Prefabrication is quickly becoming a popular concept in construction. Designers, contractors and building owners are choosing this option in larger numbers because of the way it has changed the construction industry. Benefits of modular construction and prefabrication include faster turn-around time in construction projects and higher quality of construction. There has been a transformation in how the construction components are delivered.
Prefabrication and modular construction are not entirely novel concepts. They have, in fact, been around for a while. But they have gained popularity in recent times because of the lack of skilled labor, type of projects, and location.
Humans have always been fascinated by innovation. The concept of homes has evolved and changed throughout history. Many people have now adopted a migratory lifestyle. These groups and those living in remote locations would naturally look for accessibility in their homes. With property prices on the rise, modular homes and those made from shipping containers have achieved high popularity for their convenience, lower price, and ease of construction.
Why Invest in a Modular Home?
A modular home is pre-constructed in different parts at a factory site. These parts are then transported to the site for construction and assembled for the final product. There are several benefits to investing in a modular home. Let’s consider a few of them:
- Time Saving benefits
The time efficiency of the prefab home is one of the major benefits it provides over the brick-and-mortar structure. In fact, since most of the construction is carried out at a factory site, time, labour, and costs all come down significantly. As an example, people who invest in modular homes save on rent during the construction period compared to those who opt for traditional structures, since the turnaround time on the modular homes is significantly lower. They can move into their new modular homes fairly quickly.
- Lower budget
There is a popular misconception that modular homes are a high-budget undertaking. In fact, with the greater efficiency and time-saving benefits, the investor can make big savings. Additionally, the close inspections at every stage of construction reduces the occurrence of mistakes or accidents significantly. This is another way in which money is saved on these projects.
- Better safety
Safety is a major concern at any construction site. While accidents cannot be eliminated completely, there is a major reduction when most of the work is completed off-site.
- Environment-friendly and sustainable
Modular homes have become increasingly popular with the current generation because of their eco-friendliness. Prefab construction techniques:
- minimise wastage of resources
- brings down energy consumption, maximising long-term appeal
- use eco-friendly raw materials like wooden flooring, zero-VOC paint, and high-quality insulation
- contributes to overall environment conservation by reducing on-site work time and traffic congestion at the construction site.
- Quality control
Large parts of the modular home are worked on separately at a factory site. This increases the attention given to detail on each component. Each component is subjected to greater quality control, reducing incidents of accidents, errors, and even wastage of resources. Efficiency is highly increased with the multi-dimensional accuracy that goes into prefab construction.
- Higher strength
Modular homes age differently from other construction types. They are structurally stronger than many other construction techniques and are known to survive hurricanes.
- Ease of relocation
Modular homes are easily dismantled and relocated. They will not need any new material for re-construction. So they are a popular choice for people who like to explore new places and ways of living. The steel used in construction can be endlessly recycled and is great for the environment.
- Adaptability options
Prefabricated homes can be modified both structurally and aesthetically. The process would involve deconstruction and modification, but it is possible to achieve.
- Savings on equipment usage and transportation
A prefabricated structure minimises the need for heavy equipment and machinery like welding machines and cables for erection. Heat-dependant tasks are also reduced, bringing a whole other list of benefits.
How to Implement Pre-fabrication
Opting for a prefabricated home is a great decision. But, to maximise the benefits you receive, it is best to understand the process involved thoroughly before you commit.
If you are attempting to adopt prefabrication techniques into your business practice, like Supertech in Dubai, UAE, here are a few key points you need to acknowledge:
- Digitisation is the first prerequisite for modular construction. You need to have digital systems in place for everything from virtual prototyping and BIM tools to data collection and processing. The supply chain should also be digitised for maximum benefit.
- An impeccable planning and implementation strategy needs to be put in place if you want to succeed in this industry. Both overall plans and minor details need to be planned, checked and verified at different levels for best results.
The Limitations of the Fabricator
The fabricator’s role is of great importance in the modular construction industry. But many limitations can impede their efficiency at the job site. Here are a few of them you must address before you jump in:
- The need for meticulous, detailed, and accurate planning
A lot of work goes into planning, measurements, calculations, and implementation in a prefabrication project. Minor errors or changes in ideas will lead to tremendous re-working. So it is very important to keep planning and measurements as accurate as possible so that things are implemented with minimal need for re-working.
- Doing the balancing act
Professionals like to keep the “Modular in moderation” motto in mind on prefabrication projects. They will know to consider what parts of the structure will benefit from modularisation. An entire structure doesn’t require prefabrication.
- Prefabrication is not completely versatile
Before taking up a modular construction project, the fabricator will consider the kind of project, special considerations, location and other factors to ensure that fabrication is possible and beneficial to the structure. It is not a completely versatile process. For example, open office spaces with special designs, specially customised buildings, and bathroom pods that are ADA-compliant cannot be taken up.
- Limitations on machinery
Manufacturing large components in a factory, as opposed to on-field assembly, presents many benefits both for the manufacturer, as well as their clients. These include benefits in safety, scheduling, quality, and a lot more. In fact, the benefits can only be limited by the manufacturer’s capabilities and here are a few of how this can happen:
- Code specifications
There are local code specifications fabricators must meet with their machinery.
- Size of machinery
The manufacturer’s capability can be assessed by the design capabilities of their machinery. The size of equipment like kiln and assembly line will determine the size and scope of the manufacturer’s projects.
Kinks and bottlenecks in your assembly line mustn’t disrupt the entire production process. The Assembly Approach and the Design for Manufacturing approach will help you outsource components/systems that can be assembled onsite.
- Space limitations
There are two major limitations that manufacturers must address upfront:
- Size limitations: Government limitations on the size of goods being transported play a major role in determining the size of the components that can be manufactured and transported to the construction site. Large components should ideally be transported during daylight hours with an escort.
- Storage space limitations: Off-site storage solutions are essential to maintaining a proper flow in production. This will be helpful when there are delays and disruptions on-site. Factory production can continue.
- Competitive bidding and poor outcome
There are two reasons why pricing set on competitive bidding is not the optimum practice:
- The possibility of optimising the delivery is highly reduced when multiple parties can bid to create a generic design.
- Unforeseen circumstances like unfriendly weather conditions cause manufacturers to pad their costs to ensure a profit.
Prefabrication and modular construction give you the benefit of saving time and boosting productivity and efficiency. But it is important to note that these structures don’t allow for changes later on, so it is critical that proper plans are finalised beforehand. Perfection in planning and calculations are the sure steps to success in this industry.