Tocci attended the 2018 MBI (Modular Building Institute) annual conference in Hollywood, Florida.
Owen Huisenga, VDC Manager: The conference has grown over thirty years – 850 owners, architects, engineers, modular fabricators, suppliers, and general contractors + construction managers showed up to learn what’s new in modular.
Here’s a few things we found interesting:
The United States is late to the modular game
Japan, Sweden, England, and Canada are far in front when it comes to modular construction. Japanese company Sekisui House can produce about 90 modules per day – this, compared to 8-15 modules in North America. Swedish company Lindbacks is about 15 years ahead of the US, according to a talk by Ivan Rupnik (Professor Northeastern University) and Ryan Smith (Professor University of Utah). Canadian company Ladacor is building modular with shipping containers, and they are getting close to an affordable net-zero option.
Marriott Hotels is buying in:
They dove into modular construction in 2014, completed their first project in 2016, and now they have over 50 projects to complete using modular – including a steel high rise hotel in New York. They spoke about the benefits to their franchisors: modular could increase speed and quality. Speakers said, “Don’t try to sell people on cost with modular; sell them on quality and speed.”
One obvious benefits of speed: faster time to market (early to open, earlier to produce revenue).
- Acoustics: modular hotel units have double walls, which drastically reduces the amount of noise
- Punchlist: as a franchisor, having hotel rooms show up 85% complete means that the punchlist is considerably reduced (Example: with conventional construction, a plumber goes in to fix a toilet; dents the drywall, your drywaller goes in to fix the drywall; stains the carpet, etc. Avoided with modular)
- Quality: 85% of the building is completed in a climate-controlled environment
“Reinventing Construction” by Steffen Fuchs
Steffen Fuchs (say fewsh) of McKinsey and Company shared research regarding problems with construction. We’ve heard the statistics many times, but it’s worth repeating a few:
- Construction is among the least digitized industries. It’s right in front of hunting (not kidding)
- 98% of projects incur cost or schedule overruns, averaging an 80% cost increase over original value, 20 months behind original schedule
- It’s taking a long time for construction to reform because: “less than 1% of revenues” are spent on R&D, versus 3.5% to 4.5% for auto and aerospace sectors.
We can keep naming depressing stats but we’d rather look at some positives:
- Radically increasing use of technology
- Training and developing the workforce
- We can raise productivity 5-10%
A few takeaways. Tocci’s first full modular project was 20 years ago, and we’re working on our 4th now, so we’re certainly not strangers to this technology or the benefits and challenges, but there’s always more to learn.