According to business consulting firm McKinsey & Company, Construction industry being on of the largest industry in the world, represents 14% of the global GDP. However, disruptions in construction projects continue to prevail. These disruptions are caused by several external factors like natural disasters, extreme weather conditions, volatile material cost due to geopolitical issues, emergency situations like COVID-19 pandemic and many more.
Modular Construction industry plays a vital role during such disruptions by bringing the advantages of a manufacturing or production industry to building projects. Modular construction is a process where individual building modules are constructed in an off-site controlled and isolated manufacturing facility and assembled together at the building site.
One of the biggest difference between traditional construction and modular construction is that modular construction can save up to 50% of the overall required time frame than that of the traditional construction. Modular construction also increases quality while reducing waste, improves budgeting and design flexibility and improves personnel safety by implementing preventive measures in emergency situations like coronavirus.
Reducing Project Delays with Modular Construction
Since most of the man hours happen in the isolated manufacturing facility, the amount of materials, equipment and personnel are the building site is greatly reduced. The site work mainly involves assembling the prefabricated modules on scheduled days considering external factors like weather conditions while the prefabrication continues regardless of the weather conditions. This reduces the overall time frame to a great extent.
Traditional construction methods must be temporarily suspended due to various external unfavorable conditions like weather, day-to-day traffic and social distancing during current emergency situations. Thus, building projects implementing modular construction are far less likely to experience delays that that of traditional building construction projects.
Improving Work Safety
With workers split into groups where some work on prefabricating modules while others work on assembling the modules on the building site, project owners have a much better control over the building site. Excessive work at heights in greatly reduced since modules are manufactured on ground level before they are assembled when required. This allows project owners to implement safety precautions and also maintain the work speed according to the project time frame.
Emergency situations like coronavirus outbreak has introduced major challenges for the construction managers at project sites and adapting to the recommended preventives is the need of the hour. Some of the hurdles are:
• Maintaining social distancing in reduced spaces.
• PPE kits introducing uncomfortable situations for construction workers, particularly in hot weather.
• Monitoring of all personnel becoming impractical looking at the layout of the construction site.
These hurdles can be mitigated in manufacturing plant. Social distancing can be implemented effectively with a proper workflow layout, indoor conditions can easily be controlled and monitored to eliminate the discomfort of PPE kits and the staff can be monitored easily in indoor spaces. Introduction of robots can also be implemented in manufacturing units where social distancing is not viable.
Adapting to Finances for Modular Construction
Up to this point, we have seen that modular construction is capable of offering many advantages, but one of the main barriers in modular construction is finding sufficient finance for building projects. The cash flow distributed throughout the project in traditional construction and modular construction is:
• In traditional construction, the expenses are evenly spread throughout the process. Materials are normally purchased in batches as the project proceeds. This allows building owners time to manage the required finances.
• In modular construction, the activities that are carried out in sequence in traditional construction are completed simultaneously. Modules for different floors are fabricated at once and assembled whenever required. Purchasing all the materials upfront consumes a large amount of the project budget.
With access to more financial options, modular construction would be possible in a larger number of projects.