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Top Trends - 10 Benefits of Prefab in Construction

Prefabrication (or Prefab) involves constructing building components offsite and at a secure facility, then transporting the materials and units for assembly on the jobsite. While on the jobsite, trade contractors assemble units and hand over buildings to their new owners. This process eliminates the need for traditional “stick-building” construction and, among many benefits, reduces waste. In addition, as the raw materials are built offsite and shipped partially assembled or assembled, prefab can substantially reduce the cost of labor, time, and materials on almost any project.

For decades, prefab had a perception issue because it was primarily a low-mass development method. Today, prefab is rapidly becoming a “must-do” in the construction industry for its incredible benefits. While we’re positive there are many more, here are the Top 10 Benefits of Prefabrication in Construction:

 

Benefits of Prefab in Construction

 

1. Better Security and Safety 

Construction is a hazardous industry, so trade contractors must always be dedicated to implementing safer processes. With prefab, there is less risk from environmental hazards because staff utilize sub-assembly workflows in factory-like and controlled facilities. Today, engineering, and prefab materials have improved to build assemblies and structures as strong as traditional structures.

On jobsites, trade contractors are susceptible to weather-related health risks, such as falls, etc., but working in a controlled environment ensures increased safety standards compared to the jobsite. In addition, strict factory procedures and processes help reduce accidents and injuries. For example, changing jobsite conditions due to changing weather, ground, human movement, excessive activities, etc., still have higher employee risk rates. However, this is reduced when worker time on the jobsite and the number of activities is substantially reduced.

 

2. Prefab is Cost-Effective

Materials and labor are not getting cheaper as the construction industry experiences increasing costs annually, challenging profit margins each year for trade contractors. In addition, weather delays and longer working hours increase the demand for labor and materials, which drives the price up for both. However, prefabrication offsets these rising costs through construction deployment and process improvements.

The McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital project is a perfect use case for demonstrating prefabrication’s cost savings. The staffing in the fabrication shop included just 14 people for all trades, resulting in a 30% reduction in trade labor on the jobsite to install the racked systems. Installing the racked systems in the building took about an hour per rack, totaling 220 hours. “The 2-months schedule savings resulted in a $5.6 million-dollar direct return to the owner. In addition, two months of unexpected operational time for the healthcare facility can mean an indirect revenue impact of $60M.

Mark Lamberson CPD

National VDC Manager| Limbach

 

3. Advanced Technology Trends & Industry Impacts

Innovations in construction technology and forward-thinking Construction firms have reinvented prefab and modularization. BIM (Building Information Modeling), Fab Shop production tracking, and Field coordination tech are helping construction projects achieve higher economic, environmental, and sustainability levels. In addition, optimizing construction delivery processes (e.g., lean construction) and integrating technology in the fab shop can help leaders visualize production, material, and labor costs on each project, assisting companies in optimizing and reducing costs.

 

4. Prefab & Modular Offers Flexible Solutions

Prefab offers much more flexibility for workers to disassemble and relocate sub-assemblies to different jobsites, making the most of readily available material. Owners and GCs are also seeing prefabricated construction methods as viable solutions because creative design restraints and lacking flexibility are no longer barriers.

 

5. Increased Quality Control & Consistency

Prefabrication construction is built and delivered using a controlled environment with manufacturing processes that are standardized, repeatable, and uniform to increase quality assurance and control. With standard quality checks throughout the build cycle, the process is significantly more consistent than building on jobsites where workers will require multiple skill levels (specialists, installers, etc.) and exposed to traditional challenges (e.g., overlapping trades, planning mistakes, weather, delivery errors, broken materials, labor down time, etc.)

 

6. Prefab Offers Substantial Time Savings  

With prefab, countless projects and studies demonstrate time savings compared to traditional on-site construction. With more precise planning, simultaneous multi-trade assemblies and removing the impact of weather, project schedules can be accelerated, as reported in the McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital project. Shorter delivery times can also enable construction firms to take on more projects at once to scale and achieve even higher growth.

 

7. Environmental-Friendly Construction

Prefab and modular construction, compared to traditional construction methods, are more eco-friendly in the short- and long-term. Traditional construction requires more bulk materials, which produces substantial material waste on every jobsite. Material waste goes directly to landfills, whereas prefabricated materials are typically recycled. Also, prefabrication opens up opportunities for “just-in-time” material ordering which also reduces waste and costs.  As a result, busy jobsites with heavy dust and frequent community disruptions (traffic, closures, etc.) are minimized. In addition, a fabrication shop’s-controlled environment allows for better air filtration and wall insulation, which directly increases energy efficiency.

 

8. Prefab Produces Much More Durable Materials 

Commonly used materials (steel, concrete, wood, PVC, etc.) for prefab are much more durable and efficiently delivered to the jobsites. As a result, prefabricated materials avoid issues (e.g., rust) commonly found in traditionally constructed materials on the jobsite.

 

9. Accelerating Project Schedule Certainty

According to a McKinsey Report: When a project involves pre-assembled framing or slotting pre-manufactured cassettes, construction schedules may be reduced by up to 50% compared to traditional stick-building processes. In addition, prefab, offsite, or industrialized construction offers construction firms much more confidence in delivering projects on time because adopting manufacturing workflows productizes deliverables and eliminates many common issues that delay projects.

 

10. Optimizes Workforce

Fewer staff and managers overseeing jobsite construction teams are necessary for assembling components at the jobsite. In addition, accelerated schedules and shorter timelines are easier to plan more accurately. In addition, fewer delays are likely to impact labor scheduling and reducing communication errors is another benefit.

 

Conclusion

Prefabrication and Modular construction are continuing to innovate and achieve considerable project success. Companies that approach it methodically using the right resources and technology will increase productivity, cost savings, and competitiveness. It also provides the end-users with substantial benefits. It’s time to adopt prefab in construction.

 

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