Modular construction, also known as prefabrication, has been around for many generations. In fact, beginning in the early 1900s and continuing through the mid-1940s, Sears & Roebuck sold as many as 75,000 home kits through their iconic catalog. Yet, this model wasn’t a “one size fits all” proposition. Sears promoted 400 possible options—from cute Capes and compact bungalows to grand Tudor-style homes— at a variety of price points to meet the needs and budgets of American families.
Now, because this concept offers tremendous adaptability as well as significant cost-savings, there’s a renewed interest in integrating prefab construction into both commercial and residential development.
The introduction of new tools including Building Information Modeling (BIM) has played an important role in the evolution of prefabrication construction. This digital technology helps contractors visualize the scope of work, more accurately estimate the cost of materials and labor, and eliminate waste. With an emphasis on precise advance planning, prefabrication is both innovative and economical, resulting in greater consistency and uniformity.
And while prefabrication has long been utilized in traditional construction circles, the practice is now making inroads in electrical contracting.
At JM Electrical, we are investing in a new facility specifically designed to house our prefab production division in Woburn, a nearby community to our Lynnfield, Massachusetts headquarters. We believe this new venture will increase productivity by eliminating weather delays, create greater efficiencies, abbreviate project timelines, and allow for work schedules that accommodate the changing needs of our employees, all in a safe, controlled environment. Equally important, prefab and modular construction offers many “green” benefits, including the ability to more easily recycle materials.
Further, this new offering will allow us to hire additional staff, expand our apprenticeship program, and offer students the kind of real-world experience that will serve them when they enter the profession after graduating from a vocational training program, college, or institutions specializing in technology and the trades.
Our commitment to the prefabrication process means our team can assemble countless components offsite, from Terminal Box Controllers to Full DDC Panels, delivering completed units to the job site for installation. This will expedite project timelines, permitting us to work simultaneously on site and at our facility.
The clear advantages of prefabrication are attracting considerable attention from architects, engineers, contractors, and clients alike. This new approach to a tried, true, and proven practice will no doubt help drive greater innovation within the construction industry.
By: Adam Palmer, Director of Operations and Project Executive, JM Electrical Company, Inc.