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Modular Construction: A Contemporary Approach to a Traditional Process

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Tom Merlo

By Tom Merlo, PIOVTEK Business Development Associate

Manufactured building components simplify the traditional construction process by reducing typical challenges from the job site. Trade stacking, schedule congestion, inconsistent quality, and variance are critical challenges facing traditional methods of construction. Utilizing manufacturing methods to optimize construction greatly increases productivity and quality while reducing labor requirements and inefficiencies in schedule that are becoming more and more difficult for construction and skilled trade partners.

​Manufactured building components are sections of a building or interior space that have repeated in design. Components can be apportioned as parts and built in a quality-controlled, process driven production facility, and easily installed into the building on site. Examples of a manufactured building component include:

  • Full Finished Bathroom Units
  • Kitchens
  • Headwall Cassettes for Healthcare
  • Interior Walls
  • Other unit or element that is repeated in the building or space

As the skilled labor force decreases, identifying a remedy to reduce the impact of these challenges is growing more crucial.  Applying the same successful assembly line processes utilized in heavy volume and high-quality production lines like the automobile industry, we enhance job site productivity by eliminating labor requirements in tight spaces. Constricted spaces that require hundreds of parts and multiple trades are a haven that have the most risk for variance and quality problems.

The benefits of manufactured components include:

  • Fewer people are needed on site at the same time
  • Shorter building programs – the construction of units occur simultaneously with site work, allowing some projects to be completed in half the time of traditional construction
  • Project is less impacted by weather or labor shortages
  • Units are manufactured and inspected so quality control is improved
  • Safety – the indoor construction environment reduces the risks of accidents and related liabilities for workers

Early collaboration and coordination are key to the success of integrating manufactured building components into any project. Engaging early with a manufacturing partner to work with the owner, end user and the building and design team will ensure that all proposed components meet project specifications, design criteria, and code compliance. The uniformity in design, delivery, and cost of a component reduces inefficiencies while offering the most certainty and best value for the owner.

Manufactured building components benefit a variety of markets:

Healthcare – Healthcare organizations are under more pressure now than ever to provide access to affordable care that will achieve the pressing needs of the community. The urgency to meet this demand, manage costs, and meet industry regulations are significant challenges when planning for growth. By incorporating the use of standard manufactured building designs on multiple projects, healthcare project teams can greatly reduce these challenges and offer the most efficient and economical solutions that meet industry guidelines. Developing design standards and repeating the process on multiple projects provides the opportunity to create a sustainable design, construction, quality, and schedule advantages over a greater period with much larger return on investment.

Hospitality – The hospitality market is a highly competitive business that requires developers to make quick decisions regarding location, scale, and branding. The consistency associated with brand standards and necessity to gain competitive advantages make hospitality clients one of the greatest beneficiaries of standard design implementation. The use of design standards on hotel projects lowers design and labor costs and greatly reduces the risk of project delays, resulting in a shorter path to revenue and speedy return for investors. Repeatability continuously applied over multiple projects also ensures increased cost control, construction efficiencies, speed to market, and can greatly improve energy controls through greater environmental and quality control processes.

Housing – The increased desire for a low-maintenance, walkable, and a live-work-play lifestyle has left developers racing to meet the high demand for multi-family and mixed-use housing spaces in both urban and suburban sites. (i.e. student housing, senior lifestyle communities, multi-family residential housing, custom housing programs). The use of manufactured building units in housing speeds up construction lowers design and labor costs, and significantly reduces the risk of project delays resulting in quicker return for investors. Repeatability continuously applied over multiple projects ensures higher design and construction efficiencies, increases speed to market, and can greatly improve energy efficiencies through greater environmental and quality control processes.

Contact Tom Merlo, PIOVTEK Business Development Associate – Rocky Mountain Region at 661.341.1658 or  merlo_t@msn.com 

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