by Bob Manning
The construction industry has seen countless changes over the years, especially in the last decade or two. The electrical industry is no different. We’ve seen technology transform the way we work, at almost every level of the company. The tools we use today have streamlined everything from the bidding process to the planning process, to coordinating with other subcontractors, to wrapping up the project when the building is complete. Advanced software and hardware have enabled companies like Interstate to move to a lean construction model that incorporates prefabrication and extensive 3D modeling.
While we see countless examples of these advances every day, I’ll outline a recent one that saved our team man-hours and significantly helped reduce our client’s budget. One of our client’s newly constructed buildings features a gorgeous curved hallway that serves as the main focal point for visitors. The room is complete with high-end finishes and recessed lighting that has to follow the gradual curve of the hallway while maintaining even spacing between fixtures.
Years ago, this would have taken two electricians a full week to determine the exact placement of each light and ensure that it wouldn’t interfere with other infrastructure devices in the ceiling. That includes measuring multiple times per fixture, marking the location on the (unfinished) floor, checking that there’s no other infrastructure in the way, and using a string to line up the correct placement on the ceiling with the marking on the floor. In the past, coordination between trades on projects like this one may have required building a scale model with pipe cleaners and straws!
For this project it took one technician a matter of hours to plot the exact location of each fixture using the building’s 3D drawings and a Trimble unit to project laser markings. Clash detection was previously performed using the coordinated 3D model, which saved time not only for the electricians, but also for the subcontractors. And best of all, the lights were installed the same day because they were prefabricated at our offsite facility.
This is just one example, but we see the benefits of these technological advances in every one of our projects. Prefabrication, 3D modeling, and other tools at our disposal help reduce the amount of work that happens physically onsite, which translates to cleaner job sites, reduced timelines, and more flexibility. Today, these are all important tools as construction timelines are condensed and budgets are stricter. Traditionally, the manpower required on a large scale job increased throughout the project until it was near completion, with additional employees needed at the jobsite for assembly, installation, etc.
These advances, and especially Interstate’s use of prefabrication, helps spread the workload across the project timeline. This reduces the number of people required on the jobsite, an important benefit during the COVID pandemic, and helps Interstate shift to any changing timelines or adjusted deadlines.
If you’d like to find out more about our prefabrication capabilities, or if you or someone you know are interested in joining the Interstate team, get in touch at https://iesc1.com/.
Bob Manning is general project superintendent at Interstate Electrical Services Corporation.