April 2015
print Print  email Email Archive


Also In This Issue Voters Pick Favorites
17th IBEW Photo Contest Winners read_more

Saving Lives
New OSHA Standards Tackle Safety Practices read_more

PBF Summary Annual Report read_more

December IEC Minutes read_more

NEBF Annual Notice read_more

North of 49°
Supreme Court of Canada Upholds Workers' Rights read_more

Au nord du 49° parallèle
La Cour suprême du Canada défend les droits des travailleurs read_more





Change of Address


  Cover Photo

Strategy, Training, Cultural Change
Technological Revolution Advances in Construction

The latest revolution in the commercial construction industry came in waves of trucks transporting prefabricated concrete walls and floors to construction sites. On those sites, the dwindling lines of cement trucks and fewer workers in black boots floating and finishing concrete were probably noted by all, but mostly taken to heart by the trades affected.

Today, similar market forces are altering the nature of electrical work in the construction industry — in a big way. It used to be that construction was predominantly done outdoors, within often harsh, unpredictable elements; no longer.

Whether it is called prefabrication or modularization, a growing segment of construction work is taking on the characteristics normally associated with manufacturing. Mass production and "lean" manufacturing techniques that increased the competitiveness of domestic industries like automobiles are being increasingly applied to electrical construction.

Electricians are constructing whole floors of hospitals, office buildings and even nuclear power plants on the ground in climate-controlled warehouses, only later installing them in the nearly finished structures. Labor and material costs are lower and time at the job site is reduced. For employers hoping to gain the upper hand in tight competition with nonunion companies, prefab will be an important tool, says IBEW International Representative John Bourne, who works on business development.

The marriage of construction and manufacturing has major consequences for contractors, electricians, the IBEW and the Electrical Training Alliance (formerly the NJATC).

"It's hard for some of us veteran electricians to get our heads around prefab," says Bourne. "But the bottom line is no one is better suited to master these methods and technology than IBEW members. If we don't, our contractors will lose big projects. When a customer is building a billion-dollar hotel, he is looking to reduce construction time. That's where prefab comes in. Mastering prefabrication is all about gaining more projects to keep more journeymen and apprentices working." read_more

  Local Lines

Officers Column Hill: Tomorrow is Here read_more
Chilia: A Shrunken Dream read_more

TransitionsTim Collins read_more

Organizing WireAsplundh Organizing Vote a Landslide in Indiana read_more

CircuitsFairPoint Workers Ratify New Agreements;
ADT Locks Out N.C.
Security Techs
Local 3 Project Helps Remake New York;
St. Louis IBEW Helps
Kick Off City's Pro
Soccer Season:
Young Workers on the Rise in the Fourth District read_more

LettersI'll Second That Motion;
Nice Spots;
Power Professionals;
Self-Serving Politicians read_more

In MemoriamJanuary 2015 read_more
February 2015 read_more

Who We AreLocal 1 Apprentice Thrives in Golden Gloves read_more