Henry Ford is credited with the assembly line and revolutionizing the way cars are produced and built. His findings and practices have influenced manufacturing and production in the decades that followed.
Modular building and manufacturing is becoming increasingly popular within the construction industry, but what are the benefits?
In this post, we are sharing 6 key benefits of prefabrication and manufacturing:
1. Maximized Efficiency
Construction labor efficiencies and productivity have decreased, while all other non-farming labor efficiencies have doubled or more since the mid 1900’s. The Lean Construction Institute (LCI) recently reported that up to 70 percent of projects are over budget and delivered late. In contrast, recent modular projects have already established a consistent track record of accelerating project timelines by 20–50 percent, while saving customers up to 20 percent.
Traditionally, – and on a typical jobsite today – mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems are installed using the “stick-build” method: one piece at a time by multiple subcontractors with conflicting goals and schedules. Building this way gives the owner only 3-4 hours of value-add in an eight-hour workday.
By prefabricating assemblies for all trades at an off-site location, complete building systems can be installed into manufactured components prior to being delivered to a jobsite. This minimizes the disruption of day-to-day job functions and maximizes business operations during the duration of construction.
2. Minimized Waste
According to the Modular Building Institute, construction and demolition waste are the single largest waste source in the US, producing more than 135 million tons of debris each year. Additionally, LCI states that roughly 70 percent of construction-related activities are non-value add or waste.
Manufacturing works to eliminate multiple functions of waste including:
- Poor utilization of talent
- Excessive transportation
- Excessive inventory
- Excessive footsteps
- Over processing
Developing standardized and repeatable units for construction projects allows for a reduction in wasted time and material, reduced cost, and safer work environments. Utilizing repeatable build units also leads to a reduction in design duration. By creating standardized room templates, virtual design files can be applied to any new construction project – not only allowing for a reduction in design duration but also increased project predictability and higher quality products.
There are many building units that are well suited to be standardized, manufactured, and assembled in the field, such as medical exam rooms, office space, and restrooms. Throughout our Project Mountain R&D efforts, we have proven that by embracing standardization and applying manufacturing and lean principles we can build in a fraction of the time.
For example, exam rooms account for 39% of the usable space* at the medical office building that Project Mountain 2 was based upon. Once a build unit is created it can be utilized again on future projects, eliminating the need for redesign.
While construction sites are often cluttered and subject to a variety of environmental factors and safety hazards, prefabrication and manufacturing are performed in an off-site controlled work environment. Moving construction processes off-site is not only safer, but also allows contractors to stay out of the way of the customer by not bogging down the jobsite.
5. Overcoming the Skilled Labor Gap
It is no secret that skilled labor is on the decline. Construction companies everywhere are faced with the growing concern for availability of a skilled-labor workforce to meet the demands of projects. The US Chamber of Commerce reports that more than 90 percent of contractors are concerned over labor shortages.
NPR has reported that “High school graduates have been so effectively encouraged to get a bachelor’s that high-paid jobs requiring shorter and less expensive training are going unfilled. This affects those students and also poses a real threat to the economy.” According to Pew Research Center, the US population with a bachelor’s degree is at its highest point yet.
Without taking jobs away, manufacturing combats the increasing skills gap by shifting the skillset required to complete construction projects to require less specialized knowledge.
6. Supply Chain & Economy of Scale
There is opportunity to capture cost savings when you bulk buy. This goes for toilet paper at Costco and construction materials. To put it simply, the more you buy the more opportunity you have to leverage bulk discounts. Standardization of products and assemblies increase the opportunity for repeat material needs, making bulk buying a clear advantage to manufacturing and prefabrication.
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