Benefits of Prefabrication

Fast, efficient project delivery is the ultimate goal for everyone involved in a construction project. Prefabrication, where certain building system components are assembled offsite and then transported to the construction jobsite, is an option for many projects that can save time and money.

  1. More room on the jobsite. When bulky systems are prefabricated in a shop setting and not shipped to the site until it’s time to install them, there isn’t a need for extensive laydown/staging space. This is particularly helpful on congested, urban sites or remodeling projects in occupied spaces.
  2. Lower material cost. Contractors that prefabricate often purchase common materials (like pipe and ductwork) and supplies (such as hardware) in bulk for a discount from suppliers.
  3. Higher quality. Since prefabricated construction occurs in a controlled environment and follows specific standards, the components are built to a uniform quality.
  4. Improved Safety. Prefabrication eliminates the variables of an active jobsite that can affect safety. Factors like noise, temperature and ergonomics are easily controlled in a shop setting.
  5. Less time and money overall. When contractors use prefabrication on a project, they are better able to control the planning, scheduling and craftsmanship of their building systems. This translates to a job that is completed on time and under budget!

Which Project Delivery Method is Right for Your Project?

Each construction project is different, and the project delivery system should be tailored to the individual requirements of that unique project. Selection of a delivery method is typically based upon how your organization operates, internal resources available and their level of expertise or knowledge, funding requirements, and overall schedule for delivery. The chart below shows the organization of each delivery system, plus benefits and challenges. Click on the chart to enlarge it.

Industry Progress: The “I” in BIM

By Kevin Kendellen, Construction Technology Manager

Since the early days of implementing Building Information Modeling (BIM) on construction projects, the focus has nearly always been on the visual aspect.  Phrases like “a picture is worth a thousand words” were constantly used to sell the concept of 3D models being used as a tool during the construction process.  While there definitely is proof in that idea, and the communication aspect is one of the biggest benefits of the model development process, the AEC industry is now finally making significant progress on the most important part of the BIM acronym:  The “I” for Information.

Building models themselves are just graphic representations of data.  So, while the industry has been focused on the “pretty pictures” that are so accessible with BIM, this data sat behind the scenes due to it either being accessible to just a few team members, our inability to make sense of what could be exported to Microsoft Excel, or just not having the time to dig into it all due to project demands.  That data is now front and center and the AEC industry is knee deep into learning how to digest this hidden gold mine of information to build projects better and cut back on waste.  This evolution is being fast-tracked through a swell of software hitting the market that is focused on leveraging that data through the lifecycle of the building, affecting not only design and construction, but providing opportunities to change how buildings are managed by facility personnel.

So how do we get there?  We, as an industry, need to look at the flow of information and what shifts in a project’s timeline are now obtainable because of it.  The data that is contained in the models will be even more relied upon due to it being a single source of information being used across multiple software applications and how fast and easy it is for project teams to access that information.  This shift in data usage will continue to change how project teams interact and make decisions.  As the industry shifts to this mentality, there will be new challenges at each phase of a project.

The word “collaboration” is constantly thrown around but rarely is a project team able to capitalize on those initial thoughts or ideas on how to better use each player’s time wisely and teams retreat to the corners of their old ways as soon as a new idea falters.  Data will be the driver for crossing “collaboration” over from a buzz word to a standard practice.  Projects will look to utilize an unbroken chain of information, we’ll be looking at ways to eliminate “hand-offs” and further advance the usage of manufacturing processes such as standardization and modularization to delivery better projects in a shorter duration.

Planning for a Safe Jobsite

By Jim Janquart

Safety Service Plans help keep everyone safe on our jobsites. We review the upcoming 6-week schedule for each job with the jobsite Supervisors, Project Managers and Executives to determine high risk activities and what needs to be done keep our employees and jobsites safe. Once these items are identified, planning takes place to make sure safety is integrated into our work.

Here is a list of high risk work activities (HRWA):

  • Excavation
  • Steel Erection
  • Concrete Work and vehicles/equipment used
  • Cranes
  • Caissons
  • Roofing
  • Scaffolding
  • Building Surveys to determine lead, asbestos, mold exposures
  • Working around occupied areas and pedestrians
  • Demolition
  • Pre-cast concrete panels and decking
  • Hot work
  • Working around MRI
  • Pile driving and shoring
  • Helicopter picks
  • Receiving areas
  • Confined space
  • Silica

These items are reviewed during jobsite inspections, pre-install meetings and at various other times throughout the project.  The purpose is to determine safety concerns and OSHA requirements far enough in advance to pre-plan activities to ensure we have the right equipment, personnel and other items on the jobsite when these activities take place, so work is done safely and efficiently.

