As architects and clients push the construction industry forward by requiring improved efficiency and quality, it’s not a coincidence that the industry has turned to the manufacturing sector as a point of reference. In this article, I’ll present the many benefits that modular construction can deliver for architects and clients in this area.
Quality Challenges in Conventional Construction
The following recurring success factors, often lacking on conventional construction projects, have been identified through research over the last decade:
By choosing modular construction, your project team can effectively achieve these key success factors. Here’s how.
The Modular Advantage
Material Management and Installation
Materials are delivered and inspected at the manufacturing facility before being stored safely and securely in the warehouse to prevent damage or deterioration from moisture and the elements. Materials can then be installed without the interference of wind, snow, rain or extreme temperatures minimizing impacts on schedule or quality.
Formal Quality Program
Modular construction firms typically have stringent quality programs with best practice requirements that promote superior quality of construction every step of the way. For example, Britco Construction’s modular facilities are certified to “CSA A277 – Procedure for certification of prefabricated buildings, modules, and panels.” Therefore, up to 90% of the construction is completed on an assembly line in a controlled plant environment with excellent quality control programs in place. The same cannot always be said for traditional on-site construction.
Efficient Coordination of Work
Not only does the efficiently designed manufacturing facility result in the efficient sequencing of work and fewer conflicts in scheduling contributing to less rework or deficiencies, but we see less debris or stored materials, less construction traffic and safer installation processes.
Diligent Supervision of Work
At each stage of the modular process – from framing to finishing – there are Quality Control stations with thorough checklists developed to monitor the quality of the workmanship. Supervisors inspect modular components during each phase of construction, to ensure that each component meets the necessary criteria, thus reducing errors. A full-time, experienced Quality Control Inspector travels from station to station to add an additional level of Quality Control.
Standardized Internal Inspection and Tests
All modules undergo thorough inspections and testing as part of the Quality Program. For example, Britco Construction has established 94 inspection and test points that are observed for every unit passing down the 17 workstations on our production line to ensure adherence to quality prior to delivery to site. Getting it right the first time saves all parties money and time.
Third Party and Consultant Reviews
Modular Construction buildings undergo extensive third party reviews. Clients, consultants and jurisdictions can easily visit the manufacturing plants in order to verify quality. Further to this, Britco Construction’s facilities under-go frequent third party audits as part of the CSA A277 Program, providing an additional level of independent quality control.
In conventional construction, project teams are often made up of many different subcontractors leading to fragmentation, miscommunication and misunderstandings across the project team. The modular construction approach helps to improve communications at all levels of a project to ensure that information is exchanged in a timely and efficient manner. For example, the ability to bring designers and trades together to the manufacturing facility not only provides an efficient forum for communication but also helps to create the team approach required for a quality project.
Experienced Teams and Worker Skills
The fragmentation highlighted above can also result in poor quality work. For example, in areas where one subcontractor’s scope of work overlaps or interfaces with another’s can be a common cause of deficiencies. Modular construction overcomes this challenge by retaining teams consisting of multiple tradesmen at each facility for long periods (sometimes for many years), working together, day-in and day-out leading to continuous improvement and the collaborative experience that helps to deliver a quality product again and again.
Each of the points presented to date, when combined, result in a Quality culture that is difficult to replicate on conventional construction projects. Quality control is built into every step of the modular building process and enhances the Quality culture on modular construction projects.
When you choose modular construction, you not only get the benefit of more efficient construction processes, but you also ensure greater quality control helping to deliver a quality product, first time.
If you have any questions about Britco Construction’s Quality Control program, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Director, Corporate Quality Assurance and EH&S