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How Can Electrical Prefabrication Help You Save Time and Improve Profits?

by Chris Lee | June 15th, 2018

A recent research study by ELECTRI International took a solid look at how prefabrication in construction can help you save time and effort, improving your overhead expenses. The report looked at three levels of tactics that could be used by contractors: Beginning prefabricators, contractors wanting to increase prefabrication efforts and advanced prefabricators who benefit from a few new tactics. The study found that contractors saw an improvement in labor costs by 15-35%. But that's not the only place where prefabrication can save your construction business money. Here's an overview of how to use prefabrication in your business.

How Can Electrical Prefabrication Help You Save Time and Improve Profits?

Reduce Labor Costs

So exactly how does using prefabrication save you time and money in the field? To start, let's look at the prefabrication process. You'll want to look for tasks that can be prefabricated prior to using them in the field. You could prefabricate wiring devices, MC cable whips, temporary power systems, temporary lighting, electrical assemblies and bending conduit, among others.

By starting small, you can see what works and what doesn't work for your company. You also have the option to purchase prefabricated assemblies from your supplier. But prefabrication goes well past simply putting a few parts together in the shop. It takes some amount of planning. Start planning your prefabrication strategy by working with a project manager and work foreman who are willing to try using prefabricated components on their project.

You can also see reduced labor costs in prefabricating assemblies through improved safety.

Reduce Product Cost

You can also reduce your material costs for your projects by prefabricating. This can happen in a number of ways. If you're able to standardize your parts across a range of projects and assemblies, you can often save money by buying in bulk, allowing you to take advantage of case or quantity price breaks. Though this may mean purchasing a more expensive electrical box, as one example, the price break often more than makes up the difference in cost.

When you plan on prefabricating some portion of your projects, you can use down time between jobs to put together assemblies for use in the field, helping reduce overtime and job site expenses. You can also pay less than a journeyman's jobsite wage provided that you have someone competent supervising the groups doing the assembly.

If you need to free up space in your warehouse to assemble prefabricated parts, you can achieve this in a number of ways. If you have older tools that are no longer being used, material from old projects that were left over or similar dead space in your shop, clearing out that space can help you improve your prefabrication process. You can often contact your suppliers to see if they'll buy back older, unused material.

This also helps speed up the installation process because your crew is already familiar with how to install those exact materials, as they install them regularly. You can discover new suppliers who will offer quantity breaks or even fully prefabricated assemblies through online searches or at larger trade shows.

Provides Project Collaboration

If you're working on a project that has a slightly different material specified, that doesn't mean you're required to use that particular product. In many cases, that specific product may simply be one that the architect or engineer is most familiar with. It's fairly easy to simply contact that professional and ask for an exception so that you can provide their client, the owner, with a better cost for the same quality of work.

But asking for an exception doesn't need to eat into your profits or raise your overhead significantly. To make this part of the process easier, keep electronic and paper copies of the specifications for your assemblies on hand so that you can email or fax them to the firm handling the project when you ask for an exception. Because you already have everything on hand, the process of providing that documentation is almost effortless.

Reduce Estimating Costs

One area many contractors miss an opportunity to save time with prefabrication is in estimating. Because estimating takes place outside of specific projects, it's part of your company's overhead, which cuts into your business' profitability. High-quality estimating software provides you with the opportunity to create your own assemblies. With these assemblies in the system, it's much simpler and faster to add them to your count during the takeoff process. That helps significantly reduce the amount of time you spend in the office bidding projects and increases the amount of time you spend on the job site, making a solid profit.

When you take the time to add prefabrication concepts across your entire business, it takes that much less time to add those items to quotes, billing and similar aspects of your business going forward. Instead of having to add each individual part of the assembly to your takeoff sheet and final estimate, you can simply click the assembly, reducing the amount of work you're having to do to add them significantly. If your estimating software allows you to transfer your quotes into accounting, your accounting department can then simply move the appropriate number of assemblies over during billing and job costing processes, allowing you to stay on top of your company's finances.

When you use prefabricated components, you can drastically reduce the cost of your overhead, materials and labor, allowing you to make a higher profit margin by working more efficiently. This also applies to your estimating costs by making your estimating process go more smoothly. Esticom provides a highly comprehensive package of tools available in the marketplace. Every tool and feature you see in our completely free electrical estimating software trial will be included in the purchased version with no extra subscription costs or additional fees, including the ability to create your own customized prefabricated assemblies. Sign up today and discover a solid construction estimating software package can move your business.

Chris Lee
Chris Lee has an extensive background in preconstruction management as a former specialty contractor and business owner. As the Chief Estimator at Esticom, he’s helped thousands of specialty contractors digitize their preconstruction process to increase revenue and profitability while decreasing unnecessary overhead.

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