Construction is one of the oldest industries in the world. And with all the advances in technology, productivity in construction has been relatively flat and suffers from producing a huge amount of waste. With the demand for buildings soaring, the industry is struggling to build faster and more efficiently. Almost every building is designed without knowledge of what is manufacturable, is custom engineered, and uses manual and disconnected processes. One way to dramatically improve productivity for construction and improve sustainability is to “productize” building systems and common building elements to enable the use of manufacturing methods, enable scale, and increase sustainability – these concepts are the core of Industrialized Construction (IC).
IC introduces the AEC industry to manufacturing techniques that shed light on proven ways for improving efficiency, building at scale, reducing costs, and improving quality. Applying these new methods will require some changes to traditional processes but will yield significant gains. Several industry segments are beginning to adopt these methods, specifically companies that deliver many similar projects.
Companies building data centers, big pharma, residential, hospitality, hospitals, and infrastructure, are using IC to accelerate building projects and roadways with shorter schedules and improved quality. IC also enables teams to become more innovative, while providing consistency to their foundational work.
Taking it to the Experts
As part of the Digital Builder Insider program — a collection of resources from industry leaders and up-and-coming thinkers immersed in construction — I’ll be interviewing industry leaders in IC and sharing their insights.
The series, An Insider’s Guide to IC, will spotlight industry leaders, sharing their perspectives on the opportunity for prefabrication, how they’re integrating prefabrication into their business today, and what opportunities may exist in the future.
We’ll explore all corners of the built environment, from commercial to healthcare and industrial to infrastructure, to see each industry’s approach to IC. And at the end of the series, I’ll analyze my findings and aggregate the top insights that all sectors of the building industry can apply to their projects.
But first, let’s explore how each industry is incorporating IC into business practices today.
From quick-service restaurants to hotels, the commercial industry has long been at the helm of IC. Companies like Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Marriott, and Hilton use modular and prefabricated building methods to shorten the design and build lifecycle to open new restaurants and hotels faster and at scale across the country.
Modular and prefabricated building methods provide consumers with consistent experiences, regardless of dining in Florida or Oklahoma or booking a room in Texas or Michigan. And not only that, but the consistency in cost is also a benefit. These companies know exactly how much it will cost to open a new restaurant or hotel based on the design and materials.
Modular and prefabricated building methods enable the healthcare industry to provide better environments for people to live and work. There is increasing pressure to deliver innovative hospitals that maximize the ability to deliver healthcare in communities and IC is a key way to optimize this value. By prefabricating common elements such as operating theaters, hospital headwalls, bathroom pods, and many other elements, their cost and functionality can be optimized.
The COVID-19 pandemic provides another example.
The industry was charged with determining how to quickly and effectively design and build field hospitals to care for the sick in response to hospital overflow. Across the globe, we saw examples of how modular and prefabricated building methods expedited the development of hospitals.
In London, Interserve transformed the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham into a 1,200-bed clinical facility in just nine days. And in Boston, Suffolk Construction and its partners assembled a 1000-bed field hospital in three days.
Buildings for discrete manufacturing, electronics fabrication, data centers, distribution centers, and life sciences are an integral part of our society, from storing and shipping goods to manufacturing and developing life-saving medicines. The faster we can design and build these facilities, the faster we equip the world with goods and services.
For example, a modular and prefabricated approach to constructing a life sciences facility can bring a fully functional, biopharmaceutical building online faster than traditional construction methods. And with biopharmaceutical companies under constant pressure to reduce both time-to-market and costs, IC offers a viable solution.
The pandemic also brought an influx of supply chain shortages, forcing the industry to scale warehouse development rapidly. IC offers a sustainable solution to rapidly building these structures to support the needs at a lower cost.
Roads, highways, bridges, and tunnels see millions of motorists every day, leaving heavily traveled corridors crumbling and in need of support to keep people and goods moving.
Imagine a large-scale road and highway project where you’re replacing a bridge. Without modular and prefabricated building methods, a project that should take hours to complete lasts for several months or even years. This leaves motorists frustrated as we rely on roads, highways, and tunnels to keep us moving.
By using precast bridges and structures, the industry can provide durable infrastructure built offsite and then assembled in the field. This process expedites the time it takes to replace or construct a structure, providing immense benefits from time and cost savings to increased site safety.
Stay Tuned for More Industrialized Construction Insights
As you can see, each industry has taken a unique approach to IC. Are you curious about which industry is leading the IC revolution? Check back in to see who we’re speaking with and their IC perspectives and predictions. You won’t want to miss it!