Thursday, January 14, 2021

“Adapting” is the Key Word for Off-Site Construction in 2021

Innovation, disruption and influencing are terms we’ve all been hearing lately to help bring Off-Site construction into the future but none of them will mean anything if we first don’t “Adapt” to new ways of working.

If we don’t begin to adapt to what is happening around us, how will we, the construction industry, ever begin to make significant strides in improving the oldest industry on earth?

COVID-19

Now, as we strive to recover, the coronavirus pandemic has forced a rethink of the way that buildings are designed and built.

When we adapt to the ‘new normal’, there is one area where there is widespread agreement: social distancing measures are here to stay. In order for on-site developers and contractors to operate effectively maintain social distance, they need to reduce their reliance on labor-intensive traditional construction methods. 

Modular construction requires much less manual labor on the job site, making it easier to ensure safer on-site social distancing. The modular factory also offers health and safety benefits because of their controlled environments. Modular construction is also quicker when compared to traditional processes, with buildings created in weeks instead of months.

Off-site developers need to adapt to a new way to build their projects. It may even mean building their own modular factories to ensure a steady flow of work.

Reluctant to Adapt

Contractors and Developers that have only built their projects On-Site will soon begin facing severe skilled labor shortages. Although many of them have heard of modular, they believe that going modular means drinking the Kool-Aid. 

Construction is a hugely traditional industry and change is often approached with a level of skepticism. 

Modular and other off-site construction methods are now being put on the fast track by the innovators, disruptors and influencers but until more off-site construction firms adapt to what is coming in the industry, all that new stuff will continue to go unused even though they know they can’t continue as they have been.

The need for new, affordable hoising isn’t going away and modular construction offers a solution.

Skills shortage

Across traditional construction, there’s a real shortage of carpenters, electricians and plumbers, with demand continuing to outstrip supply. By using modular construction there is a real opportunity to tackle the housing crisis without increasing the pressure on these more traditional on-site trades.

Within offsite construction, there’s a demand for specialized engineers, architects and contractors that are familiar with the intricacies of modular fabrication and the erection stages of a build. Increased education and outreach are crucial if we’re to impress the importance of modular buildings and encourage uptake of these roles.

Modular Slow to Adapt

There seem to be two camps in the modular industry when it comes to adapting to new processes and ideas. The first is “We’ve always done it this way” and to be honest, if you’re making a good profit doing it the way you’ve always done it, why change?

The other camp looked at the first camp and said “We can do it better”. The “better” costs money in several areas. First, there is the cost of doing the research to learn what is needed to be changed. Next is bringing in the people to help implement those changes and third is the actual cost of the equipment, processes, software, labor and everything else needed to make the change.

Several new modular factories that have started from scratch are already adapting to those changes but only time will tell if and when they become profitable.

Bottom Line: As in every other industry, modular and off-site construction will have to adapt to new pressures being put on them but what to adapt to, how much it will cost in time, talent and money and will the end result adapting bring our industry into a new future?

Gary Fleisher, the Modcoach, writes Modcoach News and Modular Home Coach blogs as well as the best site for off-site consultants, Modcoach Connects

Contact Gary at modcoach@gmail.com

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