There are two factors to saving labor. The highest cost in most construction projects is labor. Saving labor hours can make a difference in the profitability of the project. The other factor is the availability of licensed electricians. When you can’t find more labor, one answer is to use what you have more efficiently. There is an opportunity to use innovative new products that save labor on most projects.
Prefabrication of systems is expected in the electrical construction industry. One such application uses custom cut duct bank spacers (aka conduit spacers) that are cut out of a sheet of plastic. This allows electrical contractors to prefabricate duct banks outside of the trench and drop them into the trench in sections. This is a safer and faster method of installing underground conduit. The workers are in the hazardous trench for less time. If the trench is dug at the same time as the bank is being built, the trench is open for less time which is less disruption to job site traffic. These conduit spacers are more stable than multi-part systems, plus they don’t have to be assembled.
Anytime one electrician can be used in place of two, the labor cost is cut in half. For example, an electrician can install a Hangerlok conduit or cable clamps along the cable or conduit run route. Hangerloks can be fastened directly to the wall, on the strut, or threaded rods. Then it only takes one electrician to push the conduit or cable into the clamp, which causes it to snap closed securely.
Suppose one product can perform the function of multiple products. In that case, there are multiple lines of savings, including the product cost, the cost of purchasing, the cost of inventory, and the cost of installation. Like in the case of the American Connectors, twist-on MC Cable Connectors perform their connecting function and act as a strain relief and a ground. These connectors do not require a tool to be installed. Anytime you do not need a tool to install, there are labor savings.
Many new products on the market perform better than the traditional materials or designs. For example, Fiberglass Conduit has a lower coefficient of friction so that you can pull cable for farther between boxes. Therefore, the project can cut back on the number of junction boxes needed. It also does not need as much support as a PVC conduit. Whenever items are deleted from the list of materials, you once again have multiple lines of savings.
Products redesigned from traditional metal to plastic benefit from not being conductive.
This means the electrician does not have to install grounding or bonding. Underground Devices Cable Racks is a good example of the benefits of using a non-metallic material. Another benefit for the electrician is that plastic isn’t sharp to work with. An easily handled product is also faster to install.
Various pre-formed supports save time because traditionally, the electrical crew builds supporting structures for their conduit in one form or another. One of these products is the In-Slab Conduit Supports. These molded reinforced polypropylene supports are secured to the ground by rebar or by a fastener to a wood form deck. They click together so all of the conduit line up neatly as they exit the concrete slab.
Some products save labor by using a faster method of installation. An example of this is the Telescoping intumescent firestops that replace a messy method of fire-stopping around conduit penetrations. The traditional method of fire-stopping is an application of a caulk-like goo. It is a very messy process that leaves the penetration closed. Intumescent fire stops close only when the fire is present, allowing for expansion and contraction of the conduit.
So to recap, there are a few considerations when looking at products that save labor.
Characteristics to Look for in Labor Saving Products:
- Performs better
- Help you prefabricate systems
- Make work safer
- Make it easy for one worker to do the job alone.
- Perform multiple functions (deleting other products)
- No tool required
- Made of plastic
- Preformed supports (replacing in-house built)
- Use a better method of installation
Remember, saving labor keeps your electrical project on time and budget.