Senior Reporter Mike Sunnucks took a look at our newest enterprise, a prefabrication shop in Tempe, Ariz. that is already changing the way our clients approach construction. Why? Cost savings, time efficiencies and enhanced safety.
Here’s the article…
The List: Kitchell looks to change construction game via prefabrication
Kitchell Corp. — one of the region’s largest construction contractors — is expanding its use of prefabrication to build components for construction projects.
Kitchell’s Scott Root and Brent Moszeter hope the prefabrication idea revolutionizes the construction business. “We want to build projects like Lego blocks,” Moszeter said.
Kitchell has a 33,000-square-foot center in Tempe where workers are deployed to build components such as bathrooms, walls, drywall sheets, window frames and electrical systems.
The prefabricated components then are trucked to construction sites. “We set the shop up as an assembly line,” said Moszeter, a senior project superintendent for Phoenix-based Kitchell.“We can do three jobs at once.” Moszeter said the prefab center is different than other centralized operations set up by builders because components are built to project and customer specifications. Others prefabs tend to be cookie- cutter productions centers.
The Kitchell center is located near Kyrene and Elliot roads in Tempe. Kitchell used the prefab center to make bathrooms for a $125 million project at the Chandler Regional Medical Center. Prefabrication saved $4 million on that project. The Tempe center is being used for Kitchell’s project on the emergency room at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Like other assembly lines and production facilities, Moszeter and Root said workers can stay focused on what they are building, projects can get going before government approvals and less employees are
needed for jobs.
“You can shave weeks or months off a project schedule,” Root said. Moszeter said a centralized work flow can mean fewer workers are needed per project, and Kitchell can keep hard-to-find tradesmen such as framers busy.
Kitchell also has 10,000 square feet of offices at the center, which is used for design, project management, 3-D printing and a virtual reality studio to work with subcontractors and customers on projects.
The prefab center is swamp-cooled but still can have workers out of Phoenix’s desert heat. Prefabrication has been more common in Europe and Asia than the U.S., but the concept is growing. It’s also becoming more prevalent in construction for certain sectors. Prefab and modularization at work is being done on 49 percent of hospital and health care and 42 percent of education and manufacturing construction projects in the U.S., according to a study McGraw-Hill Construction.