- Oct 13, 2020
Off-site construction, also called prefabrication or modular construction, is an increasing consideration for construction companies as a strategy to save time, money and improve the quality of projects. To successfully customize a tailored prefabrication plan for healthcare and science and technology projects, it is essential to have buy-in from all stakeholders to make this approach effective and ensure the design is conducive with a prefab approach. Understanding the needs of, and working collaboratively with, our clients and design team, the plan should be implemented early and the project team should work to identify areas for this style of construction that will provide the greatest impact. For instance, repeatable conditions in a project design are typically good candidates, and from our experience this specifically includes bathroom pods, exterior walls, head walls, foot walls, sink walls, charting stations, mechanical, electrical & plumbing racks in the corridors and operating room ceilings.
While conditions will vary depending on the specifics of each project, we typically invite various trades during the preconstruction phase of the project to assist in development of the Building Information Modeling (BIM) model and obtain shop drawings for critical equipment.
Some reasons to adopt prefabricated construction methods include saving time, increasing safety and improving quality:
Skilled trades want to find ways to alleviate the challenges of delivering a quality product with a shorter timeline. Prefabrication is an alternative solution to mitigate many of these issues. This technique allows for the building components offsite, when trades would otherwise be waiting for the onsite building to progress, saving time of our skilled trades. There are benefits to the client as well: we have seen a 35% reduction in the overall timeline in our Southeast hospital prefabrication projects. The speed-to-market timeline allows the facilities to open earlier, which makes for a higher return of investment for the owner. As another time and schedule saver, we calculated over 16,000 manhours off-site on a recent project reducing trade stacking.
Through our progressive safety programs and techniques, Gilbane is continuously raising the bar by applying innovative processes, checks and balances and the latest technology. With prefabrication, there has been improvement of safety for our on-site trades — Gilbane has had zero lost time injuries with that including over 200,000 manhours. This aligns with our Gilbane Cares philosophy built on the belief that everyone deserves a safe, healthy and secure work environment.
On projects where we have utilized prefabrication, we typically see zero RFI’s related to project routing or coordination. The extensive detailed organization of BIM-coordinated prefabricated assemblies contributes to the schedule savings by eliminating issues before they become a problem in the field. An additional benefit is the improved quality since building assemblies in an offsite facility provides ideal conditions that are typically in a non-critical phase of the project. This allows us to focus on quality and if needed, the repair of quality issues before being shipped to the site.
Technology advances and innovation are critical to an efficient construction industry. Although prefabrication may not be the answer for every building, we have seen value-added and significant improvement of our project metrics from conception to completion with high quality, low safety issues, and a speedier timeline.