How Contractors Can Utilize Digital Solutions to Stay Safe and Efficient in 2023
By Guillaume Le Gouic, Contributor
Following the passing of The Inflation Reduction Act, the construction industry is preparing to ramp up project deployment to improve the nation’s aging infrastructure. As the industry sees a surge in new construction projects, electrical contractor safety must be one of the highest priorities in 2023. When electricians provide services, inherent dangers exist, such as the possibility of a temporary voltage spike. How can digital technology solutions keep contractors safe, increase project efficiency, and save time and costs?
Prioritize safety and efficiency during the planning process
The pressure to deliver projects on time and within budget, manage risk, and avoid costly errors is high. When making choices in the initial electrical distribution system design and selection, contractors should minimize cost and risk by providing people safety and asset protection designed into electrical distribution solutions from the start.
Before breaking ground on construction, consider using design software that focuses on building information modeling (BIM) and electrical design so that safety can be easily baked into construction plans from the beginning. The pre-construction phase is the time to use accurate modeling technology to simulate real-world conditions in order to avoid and minimize risks. For example, planning to install simple digital modules can reduce the potential for exposure and enable metered electrical distribution. Modules that include “touch safe” barriers can do the crucial work of preventing accidental contact.
Mitigate safety risks like surges and arc flashes
The right technology can help mitigate safety risks and unlock new operational efficiencies. Electrical distribution solutions designed with safety provide optimal protection against hazards during installation and maintenance. Surge suppressors block the shock caused by surges at the load center, resulting in increased peace of mind due to the significant reduction in risk to a building’s expensive appliances.
Another such hazard that should be considered is arc flashes. According to OSHA, an arc flash is “a phenomenon where a flashover of electric current leaves its intended path and travels through the air from one conductor to another, or to ground. The results are often violent, and when a human is in close proximity to the arc flash, serious injury and even death can occur.”
An arc flash can be caused by anything from dust to accidental touching to corrosion. Game-changing technology for arc flash protection can passively reduce the level of incident energy. When it’s impossible to reduce incident energy, it can provide active safety precautions such as remote operation or ERMS to lower the risk to maintenance staff during operations. Preventing, isolating, and mitigating arc events is crucial for safety, as well as decreasing the amount of time needed for repairs.
Consider value-added services
Consider the case of Mashell Carissimi, founder of JMC Electrical Contractor LLC, which offers high-quality electrical services to southeast Michigan customers. Their focus on quality and service throughout the design and installation process has landed them 300+ projects since 2010. Mashell’s top advice is to “treat every project as a very personal, value-add level that is based on customers’ needs.”
Many contractors overlook that value-add level at the end of their projects. After-installation services, such as UPS monitoring and maintenance services, allow electrical contractors to provide early detection of anomalies and failures. This helps keep the customer safe while also providing an additional revenue stream for the contractor. Providing insights on real-time energy usage is another way to add value to customers so that inefficiencies and energy waste can be easily spotted and corrected.
According to research by the McKinsey Global Institute, the construction industry is among the least digitized. Contractors who embrace smart digital solutions will be the ones ready for success in today’s increasingly digital world. Digital adoption helps contractors overcome everyday construction industry hurdles without compromising safety. Ultimately, embracing emerging digital trends benefits customers and leads to increased market competitiveness and revenue. ESW
Guillaume Le Gouic is Senior Vice President for Schneider Electric’s Power Systems Business in the United States. He and his leadership team deliver best in class equipment and solutions for theirpartners and customers. Schneider Electric is leading the Digital Transformation of Energy Management and Automation in Homes, Buildings, Data Centers, Infrastructure, and Industries. With global presence in over 100 countries, Schneider is the undisputable leader in Power Management – Medium Voltage, Low Voltage and Secure Power, and in Automation Systems (www.schneider-electric.us).
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