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!