Frank Averill Provides a Concise Guide to Prefabrication

What is Prefabrication?

According to Averill, “ A simple definition of prefabrication is activities that can be productively completed away from the installation location or even away from the job site entirely. The process by which complex units, structures, or even entire buildings are assembled at a centralized location and then transported specifically-made to their destination for installation.” As an example, imagine a simple outdoor tool shed. Whereas most construction firms would typically show up at the location of the shed with the base components and proceed to build it from the ground up, a company utilizing prefabrication would construct the shed in its entirety at their facilities.

A Short History of Prefabrication

Prefabrication is by no means a new concept in construction. One of the world’s oldest known engineered roadways, England’s “Sweet Track” dated at around 3800 BC, is thought by scholars to have utilized prefabricated timber sections built off-site and then brought fully completed to their ultimate destination. Closer to the present, in the 19th century, the British Empire made use of houses prefabricated in the United Kingdom that were then transported across the globe by steam-liners and wooden ships to help speed up the colonization of Australia.

Prefabrication in Electrical Contracting

“Having the foresight, knowledge, and experience to implement prefabrication provides a significant benefit to a company’s productivity on any project” claims Averill. “Instead of workers meticulously building and installing electrical systems on-site, one piece at a time-often hampered by the activities of other tradespeople-electrical contractors can instead design and manufacture complex systems ahead of time. As a result, we can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a job.”

The Benefits of Prefabrication

Project Duration

According to Averill, the benefits have a major impact in the construction project that go beyond that of the electrical contractor. Large scale complex construction projects consist of several companies that work independently from each other but collaborate their efforts for the final product. By implementing prefabrication, Averill Electric has been able to decouple a sequence of work from a sequence of time on the project. Typically, the electrical work must wait for a building to be weather-proofed before wiring and electrical equipment can be brought to the job site. With prefabrication, large percentages of the labor hours can begin at the Averill Electric Prefab facility in the early stages of the project well before the schedule would dictate. This decoupling of labor hours results in less manpower on the job site and significantly reduces the project duration. The nature of prefabrication also reduces task duration due to its simplified process, which in turn, again reduces project duration.

Efficiency

With prefabrication, several advantages exist, among them are fewer material returns, less material handling, less material wasted, improved labor efficiencies, and improved labor productivity. With Averill Electric prefabrication, products are packaged in a specific manner in which materials are sequentially installed. Materials are placed in “kits” that contain prefab assemblies packaged by area or by room. These kits are delivered to the exact location of the installation in a “just in time” manner. The kits contain all materials, fasteners, prefab drawings, and everything else needed to complete the work. Kits facilitate effective scheduling based on workflow and reduce task durations, resulting in the completion of work in less time compared to conventional construction methods.

Environmental Factors

It is clear the environmental effect of conventional construction is a major driving force behind Averill Electric’s efforts. As Averill stated, “It bothers me to see the waste that goes on with traditional construction. When I see scrap material being loaded into a dumpster and hauled off to some landfill, I think of all the resources that were used to get that material to the job site. Take a simple piece of wood stud. The wood had to come from a tree, a tree that was cut down, usually by some large piece of equipment running on fossil fuel. The equipment has a heavy equipment operator running the machinery using labor resources. The tree is then hauled to a wood mill, using more fossil fuel and manpower to transport the tree. The mill uses manpower and other energy resources to produce the lumber. That lumber is then transported to a distributor, and so on, and so on. Even recycling materials is still utilizing multiple resources. The key is to reduce resource utilization. I would rather see all that effort put towards building a hospital, school or low-cost housing. If we can reduce the waste in constructing our buildings, we will reduce pollution, reduce the cost to build the structures we need and in turn increase the quality of life for everyone.”

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Frank Averill

Frank Averill

I am focused on innovating the construction industry, with a goal of saving the environment for the future of all mankind.