How Distribution Can Benefit Contractors With Prefabricated Electrical Solutions
By Marc Hobbs | November 29, 2021
Read Time: 3 Minutes
Commercial contractors are always looking for ways their projects can be done efficiently and at the lowest cost. Using prefabricated electrical systems from a distributor is one way to do that. With the help of a distributor, commercial contractors can reduce labor costs and deliver cost-effective electrical systems.
Understanding Electrical Prefabrication
Like putting together pieces of a puzzle, electrical prefabrication is the offsite assembly of various components that create a part of a larger electrical infrastructure. Prefab parts arrive at a job site already assembled and ready to be installed. Distributors can offer electrical prefabricated parts to commercial contractors, a typical example being a wall-box assembly (a bracket, ring, and wiring device).
Other examples of electrical prefabricated parts offered by distributors include:
- Light fixture whips and brackets
- Rough-in electrical systems
- Power and data communications box assemblies
- Prewired raceways
- Repetitive and large conduit bends and cuts
- Component assemblies
- Box supports for concrete pours
Using pre-assembled parts such as these make the onsite labor more efficient and cost effective since it’s not spent on small or repetitive assembly.
Why Electrical Prefabrication Is Valuable to Commercial Contractors
In a world where time is money, wherever electrical prefab parts can be used is an opportunity for contractors to benefit. Prefab parts are quicker and easier to install, and since the parts arrive onsite already assembled, there are fewer pieces to manage and keep track of (as opposed to kitting where all the pieces arrive together but still need to be assembled).
Since every situation is different, the cost effectiveness and efficiencies afforded by prefabricated electrical components make them worth considering for contractors. Prefabrication is most useful:
- When labor costs are high
- Where there are many repeated or similar standard sections of an electrical system
- Where jobsite space is scarce, such as big cities, high rises or remote areas with little storage
When commercial contractors work with a distributor for electrical prefabricated solutions, they get one unit – one part number – that comes in ready to go, which is a huge plus for efficiency and cost effectiveness.
What Contractors Need to Consider
There are clear advantages for contractors to utilize prefab electrical parts, however contractors can be hesitant for various reasons.
1. The uncertainty of trying a new solution is always a factor, particularly because it is one that is perceived will put people out of work. This reason alone causes resistance. But the reality is prefabricated parts makes labor more productive and efficient which increases the value of skilled workers.
2. The cost of purchasing prefabricated materials is higher, but it is offset by the reduced time and labor costs that would have been spent on assembly.
3. Some contractors set up their own prefab process to do the assemblies themselves with the perception they can better control the work and cost. Often they come to realize it is an arduous task with costly downsides including:
- Allocation of adequate space for assembly and the cost for that space
- Coordination of timely delivery of all elements
- Storage, identification and shipment of completed assemblies to the job site
- The cost of carrying all the inventory and managing the labor
All of these considerations point to not only the value of using prefabricated solutions, but also the value of utilizing a distributor to manage it all.
The Benefits of Using a Distributor for Electrical Prefab
Prefabrication involves assembly line production of repetitive components connected together. A distributor maintains a relationship with the manufacturer whose component parts make up these new assemblies, Manufacturers have sufficient tooling and production facilities in controlled environments to combine these products. With these relationships in place, it makes sense that a distributor can offer many solutions at an economical cost. Mass producing for the entire industry compared to smaller quantities built by a local contractor suggests a more competitive landscape.
Progressive contractors across the country realize the value of partnership where the distributor offers and embraces integrated material and logistical solutions, rather than simply supplying material.
Article originally published August 3, 2020 and updated for accuracy and relevance.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marc Hobbs has over 30 years of experience in electrical distribution. Marc has been with Wesco since 2017, helping streamline profitable solutions and create sustainable long-term growth and partnerships.