September 7, 2023 Rob Messina
Incorporating Industrialization In the Construction Arena
Industrialized Construction (IC) is a modern approach to traditional construction methodologies. It applies the principles of high-volume lean manufacturing to the approaches deployed in on-site (i.e., stick-built) and off-site (i.e., manufactured) construction. Also known as modular product integration, IC refers to building structures and sub-structures in a controlled factory environment, and then shipping these components to the construction site where they are integrated into the project. Interest in the application of IC is growing rapidly in the construction industry, and we’ve been applying these principles at Excellerate for more than a decade.
Just like lean manufacturing, the focus of industrialized construction is to improve efficiency, standardization and safety, while optimizing the use of available resources. IC has the added benefit of higher quality, resulting from the standardization of work practices. The ultimate aim of IC is to streamline project timelines, reduce total project cost and ensure high-quality results, eliminating many of the uncertainties that are associated with traditional stick-built construction. Industrialized construction is a leading-edge advancement in the construction industry, one that Excellerate and our division partner, Faith Technologies, are actively focused on enabling within the industry.
Benefits of Industrialized Construction
Industrialized construction offers a range of benefits. These benefits have the potential to revolutionize the traditional building process because they improve productivity at a time when demand on the industry increases, while the supply of available resources to meet this demand decreases. Efficiency is gained by streamlining the construction process through standardized designs and repeatable manufacturing techniques. The resulting output leads to shorter construction timelines and reduced project costs, as components can be manufactured simultaneously with site preparation.
The construction industry has progressed beyond all work being done on site, and much work is being done in off-site manufacturing locations. At FTI, we are on the journey to an industrialized construction future, and our Excellerate business is a great example of what’s possible. Our controlled factory environment allows for stringent quality measures, resulting in high precision and consistency in the production of building and electrical components. Additionally, by shifting a significant portion of construction off-site, the process reduces noise, waste and traffic congestion near the construction site, benefitting nearby residents and businesses, making industrialized construction particularly suitable for urban areas.
The optimization of labor is another advantage of industrialized construction. Although IC can require specialized skills, it can be less labor-intensive than traditional on-site construction, and many tasks can be accomplished with a less specialized skill set. This factor alone can help to address current and predicted future labor shortages in the construction industry. While there are upfront investment costs for technology within the manufacturing setting, the overall cost savings can be substantial due to reduced labor expenses, shorter project timelines and improved resource utilization.
Opportunities of Industrialized Construction
The adoption of industrialized construction creates additional opportunities for integrating innovative technologies into the construction process. Building Information Modeling (BIM), robotics, automation and virtual reality are technologies we employ which enhance overall construction efficiency and project management. Industrialized construction is also well-suited for scaling infrastructure projects such as data centers, hospitals and mass housing initiatives. IC methods can expedite the completion of critical infrastructure, benefiting communities and economies.
In regions facing housing shortages or rapid urbanization, industrialized construction can help meet the demand for affordable and high-quality housing quickly. Modular construction enables seamless expansion and reconfiguration of structures, which is an advantage for projects that require adaptability and future scalability. IC can also contribute to resilience and disaster recovery efforts. In areas affected by disasters such as hurricanes, floods or fires, prefabricated construction can accelerate recovery efforts, providing durable and rapid building solutions to affected communities.
Risks of Industrialized Construction
Despite the numerous benefits and opportunities, industrialized construction is not without its challenges. One of the primary barriers to its widespread adoption is the resistance to change within the construction industry and among stakeholders. Implementing industrialized construction methods also requires upfront investment in technology, equipment and factory setup, which can be a barrier for small construction firms with limited resources.
Transportation and logistics can pose challenges as well, particularly when transporting large, prefabricated components from the manufacturing floor to the construction site, especially in remote or inaccessible locations.
Additionally, local building codes and regulations must be considered to ensure they properly address the specific requirements of industrialized construction to prevent any project delays.
Despite the risks, industrialized construction offers immense potential for transforming the construction industry and addressing some of its key challenges. By embracing innovation, fostering collaboration and implementing best practices, Excellerate and our FTI partners help our clients harness the benefits and seize the opportunities that industrialized construction presents. As technology continues to advance and awareness of its advantages spreads, industrialized construction will become increasingly prevalent in shaping the future of building and infrastructure development. Contact Excellerate to learn how to get started today.
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