Multi-Trade Layout Shortens the Schedule, Improves Accuracy, and Saves Costs

When Jenco, an Arizona-based electrical contractor, was awarded a 300,000-square-foot space tourism manufacturing facility, Project Executive David Meacham knew the project presented an opportunity for automated, multi-trade layout to improve accuracy, communication, and efficiency–saving costs and shortening the project schedule.
Header image
Saved on a single project
Trades Printed at the same time
Weeks Ahead of Schedule

Jenco recommended using multi-trade layout with Dusty Robotics to national design-build general contractor Parkway Construction and Architecture. Parkway recognized the opportunity for increased efficiency and  jumped at the opportunity, requiring its use by all participating trade contractors, including mechanical, electrical, plumbing, sprinkler and millwork.

Collaboration Improves Project Outcomes

By completing all trades’ layout at the same time on the space tourism facility in Arizona, problems were identified and solved during preconstruction, allowing construction to progress smoothly. Meacham describes,

Doing just the electrical layout with Dusty is great, but not as effective as incorporating all trades. The real benefit of multi trade is in doing the walls. If you do traditional layout, framers will find a control point, which is something fixed, and they will work their way across the room. If there are any hiccups along the way, the framers won’t realize it until they complete the layout. If we just do electrical with Dusty, there could be unknown compounding effects for other trades.

Jenco led the coordination effort. “Coordinating with trades was like doing a normal BIM meeting for clash detection, but in a fraction of the time,” Meacham says.

For example, the crew discovered the building was six inches out of square when establishing control points for Dusty. With traditional layout, that problem would have been discovered during construction, requiring unexpected costs in labor and materials. With a coordinated multi-trade layout process, adjustments were made before construction began. 

Multi-trade layout also identified doors and windows that were incorrectly placed. Their placement was addressed in a coordination meeting, requiring no additional costs or rework and keeping the project on schedule. 

Traditionally, a project goes to layout and a problem is identified. Then, the contractor sends an RFI and waits for the architect to respond before making a decision based on the architect and/or owner's recommendations. Meacham said,

Next thing you know, we've lost a week, so now we've compounded problems and have compression and trade stacking. There are more people onsite than there should be and the schedule is tighter. Dusty Robotics eliminated all of that upfront. It shortened the duration of design flaws, accounted for them in real time and kept progress moving forward.

The trade contractors–which had never used Dusty before–were impressed by efficiencies gained by multi-trade layout as well. Meacham added, "the framers, for example, loved Dusty because they were able to do a lot more work in less time."

Better Use Labor Resources With Dusty

Multi-trade layout helps contractors like Jenco deal with the construction industry’s skilled trade worker shortage. “We live and die by labor hours and dollars. I can have brilliant people manage the robot and coordination for a shorter time, and then we can go right to install with lower-cost employees who are apprentices and still learning,” Meacham says. 

In order to cope with the skilled labor challenges that all trades face today, Jenco knows they need to use a solution like Dusty coupled with additional training and development in order to efficiently and accurately complete its layout. 

Meacham explains, “There are not as many highly skilled tradespeople in the industry anymore. We cannot hand a journeyman a set of plans and say ‘Go lay it out.’ There are more productive ways we could be utilizing that Journeyman's skills. In the traditional ways of doing layout, we also have to contend with human error. Dusty helps eliminate that and makes our workforce is more productive in the construction phases, instead of wasting time in the menial phase of layout.”

Using Dusty, workers can begin construction as soon as they’re on-site, simply following the printed layout. Meacham added,

If a job traditionally needed 10 people, but Dusty allows us to do the same job with fewer employees, we can send those employees to other jobsites. We can reallocate labor resources in ways we could not before, allowing us to take on more work.

Invest in Dusty to Save Money

Budgeting for Dusty is a no-brainer for Jenco thanks to the efficiencies gained by using multi-trade automated layout. 

“On the facility, we estimated it would have cost $180,000 to do the layout traditionally–and that's just making lines on the ground and shooting lasers in the sky. We spent $100,000 to do layout with Dusty, so we saw $80,000 in direct savings.”

Those numbers don’t take into account the lack of rework that occurred on the project by identifying errors–like the building shell being six inches out of square–before construction began. 

Layout on the first phase of the massive warehouse project was completed in 6.5 days, helping the contractor wrap up the project ahead of schedule. Comparatively, layout using traditional methods would have taken several weeks, with each trade coming onsite to complete their part sequentially. Meacham said,

With multi-trade layout, you don't have rework on framing or other building components. We were six weeks ahead of schedule from layout so we were completing early for turnover.

Dusty Becomes a Competitive Advantage

Those layout efficiencies have paid off for Jenco. When bidding jobs, the electrical contractor looks for projects led by general contractors like Parkway that recognize the value of Dusty to improve accuracy, save costs and streamline construction. Bringing multi-trade, automated layout to the table helps Jenco win more work. Meacham said,

If it’s between me and a competitor and I can shave six weeks off the schedule using Dusty, it’s money in their pocket. If there’s an early completion incentive, for example, I can save a general contractor $10,000. Once that happens, a relationship is established and it’s easier to transact with them in the future. They are more likely to choose Jenco compared to other subcontractors.

After viewing an advertisement for Dusty Robotics, Meacham was hooked immediately and knew automated, multi-trade layout presented an invaluable tool for future projects. “We used Total Station for many years on all ground-up jobs and tenant improvements, but I knew there had to be a better solution–something that’s more than just points on the ground,” Meacham says. “That same day, I saw a video for Dusty and my initial reaction was: Why are we not using this?” 

It wasn’t long before a customer success manager with Dusty Robotics was on the jobsite training Jenco VDC professionals. Now, Dusty is a part of Jenco’s normal workflow. It has led automated layout on nine projects, with ten additional projects in the pipeline.

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Jenco is a locally owned and operated commercial electrical contractor consisting of three companies: Jen Electric, Jen Service and Control Engineering. Over the past 32 years, Jenco has been developing our practices and people to produce satisfaction for all of our customers. It prides itself in staying true to its business mission on a daily basis. This enables Jenco to continue to learn and develop as individuals and as a company, but most importantly it allows the Jenco team to provide the best possible experience for all our customers.

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