Assembling certain components of a construction project at a location other than the job site can help solve several problems contractors face today and, as a result, offsite manufacturing of wall systems is increasingly becoming the solution of choice for new construction and renovation.
The process typically enables different phases of a project to run on a parallel track, shaving valuable time from the schedule and saving as much as 50% in labor costs. That benefit alone can be a huge advantage given the construction industry’s well-documented shortage of qualified workers.
Building offsite can also be a safer alternative to site-built construction. With most of the work being performed at ground level in a controlled factory setting, the chance of workers falling (one of the leading construction-site accidents) is greatly reduced. The fact that off-site construction usually takes place in an enclosed space also protects workers and products from inclement weather, which can interfere with building schedules .
In addition to speed, value, and safety, the best high tech pre-fab panels today are produced in a temperature-controlled factory environment, in full compliance with codes for design, testing, and energy efficiency so that there is enhanced quality assurance as well.
While pre-fab insulated wall solutions are clearly gaining in popularity due to the many benefits they offer, a critical step is how the product will be transported following assembly. How do offsite manufacturers move their products without damaging the product or causing any harm along the way?
When it comes to transporting modular units or any other large prefabricated component, the process can be more complicated than simply loading them on a truck and taking off for the job site. Best practices dictate that after panels are engineered and fabricated and await transport, they are waterproofed and wrapped individually. Based on the size of the panel, it may be shrink-wrapped with other assemblies. These are elevated and stored in a safe, secure area and are then shipped to installers as needed. Safe and secure delivery of pre-fab panels to the construction site, includes detailed planning for transport, well in advance of delivery time.
In California for instance, the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has specific guidelines and requires permits for oversize or overweight vehicles. States could also require special routing to avoid traffic congestion or travel under overpasses without enough clearance, as well as pilot cars to escort the delivery truck.
After the travel logistics have been worked out, the load is usually turned over to professional trucking companies that have expertise in this type of transport. Once the product is on board, the driver is responsible for the tie-downs that will keep the load secure on the way to the site. The transportation company assumes liability for the safe transport of the product from the moment it is loaded onto the delivery vehicle to the time it is unloaded at the project site.
Once the product reaches the construction site, it then becomes the general contractor or end customer’s responsibility. Companies who install their own products would give up liability during transport and assume it once again upon delivery.
The key to getting any sizeable prefabricated component from Point A to B is planning. That means early collaboration between designers and the manufacturer.