Off-site Manufacturing in the Construction Industry- Explained

Modern construction methods include both on-site and off-site ways of constructing buildings. Traditional construction happens on-site while prefab construction is off-site construction. While on-site traditional construction is a well known way of building, modular construction is still an emerging area.

Success in off-site construction depends on meticulous planning and designing of parts of a building. We present to you here the details of off-site manufacturing in the construction industry.

What is off-site manufacturing?
We use the term off-site manufacturing to describe a process of constructing structures using prefabricated material manufactured away from the construction site and is transported from manufacturing facilities to the site for assembling.

How off-site construction works
The prefab parts are manufactured in plants under controlled conditions according to pre-designed patterns. The units that come in the form of blocks and panels are joined into sections on-site.  This assembly process is swift and produces a uniform finish. Buildings come up in very little time and show a better look than traditional construction.

Materials and methods of manufacture
Prefabs are manufactured using a wide range of durable yet lightweight materials and are available in various shapes, sizes, scales, and systems. Latest technology and dedicated software used in the manufacturing process add to the attraction of prefabs.

offsite manufacturing construction

Prefab range
Off-site manufacture produces sections of buildings, panels, individual units, and modular components that can be utilized in structural construction as well as interiors and enclosures and entire structures.

Modular prefabs
Modular units are the almost complete units manufactured in factory. They come as 3D units that are joined at the construction site to create service or structural parts of buildings. They come in two varieties- the re-locatable and the permanent. While the re-locatable variety caters to temporary construction and space needs and can be dismantled and transported to new sites, the permanent variety are closer to traditional construction that are manufactured in chunks.

Need for modular construction
Traditional construction divides construction responsibilities to different agents for various construction activities such as masonry, electrical connections, plumbing etc. The agents work with little coordination among them. Modular construction has all agents working as one team to complete a project inside out. The workforce for prefab construction is kept intact for across various projects creating team cohesion and understanding and speeding up work. Construction goals sometimes lead to compromise on quality of material. This subsequently raises the risk factor in construction. Pre-planned modular construction reduces the tendency by creating a balance between competing requirements.

Projects that benefit from modular construction
Projects with strict time schedules and need for least disruption during construction benefit most from prefab construction methods. High tech and repetitive projects also use prefab construction.

Once you know the pros and cons of on-site and off-site manufacturing construction you can decide the one you need to use for optimal productivity.  You may go for a combination of the two methods dedicating one part of the construction project to on-site work and completing the other parts with prefab building blocks.

Precast Structures – How are they used in Construction?

The concept of precast construction includes those buildings that are majorly made of components that are standardized and produced in a factory environment that is usually located away the site of construction. These materials are then transported to the site for assembly. They are manufactured by industrial methods of mass production that can help build a large number of buildings in a short time and at a low cost.  The main features of this construction process are as follows:

  • This includes the use of standardized tools, machinery and other equipment that is usually automated and can produce standard, interchangeable parts and products.
  • The division and specialization of human work force is an essential part of this process.

The entire conventional construction process is restructured to enable the interaction between the design phase and production planning. This helps improve the speed of construction. It is hence important to design buildings that have a regular configuration in plan and elevation.

Precast building systems are known to be more economical when compared to conventional multi-family residential construction.

Depending on the load bearing structure, precast construction systems can be divided into the following categories:

  1. Large panel systems
  2. Frame systems
  3. Slab-column systems with walls

Precast Infrastructure in India

Large panel systems
This refers to the multi-story structures that are composed of large wall and floor concrete panels connected in the vertical and horizontal direction. These panels enclose appropriate spaces for the rooms within a building by forming a box like structure.

Precast frames
Precast frames can be constructed using either linear elements or spatial beam column sub-assemblages. Precast beam column sub-assemblages have the advantage that the connecting faces can be placed away from the critical frame regions. Linear elements are generally preferred because of the difficulties associated with forming

Slab-Column Systems with Shear Walls
These type of systems rely on shear walls to sustain lateral load effects and the slab column structure resists the gravity loads. There are basically two main systems in this category. First, the lift slab system with walls where the load bearing structure consists of precast reinforced concrete columns and slabs.

