Exactly what does the construction industry at large think of modular construction today? Recent comments made at the spring meeting of the Construction Users Round Table (CURT) in Covington, Ky in April may hold a clue. As reported in an article in the Engineering News Record, the CURT has renewed a call for the use of more sophisticated methods of prefabrication and modular construction techniques. The CURT leadership wants to push designers and contractors to adopt these methods to cut the time and cost of construction as well as to complete projects with fewer workers and a higher degree of safety.
Founded in the fall of 2000 by construction and engineering executives representing major corporations all across the United States and the world, the CURT provides a national and international forum for the exchange of information, views, practices and policies of construction users from an array of industries. The use of prefabricated methods and modular buildings has gained a broader acceptance within the last few years, as evidenced by its use on military bases as part of the Army’s base realignment and modularity programs. Large engineering and construction companies such as Hensel-Phelps have partnered with modular construction firms like Ramtech Building Systems who can provide sophisticated permanent modular buildings as part of complex construction projects. An example of this is Ramtech’s Accelerated Building System, a permanent modular building approach that was used in combination with concrete tilt-wall structures to construct Company Operations Facilities at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas.
Developed by Ramtech, the Accelerated Building System utilizes the best of onsite and offsite construction by combining the speed and efficiency of prefabricated buildings with the quality and appearance of site applied interior and exterior finishes. Ramtech achieves this by employing simultaneous construction tracts. At the same time a site specific, engineered reinforced concrete slab foundation is constructed on the building site, the fabrication of the modular buildings are taking place in Ramtech’s manufacturing plant. When complete, the building sections are shipped to the project location, crane-set onto the concrete slab, then quickly weathered-in and finished-out on site. This form of design-build construction results in a superior facility with lower design and construction costs, a faster project completion schedule, and superior quality over older site construction methods.
The CURT has clearly recognized the advantages to implementing prefabricated systems and modular construction techniques which can complete projects faster with fewer workers. These types of process improvements will become critical in the future, in order to deal with what is projected to be a significant workforce shortage over the coming years.
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.