The digitalization of the construction industry makes it possible: Modular construction with prefabricated components and their advantages.
The progressive digitalization of the construction industry has created the best conditions for modular construction. Entire components can already be prefabricated today with computer-aided systems. These modules are manufactured by robot systems with the highest precision and quality in external industrial production facilities and assembled on site according to the modular principle. Increasingly also produced in the 3D printing process, in which series production of components has been possible for some time.
The advantages of modular construction are striking: higher quality of the buildings, higher cost efficiency, shorter construction time, more cost-effective series production of the building components and lower unit costs. Not to forget the easier dismantling at the end of the property’s useful life with subsequent environmentally friendly recycling of the materials.
The standardization of the individual parts, for example, not only enables fast construction on site. The individual smaller sections can also be better transported. In addition, standardised, identical buildings are created, which are significantly cheaper due to the lower production costs of the modules. A further advantage is the flexibility: old or defective modules can easily be replaced by new ones. This also has a sustainable character, since only individual modules and not the entire system have to be replaced. And the reduction of uncertainties also increases planning and cost security for building owners.
Modular construction or the modular construction principle enables lower manufacturing costs through identical series, lower development costs, faster product cycles in production and simpler on-site assembly processes. Particularly on large construction sites, it is advantageous if finished modules can be installed directly instead of having to manufacture them on site. Whereas in the past identical elements were joined together to form a system, today it is possible to create complex systems from individually manufactured, differently shaped modules.
This is done with the help of digital design processes and robot-controlled manufacturing processes.
A look into the future of modular construction with prefabricated components
And this is how the near future of modular construction would look in detail:
Most construction work now takes place in precast factories where traditional production techniques are combined with advanced manufacturing processes such as 3D printing and mass customization. Factories use high-strength, lightweight building materials to produce large quantities of customized modules with the highest precision and quality. Once manufactured, the modules are delivered to construction sites for assembly. Logistics information in the digital 3D model – enabled by Building Information Modeling – schedules just-in-time shipment, so modules arrive at construction sites exactly when they are needed. On-site construction mainly consists of the assembly of the modules – plug-and-play in the simplicity of the Lego principle. The reduced amount of work on the construction site creates an increased need for new occupations in prefabrication companies. This creates jobs for production planners, logistics specialists and other technology experts. Digital models capture all the information that the construction managers and owners need to know about the properties and maintenance requirements of individual modules and submodules. Since the modules are largely standardized, maintenance is efficient and replacement is easy to manage. Data on repair and replacement costs in the digital model of a construction project also help operation & maintenance or real estate companies with some decisions. For example, whether problematic modules should be maintained or replaced. These are realistic prospects for the future.
It should not be left unmentioned that building with modules actually has a long tradition. Historically, this type of construction has existed since time immemorial. But just now, in the digital age, numerous new possibilities for building with modules are only becoming visible and feasible. Not only do the modules themselves continue to develop, but the manufacturing and design methods are also being revolutionized.