Prefab Structures Evolving with Technology

September 27, 2018

 

 

As 2018 moves into the 4th quarter, it’s fun to look back at the predictions made for the year to see if any are coming true. An increase in prefab structures is one of those predictions. Once associated with poor construction and cookie-cutter designs, it was predicted that 2018 would continue to see an increase in top architects looking to prefabrication for projects ranging from the needs of people who lost their homes to natural disasters, to wilderness cabins, and even high-end designer homes.

There are many reasons for this prediction. Prefabrication offers:

  1. Lower cost: Modular construction costs a fraction of on-site construction

  2. Measure of control: Most are assembled in a factory

  3. Quicker build: Many can be installed on-site in a matter of days or weeks

  4. Tighter tolerances: Stock can be ordered to spec and cut and assembled with precision

  5. Minimum site disturbance: Material is precut and assembled offsite

  6. Reduced waste: There is less overage and scrap

  7. Increased worker safety: Accidents decrease in a controlled offsite environment

  8. Reduced energy bills: Modular buildings often perform better than site-built counterparts

 

Uses of Prefabricated Structures

Historically, prefab homes were used when societies needed a quick, cheap fix to a housing crisis. Today, they’re still considered an affordable alternative to building from scratch, but now many companies also focus on high-end houses, wilderness retreats, backyard structures, and even large, complex, commercial projects. And because more architects are participating, the level of design is increasing. Here are a few examples:

  1. Pikes Peak, the tallest of the Rocky Mountains’ southern Front Range, offers an extreme environment of thin air, violent storms, and steep slopes. In June 2018, Colorado-based construction firm GE Johnson broke ground on 38,000-square-foot Pikes Peak Summit Complex at the top of the mountain. During the winters, workers will prefabricate building components such as rebar cages, roof structures, and exterior walls. All modules will be constructed in Colorado Springs and transported to the jobsite.

  2. To meet infrastructure needs in India, KEF Infra One, a prefabrication plant outside of Krishnagiri, is a one-stop-shop that makes houses, cafeterias, and hospitals along with the doors, windows, fixtures, and furniture. One of those projects is 400+ semi-permanent cafeterias delivered to Bangalore that sell inexpensive food to approximately 200,000 working class and poor Indians. KEF Infra is working to install more canteens across the state of Karnataka. KEF Infra’s goal is to build in half the time compared to industry standards.

  3. A complaint about sports stadiums is that they cost millions of dollars and are often empty. The concept of making stadiums more mobile can mean that they can serve more types of events. Conceived by engineered-wood manufacturer Rubner Holzbau and prefabricated stadium designer Bear Stadiums,  the small to medium-sized arenas will be made of Nordic spruce fitted into glue-laminated wood mass timbers, shipped to the location, and assembled on-site. The companies think that their first project will be soccer stadiums, and they anticipate that other sports could be accommodated.

Technology Lowers Construction Costs and Boosts Profits

As more and more architects join the prefabrication movement, designs get more elaborate, project teams get larger, and stakes increase. Autodesk offers numerous tools to streamline processes, increase collaboration, and reduce risks:

  • Autodesk® AutoCAD® for drafting, drawing, and documentation

  • Autodesk Revit® to visualize projects

  • Autodesk Navisworks® Manage to schedule and coordinate subcontractors

  • Autodesk BIM 360 to:

    • Create punch lists and QA checklists

    • Assign action items

    • Send notifications

With the largest staff of technical experts, IMAGINiT Technologies has the experience to identify the right tools for your company and project. Contact us for more information.

 

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