All the precast structural elements are assembled by means of special joints. Reinforced concrete slabs are poured on the ground in forms one on top of the other. They are lifted from the ground up to the final height by lifting cranes. They are then moved to their final positions. Temporary supports are used to keep them in place until the connection with the columns has been achieved.

Pre-stressed slab column system
This type of precast system is a slab column system that uses horizontal pre-stressing in two orthogonal directions to achieve continuity. The reinforced concrete floor slabs fit the clear span between columns and after erecting the slabs and columns of one story, the columns and floor slabs are pre-stressed. The gap between the slabs is filled with in situ concrete and the tendons become bonded with spans.

The use of precast structures in construction will definitely revolutionize the way the construction industry works.

KEF Infra – Infrastructure Development Company

Infrastructure development plays an integral role in the growth of any economy. We are currently experiencing a revolution in the infrastructure industry and economies need to channelize their efforts in order to become future ready and adapt to the changing trends. Traditional methods of building are no longer sustainable as they are impacted by a lot of project delays due to climate changes, labour availability, and accessibility of material or due to regulatory approvals. These methods are also subject to a number of external factors that impact the build quality and the delivery time. These delays in infrastructure can also impact other sectors such as education and healthcare and reflect on the overall economy at large. In order to bridge this gap, and provide better access to quality infrastructure, KEF Infra has set out to employ more evolved and innovative methods of building technologies.

We understand that technology is the answer when demands and expectations from the infrastructure industry is high. Urban growth and development requires time and cost reducing solutions that only technology and higher skilled workforce can provide. By developing a long term solution, with science, design and technology as the foundation, we are positive that the gap shall be bridged.

Technology, innovation and automation are the main driving forces for progress and at KEF Infra, we offer the most efficient and cost effective building solutions without sacrificing architectural design or site utilization. WE are the pioneers in Offsite Manufacturing and have a state of the art offsite manufacturing facility that ensures that quality is maintained at every stage.

Infrasturcture

Offsite Manufacturing – the building process is taken away from the physical site to a controlled factory environment. There is a great improvement in terms of cost savings, time to deliver and the quality of the final structure.

Precast – this is the process of creating a construction product (a pillar, column or a beam) by casting concrete in a reusable mould. This is then cured in a controlled environment and then transported to the physical site and lifted to place.

Modular Construction – this is based on the idea of ‘assemble rather than build’. It brings about a paradigm shift in terms of infrastructure development – especially in the units such as hospitals, hotels and homes.

Above all, these techniques allow for more control over the final product and provide greater efficiency and speed of delivery. It also ensures that the final product is of the highest quality.

These methods are more appealing to the modern age infrastructure because, they are extremely cost effective, agile and sustainable with absolutely no compromise on quality.

The focus is to revolutionize technology and address the real world problems and provide innovative solutions that are sustainable – even in the long run. We believe in being the trends setters, path breakers and change makers to redefine construction!

Offsite Manufacturing Construction – drawbacks and benefits

There are two established methods of construction. The traditional construction includes transporting all the raw material onsite where construction workers ‘build’ and put things together manually. A more recent advancement in this area of work is Offsite manufacturing construction where the most common parts of the construction are manufactured in a factory controlled environment and are then transported to the construction site and assembled to form a complete structure. The parts are manufactured in a factory and are hence very precisely built. They are subjected to stringent quality control procedures and the quality of the final product is assured. Well, this type of construction is gaining a lot of popularity. However, there are certain drawbacks and certain advantages that you should be aware of. Breaking the conventions, this kind of construction has made it possible to raise the quality bar for construction jobs and has made a huge difference in how the construction industry is perceived. Here are a few points that highlight the drawbacks and the

off-man

Are there any drawbacks in offsite construction?

We are all aware of the many benefits of offsite construction, but always wonder what the drawbacks of this kind of system could be. The first and the most important drawback is that although it is an emerging method in the construction industry, there are still very few who have the right kind of knowledge to follow through with the entire project. The design and construction industry conflicts could cause hindrance. There have always been concerns about distance and transportation between the jobsite and offsite. Above all the lack of knowledge supersedes all other drawbacks.

