefabricated electrical components into your project from day one, you’re investing in efficiency. In addition to saving on labor costs, prefabricated parts require less customizing and configuration than raw materials, taking up less floor space on the job site. Among the other many advantages, your crew can focus on quality, without rushing the actual installation process itself.
- Increases jobsite efficiency to keep your schedule on track
- Refocuses your labor pool on installation and job completion, rather than fabrication
- Keeps costs down (less labor, less waste, less money!)
- Supports better overall safety: parts are tested and inspected before they get to you, rather than after they start a fire
How to Address the Challenges of Electrical Prefabrication
What are the challenges of prefabrication, and how do you address them? While prefabrication has become more popular in recent decades, seasoned professionals may have a tough time embracing change. Even as more construction professionals routinely rely on prefabricated parts and materials, that doesn’t mean the team you’re working with is quite ready for it. (Insert your own joke here about “old dogs and new tricks.”) However, with the right levels of planning and communication, you’ll integrate prefab into your jobs seamlessly.
Manage Delivery and Installation Schedules Precisely
When you’re in the early phases of planning your construction and job site workflow, plan for how prefabricated electrical parts and systems will impact your schedule. Namely, how your schedule will be impacted by delivery and installation. Be prepared to have the right teams on hand within days, or even hours, of delivery to mitigate storage issues. Alternatively, schedule your delivery so you have enough hands on deck to manage the entire process to avoid scheduling bottlenecks.
Work with an Experienced, Seasoned Vendor
With any construction project, you need to introduce as few “unknowns” as possible. Working with an inexperienced vendor could disrupt everything from delivery to quality. You could also invite errors by being committed to brands and manufacturers that may not have the parts you need when you need them. Partnering with a seasoned company that can provide customized parts for any job helps to ensure that you get the right components on your schedule. An experienced partner like HOLT protects your bottom line and provides a quality experience for the entire team.
Address Resistance to Change Early in the Process
With the right communication and planning, you’ll be able to leverage all the cost and labor benefits of electrical prefabrication without resistance. Traditional methods have existed for a long time. Whether or not they are less efficient and more expensive often doesn’t matter to someone who is simply used to processes that work a certain way. Often, contractors and their subs are just concerned that outside vendors and processes aren’t as trustworthy or reliable as what they’ve been doing for their entire careers.
The solutions: Education and input. Educate the team about the advantages and seek their input from the beginning so they have a literal hand in designing the materials they’ll be installing. The more that your entire management team can integrate the process—and the vendor—to the site early in the planning phase, the more likely you are to gain buy-in and trust.
When Do You Know if Prefabrication is Right for You?
There are always clear signs that prefabricated electrical equipment is an excellent choice for your job. Just like any diagnostic process, these are common challenges that point to the obvious advantages of prefab or pre-work for your electrical needs:
- You’re facing a serious skilled labor crunch that could destroy your project timeline.
- Traditional, manual wiring and construction methodologies aren’t going to satisfy the scope of the job.
- You’re already falling behind on a tight timetable and any more delays will put you behind schedule.
- Potential delays will eat away at your margins, and you need solutions that will introduce consistency and repeatability.
- You’re worried that because of all of the above, your contractors and subs will rush the job, leaving behind mistakes and errors that could lead to insurance claims and other liability issues.
Why HOLT for Prefabricated Electrical Equipment?
There are so many variables in construction that are well outside of your control. Trusting HOLT with your prefabricated electrical supplies helps you protect your timelines and cost overruns with some level of predictability and consistency. Your management has the opportunity to work with a trusted go-to supplier with deep roots in the construction and trades business.
HOLT maintains relationships with numerous vendors, and we can satisfy the custom needs of any job and any client, and get your parts to you on time and on budget. Contact your HOLT rep today for a free consultation to learn more about how we can save you money and solve some of your on-site construction headaches.
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