Stories

Prefab+VDC=Savings

This article is included in the Great Things: Issue 1 edition of the DPR Newsletter.

Nestled at the edge of North Carolina’s Research Triangle, an area famed for innovation, the growing community of Cary ranks among the nation’s most desirable places for active families. It is here that the UNC Healthcare Panther Creek project team is embracing prefabrication to bring its new ambulatory surgery center online more quickly. By using a robust virtual design and construction (VDC) program along with prefabricated plumbing, electrical and conduit materials and tilt-up walls, DPR Construction is slated to deliver the project one to two months quicker than with traditional methods.

A robust virtual design and construction program coupled with prefabricated materials helps deliver UNC Healthcare’s new ambulatory surgery center more quickly than traditional methods. Courtesy of Mindy Hetman

“The real story here goes deeper than the prefabrication itself. It was really about the modeling and coordination efforts done before we even stepped foot on-site,” said Daniel Wrenn, superintendent for the project. “All penetrations, all hangers and embeds were already in place before we poured any slabs or decks. The day after we poured a deck, we were able to start the rough-in. Normally, you’ve got weeks of layout and putting up your hangers before you can put the first piece of material up. Our approach saved a lot of time.”

Modeling was instrumental in streamlining production of prefabricated materials off-site, so when it came time to put the materials in place there was no question of placement or tie-ins.

DPR crews were able to virtually tilt in the wall panels ahead of time, before fabrication, to identify any potential misalignments in the embeds. Additionally, laser scanning allowed for verification of embed placement on site. If embeds were even a couple of inches off, the information could be relayed to the project team and the trade partner for quick adjustment. This created significant time and money savings versus dealing with errors later.

Modeling was instrumental in streamlining production of prefabricated materials off site so that when it came time to put the materials in place there was no question of placement or tie-ins. Courtesy of Mindy Hetman

Modeling was also used to map out plumbing, electrical and conduit locations before these materials were fabricated. Hard pipe is typically stick built in the field, with electricians bending pipe on site after boxes are roughed in. At Panther Creek, hard pipe was built off-site according to the model.

Fabrication work being done in the shop rather than on site cut down significantly on labor, accelerated the schedule, and reduced exposure to safety risks. Courtesy of Mindy Hetman

Electricians also traditionally install one stick of conduit at a time, but the modeling, coordination, and prefab efforts in this project allowed racks of 12 conduits to be installed at once. Fabrication work being done in the shop rather than on-site cut down significantly on labor, accelerated the schedule, and reduced exposure to safety risks.

“Prefab has been around for years,” said DPR’s Cameron Martin. “But these are new methods of employing it.”

Working under a tight schedule, DPR leveraged its relationships with important trade partners, such as plumbing contractor Environmental Air Systems and electrical contractor Cooper Electric. The team brought their expertise in VDC and BIM coordination to the table to help deliver a quality facility with cost efficiency and improved safety ever at the fore. The 96,700-sq.-ft. tilt-up medical office building, which includes a new ambulatory surgery center, imaging suites, pharmacy and multiple medical clinics, is scheduled to open in the spring of 2020.