Award Winning Construction

We’re happy to announce that the Racine Unified Three School Project that Riley completed in 2016 has won two prestigious awards!

  • 2017 AGC (Association of General Contractors) BUILD Wisconsin Award
  • Nationally recognized 2017 CMAA Project Achievement Award

The annual AGC BUILD Wisconsin awards celebrate the pride and craftsmanship of AGC members’ building projects.

CMAA’s Project Achievement Awards program highlights the best of the best– projects that serve as an example to the industry and are true pinnacles of excellence and innovation achieved.

5 Reasons Why Construction Needs Lean

By Brian Lightner, Lean & Quality Control Manager

For decades, the term “Lean” was applied strictly to manufacturing processes. In recent years, however, the construction industry has begun to adapt Lean principles for their own purposes. This is a positive step forward for an industry that has historically shown flat productivity improvements. How does integrating Lean improve the construction process? Here are five convincing reasons.

  1. Lean Forces Us to Examine Processes. Most construction firms maintain historical data to estimate the time and resources needed to perform certain processes. But how often do we challenge that data? Lean methodology requires us to examine every step in a process, question its value and make improvements as needed. Following where both data and observation take you – instead of using generalized assumptions based on questionable data or no data at all – is essential to collecting measurements that lead to improvements.
  2. Lean Reduces Waste. When we find and eliminate the non-value-added steps in a process, the result is a drastic reduction in waste. This includes physical waste (excess materials, unnecessary tools, etc.); time spent on nonvaluable or redundant tasks, or waiting for others; and the accompanying financial impact of that wasted labor and material.
  3. Lean Establishes Standards. Taiichi Ohno, the driving force behind the Lean manufacturing phenomenon, once said, “Without standards, there can be no improvement.” When adopting Lean principles, construction firms establish baseline productivity standards based on realistic, value-focused processes – and measure future processes against those standards.
  4. Lean Addresses Labor Shortages. Lean construction methods improve and maintain productivity without necessarily adding labor resources. With the ongoing challenge to find skilled labor, this is a welcome bonus!
  5. Lean Improves Scheduling. Glenn Ballard, founder of the Lean Construction Institute, observed that most schedules are just “forecasts,” which typically have two features: they are inaccurate, and that inaccuracy increases the further out you try to forecast. Lean facilitates the transition from ‘scheduling’ or ‘forecasting’ to ‘planning’ – the purposeful act of making work ready. Emphasis is on developing a detailed understanding of project requirements, which increases a plan’s reliability; equal emphasis is on improving the reliability of the commitments required for successful delivery.  Lean fosters a collaborative atmosphere where responsibility is distributed to a team, which is much more effective than requiring one project manager to develop and maintain a single, often overgeneralized schedule and bear the burden of understanding by themselves.

The Safety Numbers Are In

Riley Construction’s safety numbers are better than ever!

The NCCI (National Council on Compensation Insurance) has revised our EMRs* for the past 3 years.

2017: 0.54 (from 0.55)
2016: 0.51 (from 0.52)
2015: 0.60 (from 0.61)

An EMR of 1.0 is considered the industry average, which means Riley’s safety rating is currently 46% better than average!


*Experience Modification Rate (EMR) is a number used by insurance companies to gauge both past cost of injuries and future chances of risk. The lower the EMR, the better the safety record. These new numbers may seem like small changes, but in reality, it’s very hard to move even slightly when EMRs are already so low.

The R.E.A.L School’s New Location Opens!

The remodel is complete on The R.E.A.L. School’s new location in Sturtevant! It officially opened its doors on Wednesday at 10116 Stellar Ave. The R.E.A.L. School houses students in grades 6-12. The new location allows the school to grow, gives students opportunities to prepare for college and/or careers and get real world experiences. They will also get the opportunity to work closely with Gateway Technical College’s nearby SC Johnson iMET Center.

Our Milwaukee Team Has Moved to a New, Larger Location!

To better serve our customers, we’ve moved our Milwaukee area office to an expanded location in Waukesha. Conveniently located off I-94, the new office provides nearly 40% more space than our previous location, to accommodate growth in the Milwaukee market.

“This move is in direct response to customer demand,” said Ben Kossow, Vice President of Operations. “Since 2011 alone, we’ve experienced a 400% increase in volume in the Milwaukee region. This new facility will enable us to add the staff and resources we need to continue delivering the high level of service our customers have come to expect.”

The move is complete and Riley is ready to serve customers from the new location! Click here for the new address. All phone numbers and extensions remain the same.