In some ways, electrical contractors are becoming manufacturers. Companies of all sizes are prefabri- cating and modularizing work before the equipment
shows up on the construction site. While some big operators have been doing it for years, small and mid-sized
contractors still face a decision: either do it in-house or
find someone to do the work for them. As new prefab
startups bring electrical services to contractors in most
regions of the country, there are more choices than ever.
While prefabrication started with many highly
repetitive tasks, contractors today can go as far as constructing whole floors of an office building, data center
or factory in the relative comfort of their own shops
or warehouses, then installing them later in the nearly
finished structures. Prefab lowers labor and material
costs and reduces time spent at the job site.
With short project deadlines, crowded job sites,
limited staging areas and unpredictable weather, most
contractors understand the benefits of prefabrication.
However, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
All about the management
Prefab is a fringe benefit of proper project management, according to George Elles, owner of Electrical Construction Services
(ECS), Houston. Transitioning parts of a project to a prefab shop
might make project managers nervous, since adroit planning and
a well-organized project are imperative for prefab to succeed.
Companies such as ECS offer services to help contractors set
up their own prefab operations, no matter their size. Elles typi-
cally comes on-site to conduct a facility survey, assess a prefab
space’s layout design, perform a cost analysis, and present a pro-
posal that covers what the contractor will need to do and how
ECS can move them through that process. Elles helps procure
necessary equipment—including items such as benders, cutters,
jigs, special printers and programs for labeling, tagging, etc.—
and guides the actual buildout. Once the system is in operation,
he returns every three months or so for a “tuneup.”
Elles has been doing this since 2000 and has worked with
contractors from coast to coast.
For a contractor to get into prefab, there is one condition.
the world of
> FOCUS BY CLAIRE SWEDBERG
ELECTRICALCONTRACTOR | APR. 16 | WWW.ECMAG.COM