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Ingraining Prefabrication Into Everyday Work

George Cullen

As part of JP Cullen’s Lean Process Improvement culture, we are constantly looking for ways to do things faster, easier, and more efficiently. The internal steel stud walls were identified as an area where we could make significant gains using prefabrication. The two 115K SQFT office buildings in the Madison area that we are leading were prime candidates to implement panelized metal stud walls as a way to improve building schedule and quality by internalizing a process.

Trialed on an earlier project, the steel stud wall panels provided a host of benefits, including improved efficiency and ergonomics for JP Cullen’s carpenters.  A restructuring of the traditional build sequence allowed us to build the walls without the congestion of other tasks being performed in the same area. This was a good starting point, and there was a great amount of potential in the process.

Planning is the most critical part of any of JP Cullen’s prefabrication efforts. Each panel was modeled in our BIM software to minimize errors before drawings were provided to the crew. By focusing all efforts on one floor at a time, the crew was able to get a typical 120′ office floor ready for drywall in just 6 days.

Over 20,000 linear feet of walls were panelized between both of the buildings in just 10 weeks, an impressive 35% reduction in schedule. Crew composition was a hidden factor on this project. The steel stud panel crew’s relative lack of experience (nearly half were apprentices) may seem like a disadvantage. However, the crew first competed with, and then exceeded, the pace of work of the experienced stick frame crew. By training apprentices across the company on the wall panel process before moving them to the stick frame crew, JP Cullen will be blurring the line between traditional building and prefabrication. This will ingrain prefabrication not as something new, but as the way we do business.

JP Cullen has found that prefabrication is a good fit with our “Living Lean” philosophy; it emphasizes quality, safety, decreased building time, and cost reduction though lean methods.

If you have any questions relating to prefabrication or to see if this approach may be incorporated into any upcoming projects for your company, please feel free to reach out to Mike LaRue, Prefabrication Manager at JP Cullen.

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April 9, 2024