By Shannon Taft, marketing communications, Encore Electric
One thing we know for certain: change is inevitable, especially with construction technology. The other certainty: we’re only limited by what kind of technology our human brains can dream up next. So, while technology is tangible, it is built by people who want to improve their world. Whether the improvements are for comfort, safety or to create breakthroughs in healthcare, data centers or entertainment venues, the future is clear — there is so much to be excited about as we continue to develop new ideas.
At Encore Electric, we have designed our culture and decision-making around our collective passion for client success by constantly improving our employee’s knowledge and by utilizing technological advancements. We set high expectations and have developed stringent service, safety, and training standards to focus on mentoring, education, and building leaders for the betterment of our industry, our customers, and our employees.
New opportunities reveal themselves every day in construction. Grown from the past, Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and
Building Information Modeling (BIM) has evolved into Virtual Design & Construction (VDC). As technology has evolved,
so have expectations, processes, and demands on our employees. With these demands, we see so many career opportunities that just didn’t exist a few years ago.
“I started as an electrical apprentice. I was an electrician for more than 10 years before I really got to see the virtual design
side of construction,” said DJ Landis, a drafter with the Encore Electric VDC team. “I never thought I would be working in a 3D
model of what we were about to build and working together with the field team coordinating the installation.”
Resulting from all the technical changes in our industry, Encore Electric recently expanded our capabilities to a new, exciting level by moving our VDC team to work alongside our prefabrication team in a single facility.
“VDC has a broader spectrum in what it covers, this is not your dad’s CAD anymore,” said Samantha Hamilton, director of prefabrication and virtual construction at Encore Electric. “This facility allows us to work more closely together to ensure our craftspeople can move quickly and with certainty, their project will meet the precise needs of our clients. We have designed our space to improve processes, optimize workflow, and be adaptable to the complex projects that come through the door every day. Our communication lines have also improved, allowing our employees to customize solutions to meet our client’s needs most effectively, efficiently, and at greater cost and time savings.”
To begin their journey to becoming craftspeople in the field, most new apprentices start their first day on the job in this facility. It is there that they can live our company values and learn about the culture built on providing superior service to our customers, along with the basics of the electrical trade. In our controlled environment, under the watchful eyes of the center’s managers and supervisors, apprentices master the tools and techniques of professional electricians and are thoroughly grounded in the practices needed to operate safely once they put on their tools and go out to jobsites. They participate in the important task of setting up our craftspeople for success in the field and learn what they can expect when they take their first exciting steps on a construction project. While working at the prefabrication shop, they have a front row seat to experiencing how construction technology shapes our projects and can realize the many paths to career success within our company.
“I joined our VDC department because I have had an interest in useful technology since I was young. It has opened doors and given me skills that I can take with me for life. Construction technology seems to have a solid path forward due to its already proven track record. I don’t see the importance of construction technology lessening any time soon,” said Landis.
When you take a walk through the new Encore Electric facility, you witness a team of people who care deeply about their projects, work closely together to achieve the best possible outcome, and share the highlights of their incredible work. The excitement behind the commitment to our craftspeople resonates with every person, in every position because they know they are working for the betterment of the overall project and are proud of their contribution.
There are so many strategic reasons why this team was developed and positioned together in one location. In a study from McGraw Hill Construction in 2011, in addition to financial drivers, many benefits of prefabrication were validated. For example, time to complete the same tasks can be reduced by 66%, and quality control can be improved by 60%. It was also estimated that for every dollar spent on prefab, approximately 13% of the investment is expected to be returned as a measurable benefit to the project. While the specific numbers have no doubt changed over the years, the basic information regarding the benefits of putting in the effort in prefabrication stands true today. In fact, combining VDC and prefabrication is proven to reduce installation obstacles and alleviate schedule demands all the while putting safety as a priority. The real “why” we do what we do rests with our employees.
“The vision for the future is a long list of opportunities. We strive for continuous improvement and are excited about the unlimited opportunities ahead of us,” said Hamilton. “As a leader in our organization, I want nothing more than to see the team be successful. Our goal every day is to uncover every possible way to improve our processes, learning from our experiences, growing capabilities, trying new approaches, and offering the best service we can to our craftspeople in the field.”
The future of construction technology is exciting, ever-changing, and growing as we dream of new ideas. We must embrace the changes that will help us be at our very best. Investing in training, technology, and people will take us to levels we can’t even imagine today.