It seems modular construction and prefabricated systems are once again in the forefront of the minds of the general construction industry. Right on the heels of the recent comments made at the April meeting of the Construction Users Roundtable (CURT) calling for the use of more sophisticated methods of prefabrication and modular construction techniques on large-scale building projects, comes a report from the Construction Industry Institute. In a report titled “Transforming Modular Construction for the Competitive Advantage through the Adaptation of Shipbuilding Production Processes to Construction” the Institute concludes that adapting processes that have been used in shipbuilding to dramatically reduce costs and construction times can also be used in the construction industry to leverage the same benefits. Through the use of what the shipbuilding industry calls the Interim Product Database, a research team at the CII found that the same concept held significant potential for use in the construction industry. By incorporating reusable, modular product designs that can be easily retrieved from a database and scaled to size, construction projects can be delivered faster, at lower cost, while still maintaining both quality and safety standards.
The Institute, based at the University of Texas in Austin, has studied the modular construction industry for several years. Through this report, they conclude that the use of processes like the Interim Product Database that transformed the shipbuilding industry can do the same for general construction. They cite some of the same advantages that the modular building industry has long promoted. That is, modular construction results in reduced design time, a shorter construction schedule, lower material costs, higher quality, safer construction, and a greater degree of manufacturing innovation.
Steve Sickman is Marketing Director for Ramtech Building Systems, Inc. He has worked in marketing in the construction industry for 17 years and is responsible for promotions in each of Ramtech’s key market segments: Education, Government, Medical, and Commercial.