Do We Have a Moral Imperative to Prefabricate?

At Tocci, our broken industry continues to drive us to improve. At the recent BIMForum conference on prefabrication and modularization, we saw the reversal of that statistical tide.

Trade contractors and self-performed contractors document their significant advantages in prefabrication. DPR Construction analyzed productivity of prefabricated wall panels, comparing two healthcare projects in the San Francisco Bay Area to production using traditional methods. They found:

  • 8% production increase in full height framing
  • 4% production increase in sheetrock installation
  • 1% production increase in taping/finishing
  • 6% decrease in material waste

On the Sutter Castro Valley Medical Office Building, prefabricated wall panels enabled productivity improvements in drywall (obviously) and ductwork. Southland Industries, a building systems contractor, cites similar productivity improvements that reduce installation time by 25%.

As exciting as many of these productivity statistics are, the presentations unearthed perhaps another reason to fabrication.

Prefabrication provides a safer working environment for our industry. So, do we have a moral imperative to prefabricate? Dave Pikey, The Hill Group

Intuitively, prefabricating components in a controlled environment is safer. At this conference, we heard statistical evidence of this. Southland Industries and The Hill Group both cited improvements to their EMR with prefabrication – Hill’s EMR has seen reductions from .9 to .6 then again to .5. Southland also shared detailed analysis with comparisons between safety factors of the national averages, prefabrication only, and integrated design and prefabrication.

Industry Average 5.7 1.9
Third Party Design (Prefab by Southland) 3.22 .78
Integrated Design (Prefab by Southland) 1.5 .12
Improvement over Industry Average 4 times 15 times

Table 1 Source: Southland Industries

So perhaps yes, more compelling than the financial reason for prefabrication is the ‘moral imperative.’ How will you engage with prefabrication on your projects?

Click to check out “Designing for Prefabrication

Click to check out “Team Strategies for Prefabrication

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