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Interview: Multi-Trade Assemblies at U.S. Engineering’s Manufacturing Facility in Lawrence, Kansas

Jan 04, 2023

U.S. Engineering

In the summer of 2022, U.S. Engineering worked with trade partners on assemblies for HCA’s Overland Park Regional Medical Center. We and our partners crafted the product offsite at our Lawrence, Kansas, manufacturing facility. U.S. Engineering teams produced the main structure and attached the piping, plumbing and ductwork. Our partnering electricians, insulators, and carpenters then installed their portion of the work onsite in our manufacturing facility.

Watch this video of the process, and below the video, read an interview with some of our team members who were involved.

In this interview, Aaron Cox, Director of Manufacturing; David Golden, Plumbing Production Manager; and Kyle Alsop, Project Manager, all team members at U.S. Engineering Metalworks, talk about the multi-trade process and how it benefits our customers and peers.

How did our trade partners respond when we invited them into our facility to complete their portion of the work?

Aaron: I think in the beginning they were unsure about how it would work. But by the end of the process, they understood the value of working together in our facility. They were able to experience tangible benefits from executing work this way. This partnership can make them more competitive and more efficient.

How did having our own manufacturing facility impact the project?

Kyle: Utilizing our own facility to locally produce the components allowed us to incorporate a few on-the-fly adjustments to the design during the manufacturing process that would not be possible with outside partners. A key success was being able to build a mock-up early on and collaborate as a team to refine our design.

From a plumbing perspective, how does having our own manufacturing facilities impact our work?

David: Most plumbing systems are installed behind walls, except for the fixtures themselves. The manufacturing facility lets us build an assembly and have it ready to go before the walls  go up, making the installation on site much quicker. The assembly can be rolled into place, dropped to the floor and hooked up in a matter of minutes rather than days.

What about this multi-trade prefabrication process was new or different?

Aaron: The biggest difference in this process compared to current multi-trade prefabrication is the collaboration and combined efforts of different trades from different companies. The prefab products you can purchase today come from one vendor. Our process brought different companies together with different scopes and combined our traditional on-site work with a coordinated, premanufactured product built completely offsite. U.S. Engineering is not going after the electrical scope of a project. We are not going after the framing and drywall. We know what our expertise is. We use that expertise and our great relationships with our partners and subs to create a fully integrated premanufactured product that doesn’t sacrifice quality or value.

What benefits does this multi-trade manufacturing process provide to our customers?

Kyle: First, it’s a safer working environment. Working in a controlled environment tailored to our crafts takes us one step closer to our goal of ensuring that all our team members make it home safely each day.

Second, we have seen firsthand how utilizing this approach can accelerate a project timeline. While it does take more up-front planning and coordination, the downstream effects are undeniable when it comes to the installation. We are reducing the risk of running into schedule-driven inefficiencies in the field, such as trade stacking and out-of-sequence work, which can cause strain on a project’s schedule and the relationships between trade partners.

Third, the ease of installation and how it contributes to consistent quality of work nationwide for clients like HCA. By standardizing a modular concept and manufacturing it at large scale, you remove a lot of the deviations in productivity and quality from area to area. Projects like OPRMC help position U.S. Engineering as leaders in this innovative approach, and I believe we’re setting ourselves up for success in the future.

Aaron Cox joined U.S. Engineering in 2005 as an apprentice. He has helped in many different roles during his time with U.S. Engineering, including time spent in both the shops and the field, virtual construction detailer and detailing lead, and currently as Director of Manufacturing for the Midwest Metalworks team. Aaron has 4 sons and loves spending his free time with his family, usually at a sporting event for one of his boys.

David Golden joined U.S. Engineering in 2008 as a 3rd-year apprentice for Plumbers and Gasfitters Local Union #8.  He spent 6 years working in the fab shop as well as jobs in the field that include the Kauffman Performing Arts Center, Liberty Hospital Mechanical and Surgical Upgrades, UMKC Student Union Building, and St. Luke’s North ED Remodel. David joined the Metalworks team in April of 2019 and has assisted with the manufacturing of the Johnson County Courthouse, KCI Airport, HCA Menorah Hospital, HCA Overland Park Regional Medical Center, and now the Walton Family Whole Health & Fitness. 

Kyle Alsop joined U.S. Engineering in January of 2015 as an intern and worked on projects in Manhattan while he finished his Mechanical Engineering Degree from KSU. After graduation, he was hired full time in Kansas City as a Project Engineer and worked on a variety of large construction projects, which led to his development into a project management role. Recently, Kyle has worked with his team to refine and implement new approaches with modular fabrication to provide customers with added value. 

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