In recent years, natural gas has become the backbone for fossil generation in the U.S., and will play a significant role in providing reliable power as energy projects transition to utilizing more renewable sources like solar and wind. With this shift, the pressure is on to construct additional gas turbines within the shortest timeline possible — without diminishing project quality, efficiency and safety.

In addition to applying an integrated engineer-procure-construct (EPC) project delivery method, utilizing in-house prefabrication services for resources like piping and steel can help maintain safety, efficiency and quality — among other project priorities — while also expediting the timeline:

  1. Safety: On-site labor is significantly reduced by shifting the work from the job site to the prefabrication shop. As opposed to workers performing tasks on scaffolding or other raised areas, building the pipe and steel elements in a fabrication shop allows the work to be completed more safely on the ground. This reduces space required on the job site for equipment and machinery, which can help expedite project schedules in addition to reducing costs and safety incidents.

  2. Efficiency: The prefabrication process is built to create the most efficiency possible. From premeasuring and cutting material ahead of time to utilizing integrated design software and meticulous automation, the average processing time is greatly reduced.

    With design, scheduling, material control and document control all integrated under one roof, critical data is easily accessible. This results in a more streamlined process that can help expedite a project by eliminating unnecessary duplication of efforts.

  3. Quality: In the controlled environment of a fabrication shop, employees are specialized in performing their job functions, which creates a better final product for the client with higher-quality work. With the modularization process that’s in place, the learning curve is shortened. There is less likelihood of new workers performing a task on the job site for the first time.

    Additionally, contrary to an outdoor job site that is subject to the elements and unpredictable weather conditions, the fabrication shop creates a climate-controlled space with stable conditions for pipe and steel production. Not only does this help eliminate delays in schedule, but it also protects project components from environmental impacts.

Many projects face schedule delays or impacts as a result of having to navigate steps and reviews with lots of various parties involved, including an outside fabrication company. With an integrated EPC team and fabrication shop, everything is in-house, preapproved and streamlined from project planning all the way through completion.


Timely delivery of custom-fabricated pipe and steel is critical to the success of large construction projects. An integrated data platform improves transparency and operational efficiency.

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Kevin Koch is a senior mechanical designer and manager of mechanical and piping design for the Energy Group at Burns & McDonnell. With more than 17 years of experience with the company, he has worked as a lead designer on a number of large gas turbine combined cycle projects.