What are the benefits of offsite construction?

The benefits of offsite construction are manifold. Right from

  • The prefabricated components speed up the construction time. This results in lower labor costs.
  • It allows for year round construction and the process is not interrupted by known factors.
  • The progress of the construction is not affected by the weather conditions such as excessive rain, heat, snow etc.
  • The mechanization used in prefabricated construction ensures precision and uniformity.
  • There is adherence to building code standards and there is also greater quality assurance.
  • There is less wasted material than in an onsite construction.
  • The materials are protected from exposure to other elements during construction.
  • The comfort levels for workers in greater.
  • The safety standards are higher than that of onsite construction.
  • High degree of customization is possible.
  • Quality control ensures high energy efficiency too.
  • Cost savings are huge!

Once the modules are transported onsite, the building is installed into a permanent foundation and is fastened to the ground. These buildings usually meet all the applicable building codes and follow all the regulations as would be required by any other traditionally constructed building. After they are put together, the final result is a highly robust, building of better quality – yet affordable!

 

Modular Construction- The Most Frequently Asked Questions

Conventional construction needs to be challenged and all the downsides of this type of construction need to be addressed. Today’s constructions demand a better way to manage quality, reduce construction time, and avoid the obstacles and hindrances of onsite construction. Modular construction is becoming increasingly popular as it very effectively addresses all the concerns of traditional construction methods.

However, when implementing such type of constructions, our minds are crowded with a number of questions regarding quality, reliability and sustainability. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about modular construction:

How is modular construction different from conventional construction?
A conventional building is constructed onsite – from scratch. A modular building is constructed in a factory – under a highly controlled environment. Pre-fabricated structures are delivered onsite where they are ultimately assembled to complete the construction. These prefabricated structures are called modules. Since the site prep and production can happen simultaneously, the overall construction is faster too.

What are the benefits of modular construction?
As opposed to conventional construction, the modular method is faster and cheaper too. Typically it is observed that the modular method is 50% faster than the traditional means of construction. There is basically no delay while waiting for the foundation to be poured and the framing to go up – and then begin the construction. The buildings are up and running in half the time – with a superior quality.

Modular Construction

Are modular construction materials of a lower quality?
This is a common misconception! In fact, modular constructions are of a superior quality even though the materials used are cheaper and lighter in weight. The materials used are just as sturdy as in any other construction and hence durable and reliable too. The structures are actually designed with a higher level of precision and consistency is maintained too – because the production happens in a highly controlled environment.

Is modular construction more expensive?
Again this is one more misconception. A modular construction project is 10% to 20% less expensive than a conventional construction project. Well, the good part is that it can fit various budgets too.

How long does it take to complete a modular construction?
Once the modules have been delivered to the site, it’s just about the time that is required to assemble them. This makes modular construction more and easier and hence quick too. Depending on the complexity of the design and the size of the project – this type of construction can be completed within months.

Is there a size limit for modular construction?
Well, the simple answer is – no. The only regulations that you could require to check are the government regulations in that area. You can otherwise design your building as large as you want. The rules are same as those that are applied to traditional construction.

This type of construction is becoming increasingly popular and more and more infrastructure projects prefer prefabricated parts that are assembled onsite. They prefer the quality, reliability and the flexibility along with the adaptability that this type of construction offers.

Advantages and barriers to using offsite manufacturing construction

Fundamentally, Offsite Manufacturing Construction is the manufacturing or preassembly of the various components of the buildings before they are transported to the construction site to be installed in their final locations. Offsite construction is based on the principles of efficiency and quality and they employ manufacturing philosophy which is conducive to an environment for innovation.

Prefabrication and modularization are two methods in which offsite construction can be achieved. Prefabrication covers the offsite materials, parts and subassemblies as well as volumetric units or modules. Modular construction greatly reduces the complexity and allows for customization. Three dimensional units are manufactured in a controlled factory setting and are transported onsite where they are finally assembled.

offsite manufacturing construction

Advantages
The factory is usually at a fixed location that has good transport links. It provides a controlled environment unaffected by climate or other such factors.

