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Industry News

Design and Construction Culture is Biggest Barrier to Extreme Modular, Says NIBS Survey

ENR Survey Results - Modular Systems

Mechanical-Electrical-Plumbing Systems Shop vs. Field Labor"Researchers trying to get a handle on trends and benefits of off-site construction say studies are limited by a lack of consensus about what really qualifies as prefabrication. That aside, 93% of 312 responders to a recent online survey indicate they have used, 'to some degree,' off-site fabricated components, with precast concrete the most frequently used. Of the responders, 83% say they will use off-site construction to the same degree or more in the next year."


"Responders agreed that the biggest barrier to off-site is the traditional design and construction culture, with factory-to-site distance as the second biggest. They also rank schedule advantage—and/or speed to market—as the greatest benefit, followed by quality and cost-effectiveness."


"Smith says a significant survey finding is that, to reap PMC's advantages, a building team must consider it early in the design and construction process. 'There are negative cost and schedule impacts if you do not plan early,' he says. The survey also indicates the owner is not the one deciding to use PMC. Rather, designers and contractors typically make the decision to use modular'PMC is still being treated as a technique in a traditional process, rather than as an entirely new delivery process,' says Smith."


Read more at enr.com

Published April 15, 2015 by Nadine M. Post (ENR.com - Engineering News-Record)

Technological Revolution Advances in Construction

"Mastering prefabrication is all about gaining more projects to keep more journeymen and apprentices working."

"New methods of construction require new skills and using old skills in new ways."

"'Prefab is an evolution,' says Mills, who employs 110 IBEW members. 'We need buy-in from top to bottom."

"Prefab is not just for large projects...Niche applications are proving nearly as profitable [as large projects]."


Read more in the April 2015 issue of The Electrical Worker.

Published by The Electrical Worker

Labor Shortage May Slow Construction

Electrical Contractor: Power & Integrated Building Systems

"For years, the industry has foretold of the inevitable shortage of skilled construction workers. According to a new survey, the projected labor shortage may be complex and due to a confluence of factors.

Consulting, investment and research firm FMI Corp., in a survey of contruction executives, found that a labor shortage will restrict almost one-quarter of the respondents from bidding more work. Furthermore, the survey found that about one-third of the respondents will experience slow growth without sufficient skilled labor and tradespeople."


Read more at ecmag.com

Published April 2015 by Timothy Johnson (Electrical Contractor Magazine)

Industry Buzz: Craft Labor Gaps Will Slow Growth, Say Contractor HR Chiefs

How Firms Will Adapt to Craft Shortfalls

Craft labor gaps ahead will slow growth for about one-third of large contractors and cause 25% to pass up bids, even as 65% plan to self-perform more work, says a survey of firms' human resources execs by consultant FMI

The study projects a need for 8,500 additional craft workers by 2017, and sees field manager gaps as well.

FMI training expert Ken Wilson says while 40% of respondents have executive succession plans, only 14% have them for project managers and only 7% for foremen and superintendents.

About 24% of respondees say they will increase their use of prefabrication and modularization to make up for craft shortfalls.

Read more at ENR.com.

Published February 19, 2015 by Contractor Business Quarterly (ENR.com, Engineering News Record)

'Double-Handling' Can Be A Good Thing

Michael McLin, President, Maxim Consulting Group
Coffee Break With Michael McLin, President, Maxim Consulting Group


"Most electrical contractors think of prefabrication only in the context of large construction projects. Prefab may benefit bigger jobs, they reason, but it could never benefit service work. Nothing could be further from the truth. Properly planned prefabrication can introduce the same kind of outcomes in service work as it brings to larger projects. As a matter of fact, it can be even more important to the profitability of smaller jobs than anyone might otherwise have imagined. Take, for example, a service job that has a highly demanding, one-week completion schedule. Does it make sense to spend the first two or three days in the field building something that might have been fabricated ahead of time in the shop?"


"At this point in the 21st century, I cannot think of another industry—with the exception of healthcare—in which there is such a total lack of standardization than in the construction industry. In our consulting practice, we place a huge amount of emphasis on guiding our contractor clients into greater standardization in their operations. It is impossible to improve a business without standards, and, in this context, we mean both standardized process and standardized components for prefabricated assemblies."


