Where does the money go? Waste on a construction job whittles away at profits in such an insidious way that sometimes we barely see it happening until we tally up the numbers at the end of the month or quarter or end of the project.
The PlanGrid Construction Productivity Blog article, “4 Strategies to Offset the Rising Materials Costs in Construction,” estimates that the cost of construction materials increases 3-5% per year, depending on construction activity and availability due to natural disasters. Thus, wasted materials take a bigger bite out of profit every year. Since prefabricated components are designed and coordinated in advance, the result is less waste and more efficient projects. Prefab also allows companies to develop more reliable materials lists, reducing overbuying, multiple deliveries and extra supplier runs. In addition, when materials are ordered too early, they need to be stored, rehandled, and likely paid for in advance of being used and billed for.
Non-fatal job injuries cost the construction industry 6-9% of total project costs.1 Injury claims and lost productivity can derail a project quickly. Offsite prefab building reduces the risk to workers. There is less risk in building partial assemblies in a manufacturing facility and transporting them to the jobsite than having workers build them onsite, whether in adverse weather or in confined spaces shared with heavy equipment.
Prefab and modular
Prefabrication and modular construction methods allow you to refine materials lists and increase safety at the same time on every project.
In the recent Dodge Data & Analytics 2020 SmartMarket Report on prefabrication and modular construction, survey responses were obtained from companies who currently use prefab and modular processes. The report gives first-hand input about their insights on the impact of material waste and safety.
Survey respondents reported seven main benefits of prefab and modular processes:
- Schedule certainty
- Cost predictability
- Reduced construction waste
- Client satisfaction
In using prefab and modular processes, 80% of the trades report improved safety performance and reduced waste generated by construction.
The Dodge report indicates that more trade contractors than any other participants on a construction project will benefit from prefab processes.
Even though a decrease in wasted materials was the lowest rated of the seven benefit by the trades, 25% still rated it as very high and 35% rated it high.
The skilled labor on a construction job is provided by the trades, so as a group they are more vulnerable to jobsite accidents: 31% of respondents cited very high improvement in safety performance, and 35% reported high improvement. As pointed out in the Construction Productivity Blog, “Top 6 Construction Risks – And How to Reduce Them,” safety issues not only affect the well-being and morale of employees, they can hinder a project’s ability to move forward
The use of modular processes on every type of construction project is anticipated by the specialty trades to increase in the next three years.
Again, the trades benefit more from modular construction than any other entity on the job. An impressive 85% of the trades reported less construction waste when using modular processes; 24% report very high savings, and 39% report high savings.
86% of trade contractors reported that using modular construction enabled them to improve safety, with 39% saying it had a very high impact.
Building information modeling (BIM) is the ideal combination of graphics technology and construction design, enabling comprehensive visualization of construction projects at each stage. Every aspect of the design can be evaluated by all teams involved, with a predictable end result. Changes to the model result in automatic updates to drawings and schedules, including bills of materials. While prefabrication and modular construction in themselves result in reduced material waste, using BIM enhances those savings, making BIM the fudge topping on the double-dip treat of modular construction. The trades are very committed to a BIM-driven workflow for now and are keeping pace with other project teams in BIM adoption.
Overall prefab and modular processes are winning strategies, and the vast majority of trade contractors that have adopted them are reporting significant rewards.
1 “25 Construction Safety Statistics and Trends for 2020,” March 9, 2020. Dustin Eusebio, BigRentz, www.bigrentz.com.
The experts of eVolve MEP have worked in the construction trades, so they know the challenges you face and the innovations that can make a difference. Contact eVolve MEP today and learn how the industry-trained eVolve mechanical and electrical consultants can partner with you to keep your business relevant and competitive in the years to come.