June 1, 2022

5 Benefits of Offsite Manufacturing in Construction

Choosing to build construction components offsite results in higher overall project performance and efficiency. Offsite building processes are identical for each component constructed, which means that it takes less time to construct these components than if the raw materials were first delivered on-site and then integrated, one by one, into an existing structure. 

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Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash

One growing trend in the design and construction sector is offsite construction. This process, which involves separating the building process from the physical property site and instead, isolating initial construction in a controlled environment elsewhere, holds some unique advantages over more traditional on-site construction methods. Here are five of those benefits.

First, a Better Definition of Offsite Construction

Off-site construction completely separates the planning, designing, and fabrication of building items from the location in which these building items are destined to be placed once completed. This construction procedure involves transporting these items, once completed, to the construction site to be integrated into the final project there. 

A number of materials, systems and scales go into offsite building construction. Innovative digital software is used to support offsite manufacturing and fabrication methods and assembly techniques. Off-site construction optimization also involves coordinating research, design, testing, and prototyping into a modular system.  

Types of Offsite Construction

There’s not just one type of offsite construction; it encompasses several different methods. They include:

  • Volumetric Construction: Also known as modular construction, this method involves producing three-dimensional units offsite and then transporting them to the construction site to be bolted together. These can be as varied as individual elements like bathrooms or several rooms at once.
  • Panelized Construction: Panelized construction involves the fabrication of flat-panel construction elements, such as floors, walls, or roof panes, at separate manufacturing facilities. These panels are transported to the site and assembled as three-dimensional structures or to fit into structures already on-site.
  • Hybrid Construction: A combination of both above approaches, hybrid construction involves using volumetric or modular construction to build self-contained units, such as bathrooms or kitchens, and makes use of floor, wall, and ceiling panels that are likewise constructed offsite.
  • Sub-Assembly and Accessory Construction: Sub-assembly processes entail initially constructing building components at offsite locations before being erected permanently at the construction site. Elements can include prefabricated parts, equipment, materials, and building components like staircases, roof trusses, and precast concrete columns and beams.

The 1st Benefit: Higher Efficiency

Choosing to build construction components offsite results in higher overall project performance and efficiency. Offsite building processes are identical for each component constructed, which means that it takes less time to construct these components than if the raw materials were first delivered on-site and then integrated, one by one, into an existing structure. 

Using an assembly-line process in a factory setting is advantageous because it helps keep contractors on time and under budget, as they don’t have to deal with issues such as inclement weather delaying project completion. As long as there is enough staff and materials to construct these components, they can be fabricated around the clock in a warm, dry, well-lit, and controlled environment.

The 2nd Benefit: Higher Levels of Safety

Physical construction sites are unpredictable settings. Weather, visibility, and countless other variables can complicate day-to-day activities at an outdoor worksite, and this means that to keep workers safe on-site, much more attention needs to be paid to workplace safety. The amount of resources spent on onsite safety also increases the overall cost of the project as well.

In comparison, a factory setting is much more stable and predictable. Conditions remain the same on a consistent basis, making mistakes less likely to occur. Likewise, comparatively fewer dangerous work conditions exist inside, and while safety remains a priority, the costs associated with keeping a controlled factory setting safe for workers are much less than an unpredictable construction site.

The 3rd Benefit: Better Sustainability

The amount of energy expended at a construction site is often high, especially when heavy machinery comes into play. In comparison, using offsite manufacturing to construct finished products and then transporting them to the job site requires fewer vehicles overall. 

Additionally, it can be easier to calculate your material requirements with offsite manufacturing, leading to less waste. With construction materials being a major source of project cost, offsite construction can lead to better savings; builders can buy materials in bulk and store them more safely and securely than they could onsite.

The 4th Benefit: Better for Workers

Construction employees don’t have to work as hard when using offsite construction. According to the Steel Construction Institute, it’s possible to reduce the amount of labor required on a four-story residential development by as much as 75 percent when using off-site construction. Shorter days filled with less back-breaking labor means better employee productivity and morale.

Training workers in offsite building construction methods are also faster and simpler as well. Employers need to spend less time, energy, and resources on ensuring workers understand their respective roles in production, as assembly-line manufacturing compartmentalizes the scope of each employee’s role.  Additionally, as mentioned above, offsite construction is much safer for employees because of more control over the environment.

The 5th Benefit: Residents Face Less Disruption

If you’re ever been disturbed by the sound of jackhammers early in the morning on a weekend, you know exactly how onsite construction can be burdensome on residents who live nearby. Creating hostile environments for those who live nearby can be completely avoided when offsite construction is used, as offsite buildings are unlikely to be in places where there is a high density of residential properties.

Onsite construction does more than just add noise to local neighborhoods, though – increased vehicle traffic from delivery vehicles and construction machinery can also complicate matters, especially in urban environments. Offsite construction minimizes disruption to the lives of local residents significantly by reducing the amount of traffic by a significant margin, helping them get to and from their homes with less disruption on their roads.

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