MEP Masterminds Recap: The Benefits of Prefabrication with Jason Barber
Written By Caitlin Dunn

Jason Barber of ManufactOn was the mastermind of the week for the most recent installment of the MEP Masterminds Virtual Event series held June 11.

“I want to get wheels turning about what’s going on in the world of construction,” Jason began, “both from a prefab standpoint and an offsite standpoint.” He added that offsite construction can take many forms, including kitting, pre-assembly, prefab, and volumetric modular (stacking and joining factory built modules to create a building). He then provided data to describe the percentage of project work currently accomplished using prefabrication between 2010 and 2016, which is backed up by a study on prefabrication conducted by FMI/BIMForum in 2017 reporting the amount of project work using prefab  tripled during that time frame. “It’s definitely improved between 2010 and 2016, but I’d expect it to be a little bit higher,” he explained. “What that tells me is that we’re still in the early part of the curve. There’s still a huge amount of work that we can prefab.”

The benefits of offsite construction and prefab, Jason said, are undeniable. According to his information, projects can have as much as:

  • 80% reduction in construction waste;
  • 60% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions;
  • 20-50% schedule improvements; and
  • 20% reduction in project costs.

“That’s just insane numbers,” he said. “That’s just a win as a contractor. It’s not to say that [offsite prefab] is a silver bullet or a holy grail. It can also go wrong. You do need to plan ahead.”

Among the discussion topics were challenges and blockers to doing offsite prefab. One thing that needs to happen is a shift in mentalities between “stick built” and prefabricating products in-shop. Things need to change in the industry in order for prefab to grow in demand and use in construction. Participants agreed that one of the major roadblocks includes money to shift processes. There’s also a challenge in coordinating mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems Something else mentioned was the speed of design for prefabrication in construction. Participants agreed that in order for prefab to really take off, collaboration in the industry must improve. While that’s becoming more prevalent, there’s still a ways to go until we see widespread collaboration become the normal way of doing business.

Join in next week’s MEP Masterminds virtual event, “How to Embrace Disruption and Thrive,” with MEP industry specialist Jeff Sample of eSub. In order to embrace disruption, you need to understand the culture of innovation. Join us as Jeff Sample discusses disruption vs. disobedience and the ways disruption without boundaries is careless. Learn about building and spending political capital and creating a culture of innovation in your company. There is an art to changing hearts and minds about innovation, and there’s a difference between top-down vs. bottom-up approaches.


Sometimes even the smallest things can be the best teachers. Lessons learned come in many forms, for instance participating in the upcoming virtual MEP Force conference. Register for MEP Force today and take advantage of this opportunity to learn from your industry peers.

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