Saving Time. Adding Value. How Pre-Fabrication is Changing Our Business

By Jason Grove, Fabrication Foreman

In a sense there are three trades that work out of our structural fab shops – electricians, welders ... and firemen. 

As often as we’re called upon from jobsites with unique fabrication needs – and some with very “creative” deadlines – thinking outside the box and putting out fires has become a large part of what we do. 

And we thrive on the challenge. 

We’re small, but mighty. We run a lean ship and we work as a team. No two days are the same here, and quite honestly, there hasn’t been two things built here that have been the same, either. 

Our prefab work applies to various degrees on all types of projects; from jobs where we provide one service to ones when we’re doing the gamut of electrical, mechanical, civil and fabrication.

Our product catalog is essentially a blank canvas. What we’re asked to fabricate is often a product of the job foreman’s imagination. We take what someone thinks up on a jobsite to solve a problem, and we make it a reality. 

In short, we prefabricate structural steel, many times with the electrical already integrated. So while other teams are clearing off the jobsite and doing the grounding, we’re here in a controlled environment getting ahead of the game. 

In our experience, we might not have the same opportunity to fabricate onsite. Weather can be bad. Space can be lacking. Material or a piece of equipment we need might not be there. If we can save one, two or three steps on a project we know at the end of the job it’s going to save time and going to save money.

Here, we marry the structural and electrical. And it keeps more of our work – and therefore our quality control – in-house. Jobsites get the structural steel built to spec, partially or fully assembled, and with electrical panels and conduit already mounted. Integration of these disciplines is a huge step toward greater efficiency on a project.

Our ability to react quickly and build custom came in handy recently on a large compressor station job. The supervisor ordered compressor exhaust made of thin, 30-inch pipe and approached me and asked if we could weld them up and create the exhaust. The problem he had is that it should have been done four weeks prior by another company, who for whatever reason hadn’t met the deadline. 

I said, “Send it down and we’ll take a look.” In this situation working as a team is critical, because we didn’t go to the site, but rather relied on the supervisor to take hard measurements on everything to make it fit right. We got right to work and had it welded and shipped in three days. After a few days I called the supervisor to ask how the install went and he told me “It went together like butter.” 

That’s what I like to hear. And frankly it’s what I expected to hear, but instead of celebrating the win we were already knee-deep solving another challenge. It’s what we do.