We recently interviewed Starr Electric field superintendent Kevin Berkebile about Starr’s experience with the new Southwire SIMpull barrels. Kevin is heading up a large project and gave us some great feedback about this revolutionary way to pull wire. Thanks to Kevin and Starr for this valuable information.
1. Can you give us a brief scope of what this project entailed?
This particular project called for the use of #12 and #10 wire – 4 wire and 7 wire set ups. We used the Southwire SIMpull barrels for all branch circuit wire, lighting, and all of our motor loads. There were 19 barrels just for the motor load (125,000 linear feet – 500,000 feet of #12 barrel wire). We were fortunate to have the barrels. It really was a time saver. If you go back to your traditional methods of pulling the wire, you would have all the time to handle those reels and set it up – there’s no way you could even put a number on the labor savings involved in using the barrels.
2. Did you use the dolly or the tripods on this project?
We used one dolly and three tripods. The tripods come in handy for your higher overhead pulls. When you are moving from room to room there’s just no better way than to take the one dolly, set up at a panel and start pulling. Two men can easily move the barrel on the dolly. Traditionally, with the amount of wire that we were pulling you would have 3 or 4 guys on that set up. Using this method we only needed two men. You are saving at least 30-40% labor by using this product (no set up, no lube, no re-coiling, only 2 guys vs. 3 or 4).
3. Could your workers tell that it was easier pulling with the SIMpull jacket on the wire?
Oh, yes. You just have to look at the product as a whole. Being able to get basically all of your wire now with the SIMpull jacket eliminates the need for lube and lube clean up time on the long runs. All of that translates into a huge labor savings.
4. Did you ever have any issues with it being tangled at all?
5. Why did you decide to use the Southwire SIMpull barrels on this project?
We went with the barrels for the labor savings and the ability to easily maneuver the wire through the jobsite. The overall footprint of the product is a lot smaller in comparison to using wire carts. If I’m pulling a 7 wire set up, that’s going to require me to use one REALLY big wire cart which eats up 3 times the footprint or use two smaller wire carts which would still eat up twice the footprint. We don’t have that option in a lot of these areas that we’re working in. It’s just a no-brainer. If you’re looking at 5,000 foot per color, that is two normal 2,500 foot reels that I would have to have someone get out from the trailer, get it into the building, get it loaded on the wire cart (which is cumbersome to get the reels onto) and stack them. So we looked at the labor savings of not having to handle as much wire. You handle this barrel only one time. There is no lost production.
6. Were you hesitant about using a new process like the SIMpull barrels?
You don’t know about the barrel wire until you pull it. We went into it blind. We looked at the sample and I said “We’re not going to order just a little bit, we’re going to order it all. We’re either going to love it or we’re going to hate it, but we’re going to live through it.” We made a decision and went with it. We still have to pull traditional here, for your one wire, two wire set ups. But if you put that barrel next to the tree stands that we are using, there is no comparison.
7. Does using the barrels help to eliminate theft on the job?
The weight of the barrel (max weight 658 lbs.), even at 180 or 200 lbs. is too much for two men to deadlift off of the ground into the back of a truck – there’s no way. They can easily pick up a 60 lb. reel and throw it in the trunk of a car concealed and no one would ever notice. You’ll notice those barrels going down the road! Normally, we would have a lot of #10 and #12 scrap on a job which consumes a lot of space. With pulling the barrel wire, we’ve had very little #10 and # 12 scrap. You don’t have partial reels of wire sitting in the trailer taking up space – there’s a cost for that for storage and handling. Everything has a price tag on it.
8. Did using the barrels help prevent injuries on the job?
You’re limiting the potential for injuries that can occur every time someone has to bend over and pick up a reel – they don’t lift with their knees or lift correctly. Every time they bend and pick up that 2500 ft. reel of wire, hold it and load it, there’s a chance of injury. The barrel wire is a two man operation. You put the dolly up underneath it and go. Your exposure to injury is cut 90%. Even with the additional cost of the barrels, all it takes is one prevented back injury or one pinched finger to make up for it.
9. Did you run in to any issues using the barrels? Is there anything you would change about them?
We had no issues with the barrels – no issues at all. The first time you use a product you anticipate problems or a learning curve. You expect issues with any product – it doesn’t matter whether you buy a coffee maker or a lawn mower. You always expect a little hiccup. We had no hiccups with this product at all. The only thing that I would change is the addition of some sort of viewing window or marking. Some way of knowing where the wire level is in the barrel. (Southwire is currently working on the release of a plastic barrel with an addition of possibly three viewing windows. They are also hoping to put sequential foot markings on one of the conductors in the barrel that would be barrel specific.) Southwire will also do barrel pickups on any of the barrels.
10. Do you plan on using the SIMPull Barrels on future projects?
There’s a breaking point where it’s not cost effective so you have to be aware of that. But any project of any kind of larger size, you do pull a lot of wire. At the Ardrey Kell High School project a few years back, the amount of branch circuit wire we pulled was insane. If we had a product like the barrels back then, the savings would have been huge. This is an easy product to add on the job that contributes greatly to the labor savings.
Tags:Barrels, EDI, Shealy, SIMpull, Southwire, Starr, Starr Electric, wire, Wire pull, WireBarrel