Interstates’ recent work on a new cage-free egg-laying facility in the Midwest, included building and installing modular solutions called e-houses. Using e-houses instead of traditional electric rooms has myriad benefits, including cost savings, faster build cycles, and increased efficiency on subsequent projects. Utilizing pre-engineered e-houses at this facility demonstrated how utilizing a repeatable, high-quality product can save time and money.
Why E-Houses Are a Smart Solution
The client had not originally planned on using e-houses at this facility. With existing customer contracts that had to be met, hitting the project schedule was paramount. “On previous projects with this client, we had between 12-14 weeks between barn construction and bird population, but this project was majorly accelerated,” says Nate Van Kley, Project Manager at Interstates. “We had to think outside the box and consider what we could do ahead of time to relieve stress on the people in the field and get ahead of the electric room work and wiring, which is fairly involved,” he says.
At their previous facilities, the client had been “stick building” the electric rooms, but Interstates had a solution that would solve schedule problems while improving the layout and traffic flow: prefabricated e-houses. “With such a tight schedule, we utilized prefab everywhere we could,” says Naboth Netten, VDC Team Leader at Interstates, adding, “Performing this work off-site and well in advance allowed us to meet the project schedule.”
While e-houses aren’t always the solution, they are a good starting point for adding modular elements to a project. Interstates’ e-houses can be designed to fit the client’s specifications, adding an element of valuable predictability to project planning and execution. Jesse Richardson, Manufacturing and Quality Engineer at Interstates, says, “All the upfront planning also ties into cost savings. Our process starts with a design concept, then material selection and procurement. While equipment staging is being planned and timed out, production is finishing on the shop floor.” Building the e-houses while other work is ongoing means the whole project is completed more quickly, which helps with the budget as well as the schedule.
What Are the Benefits?
The specific benefits of using e-houses will vary depending on the project, but here are a few of the primary sources of value:
Repeatability and Consistency – When an e-house design is perfected for a client, the modular solution will be the same high-quality product every time it’s built, eliminating inconsistencies and making operation and maintenance easier.
Increased Safety – Shifting man hours from the site to the shop reduces risk and ensures the work is done in a safe, controlled environment. Installation on-site is faster and easier, too, decreasing the chance of someone getting hurt. Avoiding trade stacking by moving work off-site also boosts safety.
Rapid Deployment – With thorough planning and material ordering completed well in advance, using e-houses accelerates the entire build cycle. Installation is fast and avoids hours of terminating wires in the field.
Cost Savings – Ordering materials in advance, cutting on-site man hours, and getting the project done faster all work toward saving money for the client.
Improving As We Go
The more e-houses Interstates builds, the easier it is to streamline the process and increase efficiency. Understanding the client’s current and long-term goals is the crucial first step in designing e-houses that meet their needs. There were lessons learned every step of the way. Says Netten, “We asked the right questions to get the information we needed to plan ahead successfully. Because this was our third site for the client, we understood the work well and were able to capitalize on using prefab.”
This blog was originally published in the Current Connections Spring 2023 issue.