A New Look at Designing Electrical Construction Processes A Case Study of Cable Pulling and Termination Process on Data Center Construction Sites
At least 30 datacenters either broke ground or hit the planning stages around the United States over the past two years. On such technically complex projects, Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) systems make up a huge portion of the construction work which makes data center market very promising for MEP subcontractors in the next years. However, specialized subcontractors such as electrical subcontractors are struggling to keep crews motivated. Due to the hard work involved in the construction industry, it is not appealing for young workers. According to The Center for Construction Research and Training, the percentages of workers aged between 16 to 19 years decreased by 67%, 20 to 24 years decreased by 49% and 25 to 34 age decreased by 32% from 1985 to 2015. Furthermore, the construction industry has been lagging other industries in combatting its decline in productivity. Electrical activities, especially cable pulling, are some of the most physically unsafe, tedious, and labor-intensive electrical process on data center projects. The motivation of this research is the need to take a closer look at how this process is being done and find improvement opportunities. This thesis focuses on one potential restructuring of the cable pulling and termination process; the goal of this restructuring is optimization for automation. Through process mapping, this thesis presents a proposed cable pulling and termination process that utilizes automation to make use of the best abilities of human and robots/machines. It will also provide a methodology for process improvement that is applicable to the electrical scope of work as well as that of other construction trades.