Read more at ecmag.com

Published December 2014 by Andrew McCoy & Fred Sargent (Electrical Contractor Magazine)

Prefabrication Trends

Modular Representation

"Recently, there has been a rise in the use of prefabrication and modular construction methods, even though both have been used in the construction industry for centuries. After falling out of popularity, it is re-emerging thanks to the rise of building information modeling (BIM) and the influence of green building, according to McGraw-
Hill Construction.

Prefabrication methods are increasingly used in residential and commercial projects and include everything from in-floor and in-wall products to switches, receptacles and other visible components.

'Electrical contractors are increasingly using prefabrication as a way to improve productivity by reducing the amount of time it takes to install and terminate the products on-site,' said Kevin Kohl, product manager, commercial wiring devices for Pass & Seymour, Syracuse, N.Y. 'By improving installation efficiency, the contractor should be able to increase the volume of jobs it takes on, or it can take on more sophisticated, complex projects.'”


“"Prefabbing improves productivity on the job site. There’s far less material handling on-site and the preassembled electrical components are shipped out in a complete fashion,' Washebek said.

Lemberg Electric cited faster project schedules, less trash and scrap at the job site (and less work to do to comply with green-building trash-separation requirements), and reduced labor needs and costs."


Read more at ecmag.com

Published August 2014 by Darlene Bremer (Electrical Contractor Magazine)


Fast-Track Project Demands Labor-Saving Methods

EC&M: Electrical Construction & Maintenance

"Because the construction team was working on such a fast-track project, the contractors had to find innovative ways to improve productivity. Through its in-house prefabrication shop, Interstates was able to slash field installation time while staying on schedule. For example, the prefabrication shop made up 90° conduits rather than having all of its electricians bend the conduit in the field. By working from a 3D CAD model, the shop was able to bend much of the pipe, assemble conduit racks, and then deliver all the materials to the site.

'The electricians could just take the pipe to the electrical room and fit it together like a puzzle,' says Nate Van Kley, estimator for Interstates. 'It saved a lot of time in the field.'"


Read more at ecmweb.com

Published September 18, 2013 by Amy Florence Fischbach

FMI Releases 2010 Contractor Prefabrication Survey Report

EC&M: Electrical Construction & Maintenance
Electrical contractors continue to seek a competitive edge by prefabricating more of their work.


"As the construction industry continues to struggle with the challenges of a long recession, higher competition, lower profit margins, and fewer project starts, mechanical/HVAC and electrical contractors are continuing to seek a competitive edge by prefabricating more of their work. Prefabrication offers many benefits to those who can master these capabilities, including savings on labor and equipment, higher quality, improved safety conditions, and schedule improvement."


“'The potential for labor and equipment savings by increasing prefabrication work is substantial,' says Ethan Cowles, report co-author and FMI consultant. 'However, in order to attain these savings, high-dollar investments need to be made, and a clear set of goals, objectives, and measurements should be considered before blindly investing company resources.'”


Read more at ecmweb.com

Published May 1, 2010 by Electrical Construction and Maintenance

Prefabricated Components

Electrical Contractor: Power & Integrated Building Systems

"Using prefabricated and preassembled electrical components often can bring substantial cost savings, especially on large projects such as hotels and hospitals that have a large number of identical layouts.

Some contractors have used preassembled products for years, others are trying them for the first time, while there are some who have yet to do so.

And while labor issues that once restrained the practice of assembling electrical parts off the job site are less an issue today, some contractors say many electricians in the field are not happy when prefabricated assemblies are used, feeling that they devalue their skills and experience and ultimately could threaten jobs."


"Among the most-used prefab components are quick pulls, boxes with devices, precut conduit and precut MC, said Robert Moeller, Sachs Electric vice president of technology.

Other prefabricated components frequently used by Sachs Electric include light fixture brackets, rough-in electrical systems, power and data communications box assemblies, conduit and large pipe bends, customized nipples for rigid pipe, component assemblies, and box supports for concrete pours.

'The benefits are labor savings and schedule savings as well as emergency benefits to field personnel when standard ordering and delivery of supplies and tools would delay an installation,' Moeller added. 'They also help a job progress when there are unanticipated schedule changes.'

'During the estimate process,' said Moeller, 'we evaluate if there is an opportunity to use prefabricated components. When there is, we generally incorporate these and other methods into the project to render cost and time savings.'”


Read more at ecmag.com

Published January 2005 by Jeff Griffin (Electrical Contractor Magazine)