Moving modular construction forward depends a lot on communicating the benefits of these processes to people outside the industry. For the people who are even aware of modular, there are misconceptions about it. From outside the industry, there can still be an attitude of surprise that buildings can be built in factories. Construction is not widely associated with that type of manufacturing yet. That is surprising given the fact that modular construction of residential units has been around for about five decades. According to Geberit North America, the number of modular units completed has dropped off since the early 1990s. On the other hand, modular construction of commercial units – e.g. healthcare and infrastructure – is increasing at a modest rate.
Some mass marketing around modular building may be needed in the USA, as it is being used in other countries around the world where modular is more prevalent. Companies in the industry continue to face a marketing problem outside the industry circle. Industry chatter about modular processes and benefits is on the upswing. Now it needs to be focused more outward.
On the journey to productization, companies need good partners. One thing that can help is for them to bring in stakeholders, like fabricators, to help decide what the best product looks like – in other words, what is most appropriate to fabrication and what level of productization makes sense for them.
Successful companies manage to build a culture that supports better communication. Workers keep an open mind about processes, and input is welcome. This can be especially helpful because people like to stick to what they know. Communication and cooperation enable a company to expand its proficiencies and offerings.
Whether it’s construction “the way it’s always been done” or newer modular processes, a lot of things are happening on a project early in the building lifecycle. A few examples are multi-discipline planning, valuations, permitting, site conditions, plus activities like site leveling and excavation. It takes experience and personal discipline to learn to prioritize everything that’s going on and anticipate what’s coming next. Staying organized is critical. Planning on the front side of a project enables you to be more flexible throughout.
When it comes to adopting modular processes, workers can learn much from their mistakes. In addition, other people can learn from a team member’s mistake without actually having to make the same mistake themselves. In effect, the entire team knows which mistakes to not make again. In that regard, more internal dialog helps a company achieve greater success. Workers can improve their value to the company by bringing issues to someone’s attention when they see them, especially things they don’t understand during a project.
As modular construction moves forward, it may be up to the industry to communicate its benefits to the people who have the greatest influence over whether these processes are successful: people outside the industry who influence demand.
Tune in to episode 195 of Bridging the Gap Podcast to hear more discussion about modular building processes and how companies can become successful implementing them.