According to FMI’s 2013 Prefabrication and Modularization in Construction Survey, only 40% of all contractors responding consider their capabilities in prefabrication and modular construction as a part of their company’s strategic initiative. Although the use of prefabrication for some project assemblies is not new, the amount of use and the move in some sectors to using more modular construction in a multitrade environment is a growing trend. It is a trend, we believe, that will continue to grow. A few of the driving forces include:
- Constant pressure to lower price.
- Need to achieve a competitive edge in markets increasingly calling for the use of prefabrication and modularization (i.e., hospitals, hospitality, education.)
- Lack of, or impending lack of, skilled construction labor.
- Use of BIM, allowing greater coordination of design with construction.
- Need to increase productivity.
Recognizing the growing number of market forces that influence the decision to increase or obtain greater abilities to produce prefabricated and modular assemblies is just the first step in what should be an overall strategic plan. Contractors have been known for the ability to mobilize labor, equipment and material to get the job done. Now, they must learn how to make a profit from manufacturing facilities. It is not always an easy switch. Owning and operating prefabrication facilities is not for everyone.
Mechanical and electrical contractors have had shops for a long time. Nevertheless, things are changing. Those shops should now be employing the best of new technologies, including BIM and automated equipment. How to organize those shops and labor for the best results should be high on the list for productivity improvements and training. Prefabrication capabilities and capacity are not just nice to have, but also should be strategically marketed as competitive advantages.
Selected Survey Statistics:
- Forty-eight percent of mechanical and electrical contractors had more than 11% of their current project work accomplished using prefabricated assemblies. That is slightly less than we found in our 2010 survey when the number was 52%.
- More planning for prefabricated assemblies is taking place in the design phase of construction, 35% for all mechanical electrical contractors in 2013, compared with just 11% in our 2010 survey.
- In 2010, 90% of respondents owned their own prefabrication facilities. That figure was 81% for mechanical and electrical contractors in 2013. However, in 2013, more contractors are subcontracting prefabrication and more of those who own shops are doing subcontracting work for others.
- In 2013, of those mechanical and electrical contractors that do not own prefabrication facilities, 17% are considering it, compared with just 5% in 2010. However, only 33% have plans to start up their own prefabrication shops compared to 57% in 2013.
- On average, for mechanical and electrical contractors, 12% of their total annual labor hours were committed to prefabrication. In five years, they would like that number to rise to 32%.
- On average, 26% of mechanical and electrical contractors surveyed have never analyzed the efficiency of their prefabrication efforts, while only 23% reported that they did that for every project.
- Forty percent of all contractors responding consider their capabilities in prefabrication and modular construction a part of their company’s strategic initiative.
To read FMI’s 2013 Prefabrication and Modularization in Construction Survey in its entirety, please click on this link: http://hale.sg-host.com/media/pdf/report/PrefabricationSurvey2013.pdf or paste it into your browser.