By: Jeff Taylor, RK Electrical Assistant Operations Manager
Prefabrication is rapidly growing and changing the construction industry, design and customization are major factors for its success. Prefabrication can offer more building options and greater flexibility than traditional construction including high performing thermal and acoustic walls, floors and ceilings with the use of durable and sustainable materials.
Prefabrication is relatively new in electrical construction but is rapidly increasing. As electricians begin to recognize the savings that prefabrication can provide, more are joining the ranks.
PREFABRICATION INVOLVES THREE MAIN PHASES:
- Structural: Beams, columns and other structural components are manufactured to be easily transported and installed on the construction site.
- Panels: Elements such as insulation, utilities, waterproofing and cladding are designed to allow for rapid assembly and easy transportation.
- Modular Construction: Assembly of the factory-finished modules or products to form complete systems.
The concept is so versatile that it can meet the needs of a variety of industries including power and energy, oil and gas, residential and healthcare to name a few. The benefits of prefabrication and routine inspections by trained professionals in a clean and controlled environment have catapulted the evolution of prefabrication. Building information modeling (BIM) has also influenced the design and construction processes as well as cross-trade collaboration, enabling these types of projects to be built on a much larger scale.
INNOVATIVE EQUIPMENT HAS A STRONG IMPACT ON ELECTRICAL PREFABRICATION:
- Smart benders allow a specific angle to be entered into the machine without having to calculate the spring-back on the conduit. This not only speeds up the process but also allows less experienced apprentices to perform custom bends with much less supervision.
- Automatic whip cutters are used to cut metal clad cable. They allow a 1,000 foot reel to be set up, a specific cutting length to be entered and the user to walk away while it performs all of the cuts. The old process required at least two people to perform the work. With this equipment, contractors are able to utilize their labor force in other important stages of the production process.
The future of prefabrication includes integrating with other trades and, at RK Electrical, we are embracing this collaboration. Our team is incorporating prefabricated electrical components such as wall rough-ins, panel builds and lighting packages into modular data center skids built by RK Mission Critical. We are also utilizing some of the newest innovative equipment on the market to get the jobs done.