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How to Keep a Lean Staging Area with Wheeled Carts

Dec 20, 2023Dec 20, 2023

WHEELED CARTS: To ease their reliance on forklifts, B&I affixes wheels to their loads in their staging area. STAFF PHOTO

The SNIPS NEWS 2022 contractor of the year, B&I Contractors, has an innovative solution for shipping a high volume of prefabricated duct out a sheet metal shop in Fort Myers, Florida, that they’re in the process of outgrowing.

As they wait to break ground on expanded facilities – while also shipping out more duct than ever before – having a lean staging area is doubly important.

The full mechanical, electrical and plumbing contractor compiles shipments for the field onto wheeled carts in a large staging area, with ductwork wrapped in blue plastic making up the bulk of their shipments. The duct has large, easily viewed custom labels for field workers to receive the ductwork and install it while handling the material as minimally as possible. The larger labels were a response to a Lean Improvement survey sent to all field employees. The lean improvement was suggested on the survey and implemented immediately across all B&I projects.

Ranked among the top 20 sheet metal firms in the nation, B&I manufactures about 90% of what their service technicians and sheet metal workers install in the field, with the goal of producing and prefabricating as much in-house as is logistically possible.

"The more we can do in the shop environment, and the more often we can reduce field labor, the more we can grow without being constrained by the labor force shortage that we're all struggling with," said Chief Executive Officer Gary Griffin.

One way they do this is through Multi-Trade Rack Prefabrication (MTR).

These are custom assemblies in modular structural frames filled with standardized MEP components that can fit one after the other in the field. They consist of the rack structure, electrical components, ductwork, piping, plumbing, insulation and sometimes more.

When it comes to keeping these complex assemblies organized and ready to ship, B&I's yard subdivided into various wheeled cart sections is vital.

"It is part of our lean focus as a manufacturer," Sheet Metal Department Manager Jon Castro concluded. "All deliveries are coordinated for multiple trades via our online system with job batch numbers assigned to staging area numbers. Everything has a place, and everything is in its place. That helps our flow stay organized and on schedule because everyone's on the same page."

Austin Keating is the Special Section Editor of SNIPS NEWS at The ACHR News. Prior to joining BNP Media, he served as field editor for Prairie Farmer and media specialist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Email him at [email protected].