Value

  • Quality- consistency in the process following in a controlled factory environment directly corresponds to improved quality and therefore predictable product behavior.
  • Customer satisfaction – improved quality results in fewer defects and hence greater customer satisfaction.
  • Technical – Higher levels of thermal or acoustic performance are achieved due to the high level of quality assurance processes employed as well as the investment in research and development.

Efficiency

  • Time – Since all the ‘modules’ are prefabricated, the overall construction time is reduced.
  • Waste – the factory environment results in tighter control of materials and the material usage is optimized. The factory production of construction elements can have much lower resource inputs and reduced waste outputs.
  • Flexibility – a customized approach ensured a level of variations that can be done to suit customer requirements.

Sustainability

  • Improved work environment – The entire construction culture has been revolutionized because the factory environment greatly improves the working conditions for workers.
  • Environment – efficient use of raw materials directly corresponds to an environment friendly process as opposed to traditional construction where there is a lot of waste involved.

Offsite construction can offer significant financial benefits through higher speed of construction and early completion of the project. However there are a number of barriers too that need to be addressed before actually implementing such a construction method. Let’s explore a few of them.

Barriers in offsite construction
There are very few barriers or challenges in the implementation of offsite construction. Resistance to change is a very common phenomenon and offsite construction is a very different skillet that gives emphasis on holistic knowledge and an improved understanding of project planning and scheduling. The skill sets required are different. Higher capital investment is another key aspect to be considered. Offsite construction requires a strong business leadership combined with operational knowledge. Offsite construction also has a completely different business model too as it is more closely associated with manufacturing and draws its principles in quality and efficiency and reduction of wastes along with cost benefits.

Moving construction from an open site to a controlled factory environment is definitely the future of construction!

Why should you use precast concrete for construction?

Rapid urban development requires the help of new technology to go beyond more the traditional building methods. Precast infrastructure is one such technology that provides the means to bring up structures easily, quickly, and conveniently.

Precast technology provides the solution to infrastructural demands. It prefabricates units used in infrastructure development in controlled factory areas situated off-site. Once transported to the construction sites, these units are easy to assemble and fit to complete a structure. Reusable moulds are used to cast concrete off-site.  The concrete is cured and made ready for transportation to sites. What are the advantages of using this prefabricated concrete? Look at some of the benefits of using this material for infrastructural needs.

Precast Infrastructure in India

Less cumbersome
Precast concrete does away with the need to move cumbersome machines and all other raw material needed for making concrete to the site. It reduces the work of mixing, and carrying the mixture manually to be poured into casts prepared manually. Factory made units of concrete are a convenient construction alternative.

Versatility
Precast concrete is used in all types of construction work- for building houses, commercial buildings, infrastructure development projects, and special projects. The units come in both standard shapes and sizes and can also be custom made and designed for a particular structural needs. The range of precast concrete units extends from wall sections, to concrete beams and panels to hollow blocks.

Quality
Concrete units are superior in quality. They are uniform in size, each has the same density and dimension. The standardized product ensures a better finish for the building.

Durability
Concrete produces a tough surface that withstands corrosion for long periods of time. Precast concrete has the added advantage of tighter tolerance levels. The concrete mix made in the factory uses optimum water and is adequately compacted. Problems of curing are avoided with the use of precast concrete. The units are given correct drying time and the process of drying is carried out in a controlled environment to give them maximum strength.

Benefit to the environment
Use of these concrete units benefits the environment by reducing pollution of concrete dust. Natural materials are used to manufacture this concrete to help in controlling environmental damage. The process of production absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide and cleans the air. During demolition of structures, these units cause less pollution and toxicity in the area. The units are reusable which further helps in environmental conservation.

Variety of finish
The end user gets to choose from a range of finishes according to requirement. There are non skid surfaces, patterned surfaces, and smooth surfaces available. All the surfaces can easily be treated chemically and polished for better appearance.

Using precast concrete for construction work is a smart decision. It is safe, profitable, and durable. Precast infrastructure has rapidly grown in popularity because of its versatility and high quality. Using the blocks and units simplifies the task of constructing buildings.

KEF Infra is a Pioneer of Offsite manufacturing, modular construction company & precast infrastructure in India.