White Paper: The Impact of Prefabrication on Productivity

Mark O. Federle, Ph.D., P.E., CPC, F.ASCE
McShane Chair in Construction Engineering and Management
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
College of Engineering
Marquette University
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881
Tel: (414) 288-4531
Fax: (414) 288-7521


This report finds the answer to, and objectively characterizes, the relationship between productivity and prefabrication. It offers a set of best practices enabling HVAC and sheet metal contractors to optimize the use of prefabrication to obtain peak productivity. Based on an industry survey, reliance on a series of case studies, and the completion of both detailed productivity and prefabrication analyses, a number of best practices are presented as tactics that other sheet metal contractors might use.

The report adds to the understanding of how productivity of field and office personnel is measured and identifies the impact of prefabrication on both field and office operations for HVAC and sheet metal contractors. The impact and use of prefabrication within Lean Construction, BIM and VDC is also explored.

This final report includes three different types of suggested tactics; one for the contractor who is new to prefabrication in the sheet metal shop; one for those seeking to dramatically increase prefabrication efforts; and a few tactics for the advanced prefabricator.​