Recognizing the crucial role that fabrication plays within the construction industry, the United Association implemented our first fabrication agreement more than six decades ago. The fabrication sector serves all major industrial segments, from petro-chemical to refining to food processing to power plants, and has expanded over the decades to take a leading role in the construction, renovation and maintenance of facilities all across North America.
With the advent of innovations in technology such as CADD (computer-aided design and drafting) and BIM (building information modeling), fabrication and modularization play an ever-increasing role in these traditional sectors of our industry. In addition, BIM technologies have accelerated the use of pre-fabrication and modularization in the institutional and commercial arenas as well. This has led the United Association, our local unions and contractor partners to establish dedicated fabrication facilities to meet the demand for this work.
Today, the United Association has over 500 signatory contractors operating 550 fabrication facilities that supply piping spools, skids packages and modules for projects across North America and abroad. The revolution resulting from this growth led the UA and the PFI (Pipe Fabrication Institute) to establish a one of a kind fabricator apprenticeship program. The UA and PFI understood this work was more akin to the manufacturing sector than traditional construction, and that a new approach was needed to meet the demand for these uniquely skilled workers in the fabrication field. The training focuses on skills necessary to excel in a sophisticated shop environment with the goal of ensuring our contractors and their customers have better control of safety, quality, schedules, and budgets. The training concentrates on lean manufacturing processes, pipe layout and math, isometric and shop spool drawings, piping codes, PFI standards and equipment unique to the fab shop. Priority is placed on welding, using both traditional and state-of-the-art methods in processes such as flux-core, roto weld, tip-tig, orbital, and submerged arc, with an emphasis on ASME Section IX x-ray quality.
Government and private industry studies conclude that pre-fabrication and modularization will have one of the greatest impacts on the construction industry over the next 20 years. This is a major departure from the traditional construction model that many in the industry are accustomed to, and we are committed to embracing this change. To that end, we have dedicated substantial resources to ensure the UA and our contractors are the leaders in meeting the pre-fabrication and modularization needs in all sectors of our industry.