While all elements factor into the complexity of a project, wire and cable play a significant role in the success or failure of a job – especially when you consider that the materials are 15-20 percent of the total spend, and the installation time accounts for almost 20 percent.
The cost of wire and cable is often unable to be locked or fixed in a traditional sense because it’s based on metal copper, which fluctuates according to the COMEX index of commodities. This process is further complicated when projects are bid well in advance of when the product is actually needed. In some cases, this could be a period of years.
Due to the cost of the materials, contractors want to be as precise as possible when releasing individual runs to the project. Original estimates are prepared by calculating footages based on drawings for the project which may vary depending on the actual conditions once the pathways for the wire are installed allowing connection from end to end of circuits.
The lengths of the wire and cable must be broken down into individual products that reflect the proper color and size to represent the type of voltage and equipment being carried by the conductor.
Improving Processes With Wire and Cable Management
Contractors everywhere are constantly trying to improve the procurement, production and process around the handling of this essential element of any electrical installation. Success can be simplified by initiating the five C’s: consolidation, clarification, coordination, conversation, and completion.
Consolidation is when you identify the types, sizes, lengths, and colors of wire you need and negotiate a locked-in cost for the project.
By aggregating all the wire and cable along with the duration of the project, a contractor is more likely to find a partner who is willing to project out and find a way to procure a “fixed” price relative to what they have included in the price of their project.
Clarification is breaking down the types into individual runs and then separating them out by where they are installed in the project and when the schedule requires it.
Once the pricing side of the underlying commodity has been fixed, identifying each individual component is a critical step in making sure that the product is available prior to installation. Proper identification with your partners on the front-end of all the elements of the installation including:
- Feeders: larger size wire used to connect main power
- Circuits: smaller wire connecting individual devices to power sources
- Low voltage: connecting fire alarm, signal, datacom, sound and security
Each of these components varies by color and number of conductors for each of your runs.
Coordination means building out a schedule to ensure that material is available, cuts are coordinated, and material is quickly delivered to the site in an easy-to-install manner to keep your project moving.
Proper planning of where all the components are going to be installed and building a blueprint based upon the construction schedule allows the contractor to have items ready when they need them. Advance planning sometimes feels idealistic when factored with all the other elements of getting a project going, but the process can pay incredible dividends when the product is available when needed and installation flows seamlessly.
Conversation is constant communication regarding anticipated requirements, actual component footages attained by true tapes, total material tracking, and actual delivery status.
Change is the only thing that seems to remain constant in construction. Making sure that any changes are communicated in a proactive, positive manner will help facilitate a successful project. The transition from the coordination to fulfillment is most successful when communication is proactive to anticipate upcoming deliveries and requirements.
Completion is the execution of the plans with fulfillment at the project site.
Delivery of the products you need, at the time you need to install them, in a manner that makes it easy to get to the point of installation and be installed, is the completion of the wire and cable cycle. Having the right equipment to unload and transport it to the area can be easily attained if the conversation in the step above occurs.
Success in wire and cable management simply falls to the 5 C’s.