According to a report, the United States’ electrical trade industry is recording lower productivity each year. But recently, electrical contractors have become savvier. They embraced technologies and new practices to reduce labor hours and manage a project more efficiently. They have learned to maximize apprenticeship and invest in time-saving task management software, which helped them reduce costs.
Clients keep on asking more from electrical contractors due to the demand for modern buildings. That said, they face more pressure in boosting efficiency and saving time compared to other tradespeople. Besides, they need to keep up with the construction team’s pace, which is also doing its best to speed things up and deliver the project, ideally, before the deadline.
Based on industry analyses, implementing tools in carrying out electrical contracting projects is a must if minimizing wasted hours is a priority. Implementing advanced project planning software has dramatically increased electrical trade companies’ productivity, as we’ve seen in our previous blogs. Industry-specific project management software such as Pro Crew Schedule has been streamlining processes in improving tasks like project scheduling, monitoring progress, disseminating plans and instructions, communicating, and so on.
Struggles of Electrical Contractors to Save Time and Manage a Project
Clients are becoming more demanding on the details of their buildings. The problem is that they prefer greater functionality, but the job details are vague since they aren’t proficient in the electrical field. As a result, electrical contractors consume more time designing systems and develop a plan that will meet the client’s requirements.
Another problem is the frequent change of job details when the project is already ongoing. Although job change conditions are discussed in the contract, clients still tend to change their minds too often that contractors need to become more flexible and respond to new requests quickly.
New technologies like project planning software and Wireless lighting control products are some solutions that can help. Cloud-based digital tools, as you already know, diminish the time spent on paper works and project management, which are both time-consuming. On the other hand, wireless lighting components can reduce installation time by 70 percent and can be adjusted easily without having to redo the wirings. This means electrical contractors can do more in lesser time with lesser risks.
Apart from using new technologies, electrical contractors are presented with more options on how they can make their work faster without compromising quality. Below is a rundown of our suggestions on how to speed things up at the site.
I – Optimizing Speed through Installation Factors
Several factors are affecting electrical installation time in construction projects. They include busways, conductors, wirings, and raceways. The good news is that they can be optimized so electrical contractors can save time. There are other sensible recommendations on improving commercial electrical installation speed from the use EMT (electrical metallic tubing) raceways to shift to I-line busways.
1. Type of busway
Busways have become one of the most critical factors in electrical installation. In the past years, busways have become an alternative to cable and conduit in large buildings as they are easier to configure and less expensive. But among the types of busways, using I-line is noted to be the easiest to use and can give electrical contractors a good advantage if they want to speed things up at the site.
2. Wiring method
There are a plethora of regulations regarding electrical wiring systems, giving electricians little control. The rules may change several times yearly, and electrical contractors will have to align their wiring methods to these changes.
Although it sounds like electrical tradespeople will never be able to stick with a single method, they have the option to standardize some activities before wiring the components. Preparing and organizing parts, straightening the cables out to make them quicker to slip through holes, and packing electrical boxes are some activities that can remain constant in every wiring method. Standardizing them can make the work much easier and faster.
3. Type of raceway
Raceways are used in electrical installations to protect cables from corrosion, heat, humidity, water, and other physical threats that may lead to the failure of electrical distribution or risks of fire. There are many types of raceway, but plastics and metals are most commonly used.
However, among the types of raceways available in the market, the EMT or electrical metal tubing raceway is easiest to install. Since it is made from galvanized steel, EMTs are generally lightweight, easy to bend, and fast to cut. That said, electrical contractors can save a lot of time during their installation.
II – IncreasingSpeed through Electrical Components
Choosing the right electrical components is another way to save time in commercial electrical installation. The right components will save you from possible errors and accidents, eliminating the time needed for rework or repair.
On that note, electrical contractors should be cautious in the procurement of vital electrical components, including service entrance, lighting, feeders, distribution panelboard, convenience outlets, branches, emergency lighting, and signals, among many others.
Here are some other suggestions on how you can make things easier using the components mentioned earlier:
4. Service Entrance
A service entrance is where electricity from the grid is converted to usable electricity in buildings. In construction projects, a service entrance could be the wires from a utility pole to the building. But in a simple residential installation, a service entrance could be a fuse box or a circuit breaker. On the other hand, a service entrance in commercial installations could be the main switches.
Choosing the best service entrance to use in a particular structure is simpler than you think. Knowing the building architecture and identifying the nearest power sources are all it takes to make installation a breeze. To make the work even faster, you can set the service entrance as close as possible to the external grid.
5. Distribution Panelboard
The distribution panelboard, or what is commonly known as the fuse box, is the component that distributes electricity throughout the building. It holds several switches, fuses, and wires. So, to make its installation faster, you can pick a panelboard with wider wiring space, color labels for the wirings and fuses, and easy-to-open handles. Again, you can consider keeping the distribution panel closer to the service board for quicker setting up.
Lighting fixtures are usually fitted towards the end of an electrical installation. But even so, deciding on the design you want for the building can help you decide on the other components and wiring method.
Outlets make it possible for occupants to use other amenities, which are now mostly powered by electricity. From appliances to tools to gadgets and other electronics, they need electricity to function, hence making outlets vital parts of any electrical installation.
So, when installing outlets, first determine the needs of the building. Start with identifying the population of each room. Furthermore, other electrical systems in the building, especially the cables, influence the type of socket you install. That said, improving speed through outlets exist during the pre-outlet installation.
8. Emergency Light and Signal
Like your lighting fixtures, emergency lights and signals are installed toward the end of the project, so, in terms of improving speed, all you can do here is to place them in areas that are most conducive for easy wiring.
9. Branch Circuits and Feeders
Using branch circuits and feeders depends on the distribution boards and service entrance you installed. So when it comes to optimizing speed with regards to branch circuits and feeders, selecting the best type of panel board for distribution, as discussed above, is what you can do.
III – Speeding Up on Scheduling Projects
All construction projects are time-constrained, and so are electrical installations in buildings. Electrical tradespeople need to negotiate schedules, which should be reasonable as other construction aspects come after electrical installation, such as painting and drywall installation. Therefore, it will be wise to use digital tools to help you organize activities and their timelines and allow you to share them with your crew and your contractor conveniently.
10. Scheduling Project Softwares
Digital tools are making processes faster and easier in the construction industry and its related trades. With electrical contractors using software to write their crew members’ daily schedules, they no longer have to spend so much time printing and traveling from the office to the site. Instead, they focus on more critical activities necessary for growing the business or managing other projects.
Furthermore, scheduling project software can eliminate misunderstandings that may lead to costly errors. This is especially useful when there are sudden changes in the job order.
Getting Electrical Installation Right
As with construction, the goals in carrying out electrical installation activities will depend on what you prioritize. Will it be quality output or will it be speed? Most of the time, you cannot achieve both. In situations where you need to choose one, always opt for quality work.
However, there are time-cutting measures to help you avoid going overdue. Using technology, choosing the right components, good system design, and well-planned activities can dramatically increase your speed. Additionally, they can help you cut expenses and make your clients happier.