The Future of Construction – How Off-Site Fabrication and Modular Construction Techniques Offer Speed, Savings, and Safety.

Today I have a very exciting article to share with you.

The article comes from sourceable.net from a July 3 article written by David Chandler.  Mr. Chandler is a very outspoken and notable architect from Sydney Australia.  He is also a distinguished construction industry expert in modern methods of construction.

The article entitled, “How will Western Sydney Airport shape the construction industry’s legacy” discusses  the inefficiencies of traditional delivery methods in construction and calls out key areas necessary to implement a positive change.

I really enjoyed Mr. Chandler’s article.

Mr. Chandler takes a very strong position on how the construction of the Western Sydney Airport can be a catalyst for change in the construction industry.  Chandler recommends using offsite manufacturing methods to reduce cost, time, and enhance safety.  In conveying his thoughts, he uses the acronym OSM, but for me and many of my US colleagues we are more familiar with the term modular construction or prefabrication.

Modular construction is a not a new concept.  Builders have been using modular construction techniques and prefabrication for centuries.  The oldest known use of prefabrication is said to have been in 3800 BC where prefabricated timber sections were used in the construction of a roadway in England.

Today, the most common use of prefabrication is in prefabricated concrete and steel typically used for roadways and bridges.

Modular construction techniques are especially effective whenever you have repetitive sections.  Prefabrication of sections can be built off-sight and transported to the job site and simply installed upon arrival.  This technique is also effective when weather conditions prevent working in the field or for saving time by performing concurrent tasks.

In his article Mr. Chandler cites that OSM construction methods can reduce the cost of construction by 20% and accelerate construction 40 percent ahead of traditional methods.   He also cites a potential reduction of injuries by 80%.

These statistics are well documented and known benefits of modular construction and I must say I enjoyed seeing someone else talk about the benefits of modular construction.

In one of my recent article, I raised modular construction as one of several progressive procurement targets that could be added to your construction procurement strategy.

So in this article, I wanted to expand on the concept and review how modular construction improves savings, speed, and safety in construction?

No need for permits

Modular construction improves the speed of construction because it allows work to be done off-site.  This means that work can often be done ahead of the issuance of permits mitigating delays experienced from delayed approvals.  Imagine building interior panels before you even begin excavation on your footings.

Concurrent work

Another way prefabrication helps with schedule is because work that would normally have to be done sequentially can be done concurrently.  An example of this would be building pre-cast concrete sections of a roadway at the same time that abutments are erected.

Multiple Shifts

Fabrication of panels and sections inside of a shop means you can run multiple shifts allowing for faster production.  Imagine a production line where line workers on multiple shifts produce panels, cable runs, and precast panels.  Such an operation, would not only save time, but would be most economical too.

Avoid High Cost Labor

When you fabricate portions of your project off-site, you are not required to use union workers.  The high cost of union labor is often a financial drain on a project,  If you can reduce the amount of field time by performing prep work and prefabricating sections off-site the labor savings can be extraordinary.

Controlled Environment

Many of the chemicals and materials used in construction require specific temperatures and conditions to ensure they cure properly.  Often weather conditions limit or restrict certain tasks from being performed.  Working in temperature controlled environments eliminate these restrictions and ensure that materials set properly achieving the highest level of performance.

Reduced waste

Working in a shop environment also has the benefit of reducing the amount of production waste.  This is so because working in a factory allows for optimal use of materials, recycling of materials, and processing of scrap materials for use in other applications.

Higher Quality

One of the often overlooked benefits of prefabrication is quality.  The quality of prefabricated construction is typically better than field construction.  The reason for this is that workers have more comfort and better access to equipment such as cranes, drills, and lathes.  These tools facilitate construction allowing for tighter tolerances and more accuracy.

Enhanced Safety

Safety is also enhanced by off-site fabrication techniques.  Working in a shop environment allows for use of overhead cranes, lifts, and conveyors to move materials around reducing the risk of mechanical injuries.  Also relieving workers from exposure to wind and rain greatly reduces injuries resulting from slips and falls.

Closing

So these are just a few of the pros of prefabrication and modular construction.  I hope Mr. Chandler continues to promote OSM construction techniques on his side of the planet.  I will continue to do my part on mine.  Hopefully you too now appreciate the benefits of modular construction.

So have you ever worked with modular construction, prefabrication, or OSM methods?  Did your project do well?  Tell me your stories.

Thanks for reading.  If you enjoyed this content, please feel free to browse my previous articles and please like, share, comment, and subscribe.  This helps promote my content and is greatly appreciated.

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