As urban spaces become more and more limited, and the environmental impact of construction on the whole becomes more widely debated and discussed, the case for prefabrication in the industry becomes more relevant. There have been similar (seemingly drastic) changes within the industry over recent years, such as BIM and VDC, and in the same way we are seeing growing pains in the industry as it pivots towards prefabrication as a genuine alternative to traditional methods of construction. As more and more people become aware of the increased ROI for prefab structures to be used as part of construction projects it becomes a no brainer, especially in tight urban spaces where there is less space to work with than ever before.
The problems being faced with prefabrication being rolled out throughout the industry is that the knowledge being the technology is not in one central area. Instead there is a difference in expertise between fabricators, builders, designers, architects, and engineers, and there will be growing pains to find the solutions that fit all of the different processes into one smooth, overarching projection of a task. This will only get better with time as technology interacts with each other and communication improves. In the meantime, it is slowing down the inevitable push towards prefabrication as the best solution to many of the problems modern architecture and construction is facing in urban environments.
The best results so far are within construction projects where prefabrication was intended from the outset, rather than suggested as an alternative and a solution to a problem once a project had got underway. There are a few reasons why prefabrication is the best approach for construction, especially if VDC and BIM have already been taken up.
The first thing is that prefabrication enhances the quality and detail in every aspect of a construction project, at a speed that is unheard of using other methods. The vast majority of the production and construction is done within an environment that is controlled and is designed for manufacturing and assembly of the components to be used. This allows space for quality checks and tweaks to the production line as it happens, rather than waiting until components are built on site and seeing if it all fits together and works well.
This becomes important when you consider tight spaces in urban locations, where it can be hugely beneficial to have prefabricated parts delivered to the site ready to go straight away. This only speeds up the entire process and increases the effectiveness of the workflow. The construction site itself will remain debris free and much cleaner and easier to work on than traditional construction sites.
Prefabrication also helps to save the project time and money through the standardisation of components. By limiting the variability within the construction phase of a project you can have a greater control over the management of the project, and all schedules and budgets. This standardisation allows for better quality control for the industry as a whole over a longer period of time. It will only get better the longer prefabrication is used as the primary focus of construction.