UBC Undergraduate Research

Industrialization of the construction industry through prefabrication and adoption of current technologies Grills, Chantelle


In the current construction industry, conventional, on-site building methods are much more prevalent than off-site building methods, such as prefabrication. Prefabrication is the construction of building assemblies or sub-assemblies in a factory and then transporting them to site. The use of prefabrication in construction dates back to the mid-1800s, but has yet to gain wide-spread adoption in the industry. Today, prefabrication is once again gaining popularity, driven by the inherent benefits associated with the construction method, as well as global environmental and social factors. Prefabrication is also being seen as a means of improving the industrialization of the construction industry. The advantages of prefabrication address many of the concerns associated with conventional construction methods - skilled-labour intensive, has variable quality, is inefficient, and has high environmental impacts. In prefabrication, construction is performed in a factory, allowing for the use of automated equipment to reduce labour and full-time factory employees ensure that project delays due to the unavailability of skilled tradespeople are avoided. Improved product quality is achieved through highly sophisticated equipment, better supervision, and climatic protection. Factory fabrication results in improved efficiency, ultimately reducing costs. Environmentally-sustainable principles are also incorporated into prefabrication, most importantly the reduction of construction waste. Many of the benefits offered by prefabrication have already been realized in other manufacturing industries through industrialization. Industrialization is the replacement of crafts-based production processes with more standardized, machine-based processes. In the construction industry, prefabrication is seen as the first degree of industrialization, followed by mechanization, automation, robotics, and reproduction. With implementation of current systems and technologies and a greater environmental awareness, industrialization of the construction industry can be attainable.

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