Prefabrication involves constructing chunks of a project in a factory or other location separate from the main project site, then hauling them to the jobsite at the right time in the erection schedule. Ideally, throughout this process, the architect and general contractor collaborate with construction teams using a BIM software tool, most often Autodesk Revit. If you haven’t already heard about the benefits of prefabrication a hundred times, they include:
- better working conditions (protected from weather),
- more precise materials delivery schedule,
- easier staging for complex projects,
- better labor coordination,
- increased safety.
The September, 2019, Construction Productivity blog “Ultimate Guide to Manage Off-Site Prefabrication,” includes a list of best practices for offsite prefabrication. These best practices are based on firms using the building information modeling process to develop the best version of the project model before construction begins.
- Address clashes early. Plan for quality. Clashes need to be caught and remedied in the model stage – when they are easiest and least expensive to correct – not on the jobsite. One of the biggest budget busters on a job is rework to address interference and clashes in the built project. One way to “de-clash” a model is by using eVolve MEP. As an example, eVolve MEP will automatically reroute ductwork in the model if it’s going to clash with a beam. There is a version of eVolve MEP specifically for electrical contractors (eVolve Electrical) and another specifically for mechanical (eVolve Mechanical).
- Automate. Production of components should be automated as much as possible. Modular, repeatable components of the project, like restrooms, are conducive to offsite production, and roofs and walls also make sense. eVolve MEP works in concert with Revit and allows the detailing department to reduce the amount of time spent on repetitive tasks by 90 percent – the fastest workflow for detailing in Revit. Spooling sheets and hanger placement, for instance, take mere minutes instead of hours.
- Manage the schedule. Teams need to collaborate on the project schedule – who starts, who works next, which teams can work simultaneously? Firms need to avoid workflow traffic jams that end up costing money while one team waits around for another to finish. The workflow is particularly manageable with prefabrication, and there won’t be weather delays for the offsite portion of the job. Materials delivery is also more manageable. Each team can be accountable to begin and finish on time. Removing the weather factor alone, safety is improved with offsite prefab. With fewer people working on the jobsite at one time, there are fewer “working parts” – people and equipment – to be involved in workplace mishaps. Autodesk BIM 360 Build is well suited to helping firms improve construction quality, safety and performance.
- Use mobile technology. Despite every effort, issues will still come up on the jobsite. With mobile BIM 360 Build technology, teams on the jobsite can keep each other informed in real-time about issues and resolution of those issues. No running back to the job trailer or sending marked up drawings and waiting days for answers to RFIs. Teams at the prefab location can communicate and coordinate real-time with teams at the jobsite.
With better working conditions and labor coordination, superior materials management, easier staging, and increased safety, it’s no wonder offsite prefabrication is on the uptick. If you’re curious about the benefits of offsite prefabrication for your firm, contact eVolve MEP for a discovery call or demonstration of how the number one MEP software offers a seamless workflow in Revit.