Prefabrication, a term closely associated with offsite construction, has been a compelling trend in construction for the past decade. When correctly executed, prefabrication can save construction companies thousands of dollars in labor and resources.
As the construction industry continues to adapt to prefabrication, technology companies are working quickly to create innovative software that will help civil infrastructure companies catch up with the times and make prefabrication operate more smoothly.
What is Prefabrication?
Laydown areas are overcrowded and often located in condensed urbanized environments or untouched rural areas, which means traveling in and out with all the equipment and the deliveries are a hassle. Getting the resources and machinery in and out of the location can also be problematic. And will eventually end up raising costs and lengthening timelines of construction projects. This is where prefabrication comes in.
Prefabrication is a system where construction companies move some of their work to an off-site facility. Typically, these sites have a larger area or are in a location that is protected from environmental factors. The key idea is that the off-site facility creates a better environment for the project or work than the laydown area.
Construction companies benefit from off-site prefabrication because the process reduces the number of contractors and resources they have to coordinate with on the site, which can often be a hassle due to the difficulty to operate inside. Projects and teams benefit from off-site prefabrication and are especially useful for complex projects.
Prefabrication in the Modern Age
In the modern age, prefabrication refers to the practice of assembling a variety of components at an off-site facility and moving those sub-assemblies to the construction area upon completion. It is often recommended by civil engineering consultants and is often used in building and civil engineering, where prefabricated sections of the project are repeated many times in the building plan.
Because a particular section is replicated so often, it’s more cost-effective to manufacture a bunch of them at once, rather than build them one by one on-site.
Benefits of Prefabrication
Prefabrication, when implemented correctly, has immense benefits to commercial projects, civil and mining contractors, and stakeholders. The most common benefits are:
- Cost-effectiveness: Moving partial assemblies from a factory often costs less than moving raw materials to each site and processing them there.
- Quality control: Prefabricating sections in factories means that they can consistently be monitored by the relevant personnel, and when errors are found, they can instantly be corrected, making the quality better. In comparison to the fabrication on-site, when errors are made, it will take more manpower and might make small reparations to make it usable.
- Maximizing the lack of manpower: Most contractors are already facing challenges in finding enough laborers, but construction projects still need to happen. Prefabrication helps teams make the most of the labor they have on-site to increase productivity and be more efficient in managing the manpower.
- Saves time: It’s significantly faster to manufacture sections by batch in a production facility in comparison to building it from raw materials on site. When you’re racing a rainy season, time is important and prefabrication can help you stay on schedule.
- Lesser environmental impact: Constructing pieces quickly offsite results in overall reduced pollution and also reduces the disturbance of areas around the laydown area. This protects nearby natural resources and natural areas and minimizes the disruption of local flora and fauna.
Nowadays, these benefits are getting the attention of construction companies and it piques their interest in prefabrication as a more efficient and more beneficial tool for streamlining construction. Stakeholders, contractors, managers, and laborers all face simpler and quicker work timelines, reducing error and driving further innovation in the industry.
Trends That Work Alongside Prefabrication
Two particular trends work well with prefabrication.
The first is Building Information Modeling or also more known as BIM. This technology allows designers to better visualize the construction lifecycle of a project. BIM also helps avoid clashes because of the easier visualization, you can easily anticipate clashes so you can avoid them. Prefabrication further enables designers, architects, and buildings to understand the intent and use of any structure, which helps them optimize the project better.
The second is lean construction. In order to reduce time, materials, and labor through innovative technologies that optimize projects and make them more efficient, lean construction is carving a path toward a greener and more productive (and efficient) future.
Whether prefabrication is being used for a section of a new project or for the vast majority of it, the benefits of prefabrication are significant, and managing every piece of construction on-site is becoming a more and more unsustainable option for firms who wish to keep up in today’s modern construction landscape.
Prefabricating portions of the project off-site can reduce the company’s environmental footprint and help keep the project on schedule. Over time, as builders combine this growing approach with new and innovative methods, we are bound to see even more efficiency, productivity, and savings.