Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Modular’s Presence Means World Domination

Modular construction is such a ubiquitous term covering many types of construction methods. This writer is old school and looks at modular as a six sided module built within a factory to IRC standards, shipped to the job site and set in place with a crane.

But the world looks at the term modular in a much broader sense. There are flat pack homes, manufactured homes, 3D printed homes, steel and concrete. Even wall panel and SIP factories are now calling their product modular.
Combining different types of construction methods on one project is rapidly gaining a foothold. With this type of construction-integrated manufacturing, it is estimated that 10% of traditional site build contractors in the US could disappear over the next five years. There is no doubt that modular construction and construction-integrated manufacturing is playing an increasingly important role all over the world. Modular is expected to rise 6% globally by 2022, with some countries already leading the pre-fab charge. Sweden is a model for modular home building — around 84% of detached homes built in the Scandinavian nation use prefabricated timber elements.
Compare this against the U.S., Australia and the UK where the figure is just 5%, and Sweden is practically a modular world leader. Meanwhile, third-world countries are considering how prefab can meet their housing shortages and cost constraints. Nigeria is one example that is taking a long look at modular housing to meet its crippling housing shortage — close to 20 million units at the last count. In Japan, around a quarter of all new houses are prefabricated. Japan’s success shows both the quality of assets manufactured in controlled conditions and how many new entrants they attract. As well as market leaders Sekisui House and Daiwa House, Japanese retail giant Muji recently started developing modules, and Toyota has manufactured prefabs for over 20 years.

Japan particularly prizes prefab construction for its quality and efficiency. Offsite modular construction removes the last-minute changes that can plague onsite construction and reduce the quality of the finished asset. Small wonder from 1963 to 2014 manufacturers built 9 million prefab homes in Japan. With growing skills shortages and a need to build faster and more cost-effectively, it will become a crucial competitive advantage to be able to invest in the right technologies and people and find the right business partners to leverage construction-integrated manufacturing.
My goal for 2018 is to work with the US modular housing industry to find ways to bring skilled labor into the industry and also provide an educational venue for “new to modular” builders where they can learn the best practices of modular construction before they sell their first home.
Join with me in exploring construction-integrated manufacturing through my new series of Symposiums this year. More information forthcoming soon.

1 comment:

Nick Polit said...

We are a Mexico company engaged in modular construction using all-steel components which are culturally more readily accepted than wood construction. We find your articles of particular interest as we are also very interested in the globalization of products and services. We would like permission to translate and re-post articles. Please respond to