Modern methods of construction are certainly making their mark in the industry, especially in infrastructure. On major projects many main contractors are using offsite construction to speed up construction and it makes sense. Instead of weeks of setting up formwork, prefabricated structures can be brought on site and installed in hours. Bridges, tunnels and highway overpasses. Will this be the way of construction in future, with traditional construction methods becoming obsolete?
Is tradition the enemy of efficiency?
The industry has been consistently plagued by external factors that result in on site delays. In recent years a major problem was the supply chain and the ability to get the right type and volume of materials needed on site. Cash flow, and issues with sub-contractors and labour have almost become an industry norm, with the expectation that delays are inevitable. And as a result acceptable.
In another area of focus, recently there’s a big push to reduce the carbon footprint of construction activities and reduce volumes of construction waste. Evidence points to more efficient use of resources in off site and modern methods of construction. And given how it’s improving efficiency on site in terms of construction time it may well be the way of the future.
What are the stumbling blocks?
On paper the case for modern methods of construction is strong, yet adoption has been slow. It seems the wheels of change continue to turn slowly in construction. Supply chains are entrenched, and shifting methods of construction require adjustments in operations. This can be hard to implement. Especially when traditional methods of construction rely heavily on manual labour and modern methods of construction involve more automation.
It may seem like a catch 22, especially seeing as there’s a skills shortage in construction that isn’t going away. In reality it’s about overcoming a mindset. There really are more than enough jobs for the labour force available. But the industry needs to become more efficient. If embracing technology and modern methods of construction are part of this then hesitations should be set aside.
Margins have never been fat in construction and too often what margins there are, get eroded by inefficiencies. If the industry is to achieve a turnaround, efficiency and embracing new technologies and modern methods of construction needs to be a part of that. Will the industry do what’s needed to accelerate the change?