Category Archives: Modular Construction

Offsite Construction – Exploring the new innovations in construction in India

Construction needs are on the rise in India. Like all other developing nations, India too requires infrastructure development. While housing development is a real time need for a rapidly urbanizing India, rural infrastructure developments include roads for better connectivity, healthcare facilities, as well as cheap housing options. The pressure on the construction industry is immense and the demand far outstrips the supply.

Introducing the new technological innovations is one way to bridge this demand and supply gap. Use of off-site modular construction offers a solution here. While traditional on-site construction cannot be done away with in totality, manufacturing modular units in factories off-site significantly speeds up the construction process.

A well known way to construct
Component manufacture has been a well known way to build for many centuries. While brick kilns produced bricks that were transported to construction sites for use way into the past, more recent developments have included using pre manufactured tiles for flooring and wall covering, sanitary fittings, doors and windows and the like.

Prefab construction enlarges the scope of this manufactured factory made units to all parts of a building.

The method
Factory manufacture methods are used for both two dimensional units like walls and panels and volumetric units and modular units.

The two dimensional units are installed on previously fitted metal or concrete frames onsite.  The volumetric units are completed in factories and fitted on full stand alone structures. They include full rooms, shower boxes and the like.  The modular building units are fully prepared in factories and only need to be fitted in at the construction site. They are part of the structural construction of buildings.

India’s usage pattern
The Indian construction industry has been using two dimensional units for a long time now. Floor panels and walls built in factories and set in place at the construction site are a common occurrence.  Property developers, particularly those that are involved in construction of large facilities such as hotels and hospitals, are already using the volumetric units. They use pre built bathroom and toilet units in their commercial construction. Residential construction uses kitchen units along with the other two units.

The structural modular units are the ones that need to be considered now. The structural units are larger and require space for transportation and storage. Not all construction sites can provide the infrastructure and road width needed to accommodate these units. developers keep this in mind when deciding on the feasibility of using them.

Factors that make off site construction attractive to developers
Developers using offsite construction for their projects have experienced many advantages: cost benefit, on time completion, durability, sustainability, uniformity, and workers’ safety being a few of them.

Limitations faced in offsite construction
The most prominent barrier to embracing off site construction is the orthodox mind set of developers. In addition, the initial cost escalation involved is off putting.  There is also a dearth of skilled workers competent in handling off site modular units.

Providing training and proper codes and standards will help popularize offsite construction in India

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Modular Building Companies

Modular construction companies are coming up to meet the needs of the construction industry. They know the potential of this building method that uses advanced technology and mass production methods for building construction.

Modular construction is seen as a potential winner for the construction industry. Yet it has failed to take wings as expected. Modular construction companies have offered time and cost saving as the most important benefits. Shortage of skilled labourers in the construction industry also indicated a rise in moving from traditional to prefab and modular construction methods.

Major concerns

  1. The first concern relates to reluctance to move from a known, tried and tested method of construction to a new method. Whereas traditional construction is sequential the new method depends on working on all aspects of constructing buildings simultaneously.
  2. The second concern relates to the need to conceptualize, design, and prepare complete models of buildings before starting construction work. This requires bringing all stakeholders in construction work into the process at the initial stage.

 

What modular construction companies say about the new method?

 Rethinking and re-assessing building processes are the two most steps developers and project heads need to undertake when they go for modular construction.

They also need to consider the environmental issues and the storing space for units around the building site as soon as they decide on shifting to the new method.

Safety and security of the transported units is one more concern.

They need to keep workers on hand so that the unit assembly and installation is done concurrently.

Planning for modular construction

Before opting for modular construction you need to research the local circle for companies offering the facility.  These companies cater to a fixed area. Find the companies that supply to your area of construction.

Take a look at your building design and make sure it fits in with modular construction.

Finally, bring all the people you will need to during the entire construction process to collaborate in the project.

Modular construction works best when the design first and build later process is followed. Your contractors and you need to be clear about the job, time frame and finance involved.

As builders using the modular method for the first time it would be a good idea to hire consultants to handle the project for you. Ask your sub-contractors to visit the factory producing the modules to get a real feel of the work.

Companies have been known to construct high rises in as fast as in two weeks using the modular method. The buildings are strong and durable but also earthquake and fire resistant. Standard designs and reusable units reduce wastage of resources and add to the bottom line of both these companies and developers.

Modular technology has a long way to go. It is an evolving field that is yet to reach its highest form. As urbanization increases so will the need for rapid infrastructure growth. Modular construction companies are gearing up to meet this challenge.