An FMI survey on prefabrication and modularization found that 81 percent of construction managers, general contractors, and electrical and mechanical contractors own their own prefabrication facilities. This figure, however, is down 9 percent since 2010. FMI attributed the decline in facility ownership to “inherent challenges within the modularization method.” FMI said these challenges include:
- Selecting the right type of projects for modular construction.
- State rules about large assemblies being transported on roads.
- Locating modular-assembly areas close to construction sites.
- Convincing people that prefabrication and modularized units can produce superior quality buildings.
- Assuring that the work produced meets code.
- Proving that the construction method works and saves money.
- Reducing changes after the work is designed and built.
The practice, however, is not dying, according to FMI. Sixty-one percent of survey respondents said they expect to see growth in prefabrication facilities over the next five years. “Industries that require construction of multiple facilities of similar design, such as health care, lodging and education, may see faster growth than other sectors,” FMI said. Driving forces that may have the potential to fuel growth include:
- Pressure to reduce cost, while achieving a competitive edge.
- The impending lack of skilled construction labor.
- The use of BIM, allowing greater coordination of design with construction.
- The need to increase productivity.
Download the 2013 Prefabrication and Modularization in Construction survey.