The inspiration behind industrialized construction (IC) – including prefabrication and modular processes – is to bring to construction the efficiencies that we’ve seen in the manufacturing industry. The overarching goal is to produce things in a repeatable way in a controlled environment.
In the Bridging the Gap Podcast episode 136, Jeevan Kalanithi, with a background in drones and robotics, and Adam Settino, solutions engineer, gave their perspectives on IC, including pointing out that increased productivity is not immediate. When any technology is introduced, productivity dips as people first learn to use it and adapt to new workflows.
Kalanithi pointed out several benefits from an industrialized, manufacturing-style setting:
- Processes are more easily observed and captured digitally.
- The IC workflows enable rapid decision-making, similar to the way things happen in a factory.
- The opportunity exists to optimize processes or fix problems more quickly. There’s no need to go through a multi-day or multi-week procedure of getting changes verified through multiple levels of approvals and decision makers.
- IC provides companies with a system of record.
- Modular construction begets tools and processes that keep the supervisor apprised of what is happening from day to day, even hour to hour, and enable them to make decisions accordingly.
- In a controlled environment, continuous video or periodic images can be used to catalog progress. Companies can prove and maintain their contracted schedule, avoiding penalties for schedule delays.
- With IC, you have the benefit of visibility. What was not visible before can be observed, enabling you to identify problems quickly, measure them and move on.
- A company’s potential using IC is to operate in a more efficient way. The challenge is not thinking of it as being a “silver bullet” for solving all your problems. Successful IC cannot arise from simply cutting and pasting manufacturing workflows into a construction setting.
- After workflows are improved for greater efficiency, employees can concentrate on making a bigger impact on the projects.
With IC, progress tracking in particular helps companies make decisions and make them quicker. In construction, just like manufacturing, knowing the details of how things are working on the job can be challenging. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are things about construction that are different at a fundamental level.
Every building that is constructed is different in some way. As Settino pointed out, each building is its own prototype. Construction companies do not typically build the same thing over and over, even within the same development. Construction is not conducive to production lines like manufacturing. Each project has a different site, different conditions, different constraints, different project requirements.
Thus, importing manufacturing processes wholesale into construction is not a workable solution. Trying to treat construction exactly like manufacturing is destined to fail. Rather, it’s better to note specific things about manufacturing and apply them in prudent and distinctive ways in construction. Workflows can be improved, and that will still make an impact.
If you need a guide to help you investigate industrialized construction, contact Applied Software today. The experts of Applied will help you champion the solution that is right for your company.