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Eliminating the Eight Wastes of Lean Construction through Kitting and Prefabrication

KITTING

The process in which individual components are grouped, packaged and delivered together as one unit to a particular area for installation. 

PREFABRICATION

Joining multiple components into a single assembly to be installed as one unit.

DEFECTS

Many defects arise from incomplete installations of materials, rather than faulty installations. A kit includes each component needed to ensure proper—and complete—installation.

A jobsite is a chaotic environment. Electricians are often pulled from one task to another to meet the demands of changing schedules. At the EMF (Eckardt Manufacturing Facility), our electricians are able to stay on task, which improves the quality of installation.

OVERPRODUCTION

To keep up with the modern job schedule, trade contractors often keep an abundance of stock on a job site, just in case they are pulled to a new task by the GC. By utilizing kitting at the EMF, we can stage kits offsite, ready to be delivered JIT. This keeps staged installation stock off the job site until needed.

Some assemblies, such as large overhead racks or underground duct banks, would require huge crews onsite, stocks of material, equipment, and ample time to construct in each area. Prefabrication takes all of those components off of the job site, leaving plenty of space (and time) for other trades to get to work.

WAITING

Nearly 60% of an electrician’s time is spent looking for, gathering, and moving material. Often, only one person on the crew is necessary to get that material to the work area, yet the entire crew waits for the material to arrive in their work area. Kitting brings every piece of material to the work area, with no waiting around.

At Eckardt, we see prefab as a necessary tool used to keep up with the increasing pace of construction schedules. A prefabricated assembly greatly reduces the time spent on installation in the field, allowing other trades to get into areas quicker than ever before.

NON-UTILIZED TALENT

Many electrical installations do not require substantial experience to complete, other than the knowledge of the components needed to complete the task. This knowledge requirement keeps experienced workers overseeing simple tasks, instead of utilizing their skills on more complicated tasks. Kitting empowers less-experienced workers to complete tasks on their own.

This is best explained by an example. One of the most high-skilled tasks for an experienced electrician is bending conduit. In a typical commercial project, there are hundreds, even thousands, of bends required. Without prefab, you would need highly-skilled, pipe-bending journeymen spread throughout your job site to ensure that each bend was completed in time for installation. When the task of bending pipe is complete, they are overqualified for the remaining work, and therefore, underutilized. Today, a team of expert electricians bend nearly 100% of our conduit in the EMF, so our high-skill labor can be deployed to truly high-skill tasks.

TRANSPORTATION

Different components are often sourced through different vendors. Every day, traditional job sites receive multiple shipments from multiple vendors to service a single area. Kitting consolidates those shipments to a single shipment from the EMF.

In the same way that kitting reduces the number of shipments to a job site, prefab also consolidates shipping. Once assembled, these components arrive at the job site in a single shipment. This greatly reduces the impact of transportation on the job site.

INVENTORY

Kits are produced in the EMF and are only shipped to the job site when needed (JIT). This keeps unnecessary stock off the job site.

Prefab assemblies are produced in the EMF and are only shipped to the jobs site when needed (JIT). This keeps unnecessary stock off the job site.

MOTION

Did we mention that 60% of time spent on a job site is in material handling? Kitting eliminates the time devoted to traveling to your material storage area, locating the proper components, transporting them to the work area, unpackaging them, and staging them for installation.

Prefabrication reduces the number of “joints”—any place where components are physically connected—that are formed on a jobsite. With a reduction in joints comes a reduction in total pieces. Much less motion is required to move one assembly of 100 components than to move 100 components (in their original packaging) separately.

EXTRA PROCESSING

A standard set of electrical drawings is hardly an installation guide. Instead, it is up to the electrician to synthesize the information found in the drawings and specs, create a purchase order of material, and sequence their installation methods. With kitting, the onsite crew receives a box containing every component needed to complete the installation, along with detailed installation instructions. This reduces the amount on unproductive time an electrician spends planning and procuring the installation.

Prefabrication eliminates many of the unproductive job site responsibilities of our electricians. Much like with kitting, our electricians no longer have to plan their buy list or complex installation methods. Instead, they only have to receive the fabricated assembly and install it into the space. Where they were once dealing with many components, they are now only installing a single assembly.