The Growing Demand for Prefabrication
With demand for construction rising, a shrinking pool of experienced trade workers, and workplace efficiency becoming a top priority, the adoption of prefabrication has been crucial to the manufacturing and construction industry over the last few years. So, what is prefabrication, and how is it helping the construction industry evolve?
What is Prefabrication?
Prefabrication is the act of making buildings or building components in another location, presumably one better suited to manufacturing and construction. Once completed, materials are transported to the final site, where they install components.
With many construction projects occurring in population-dense areas and locations that are looking for minimal site disruption, prefabrication provides contractors a way to reduce the time, staff, and machinery at a project site.
Why is there a need for Prefabrication?
According to Tom Hardiman, Executive Director at the Modular Building Institute, during the last recession, many skilled laborers left the construction industry. Since that time, the number of skilled laborers has remained low, creating a strain on developers and general contractors to find new ways to improve their efficiency. Over the last three decades, schools have also begun to reduce the emphasis on the need for skilled trade workers, which has further extenuated the issue. With fewer workers available to complete jobs, the emphasis on workplace efficiency has risen dramatically.
Prefabrication is one of the solutions to this issue. Using prefabrication, one carpenter can do the job of three on a construction site. By automating a large portion of the construction process and keeping one carpenter on the same type of task, that carpenter can build an entire partition, a job that would usually require several carpenters on site.
By reducing the number of carpenters on site, prefabrication inherently makes the job site safer. With fewer people on a construction site, there are fewer chances of incidents such as tripping hazards, messy walkways, or falling debris. By prefabricating components, these risks are mitigated through fewer team members focusing on the same task. This process also allows for efficient use of materials. While most construction sites need to throw away large quantities to ensure the safety of the job site, the prefabricated facilities are a clean space where materials can easily be collected and reused in the future. Now, contractors can keep their team safer, and save money on their material costs passing savings down to their end customer.
Timing on a construction site can mean so much more than money. A prolonged project can not only cost contractors and subcontractors unplanned labor costs, but it can also affect the reputation of the contractor. For instance, if a contractor was working on an addition to an elementary school during the summer months to minimize disruption to the students, the contractors would be operating under a time constraint to finish the job. While the contractor could wait until the first day of the summer to start construction and have to rush to complete the project, the same contractor could use prefabrication to prepare for the build months ahead of time. By simply recording the field dimensions during the school year (which involves little to no disruption), the team can record the necessary dimensions and begin to build the partitions off-site at their prefabrication facility. By starting the summer with the components of the building finished, the job could be completed within the scheduled time or even earlier, saving time, money, and reputation.
MZ Construction: Offering Prefabrication Solutions
While many contractors and subcontractors have been reluctant to adopt the new practice within the United States, MZ Construction based in Syracuse, NY is pioneering the prefabrication movement. With the understanding of the evolving construction industry, MZ Construction has developed its prefabrication capabilities over the last two years to deliver the best quality of work during its projects.
In a recent project completed by MZ Construction, Colonial One, the crew prefabricated all of the exterior walls to expedite the construction process and reduce the time on site.