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
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!
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!