Innovation, News

Modular Construction: Delivering Clients Flexibility & Value

Aldinga Beach Primary School modular build

By Terry Tsapaliaris, Operations Manager 

Conversation in the construction industry about modular construction is increasing with the delivery method gaining traction in South Australia. At Sarah Constructions, to ensure we continue to offer the best solutions to our customers, we regularly research innovations in our industry – and that includes modular.

The Sarah approach to modular construction has not been developed as a service that we are introducing to market; instead, we’ve listened to what the market’s asking for and have expanded our modular solutions in response. Our expansion of modular construction capabilities aims to “transform delivery options for our clients.”

3 types of modular construction

There are three main methods of delivering a modular project – volumetric, nodal and panelised. Volumetric is the most common type of modular construction traditionally seen in South Australia. Nodal construction incorporates common connection points, a bit like Lego. A panelised solution is basically construction using prefabricated flooring, walls and roofing. It essentially resembles a flat-pack.

The system we’ve adopted for our first round of modular projects is panelised construction. Through a cost comparison, we identified that a panelised approach, where we prefabricate off-site and then assemble on-site, was the most cost-effective solution for our customer.

“We’re not just selling one particular way of delivering. We want to give our customers ultimate flexibility. You come to us with your problem, and we’ll provide the solution. And that may mean a combination of different deliver processes including traditional or modular, or a combination of both.”

5 benefits of modular construction

At Sarah, modular isn’t a product, it’s an approach. We have adopted this approach to provide a range of benefits to our clients, the top 5 include:

  1. Less time on site
    This is the most obvious benefit. Prefabrication off-site means less time on-site, which is a huge bonus for clients and the main reason we looked into modular solutions.
  1. Greater control over program
    Constructing undercover, in a warehouse, means you have more control over your program and eliminate traditional threats to program like weather delays.
  1. Better quality
    You have greater quality because you’re able to inspect the finished product off-site before it leaves the factory.
  1. Value for money
    Less time on-site enables cost efficiencies.
  1. Greater control over resources
    Modular construction also gives you greater control over resources and material selections. For example, currently we have a timber shortage across the world, so we have opted for a modular steel solution instead.

The Sarah Solution Centre

To accommodate our expansion into modular construction, we have procured a larger warehouse space. The exciting inclusion that we’re adding into this space is the development of an interactive training facility; with the culmination of these elements we have created the Sarah Solution Centre.

A centrepiece for this training facility is the development of interactive building displays that detail high defect risk or highly technical elements. Our graduates and trainee supervisors will use these for hands-on learning. The inclusion of QR codes will link to training videos, to guide a step-by-step process to reduce and ideally in the long term, remove these issues or defects.

The interactive displays will be used to not only train our own staff, but also to collaborate with consultants and subcontractors to share industry knowledge and learnings. This initiative is driven by Sarah’s commitment to provide best-practice solutions by minimising future defects.

Virtual reality and physical prototyping

Complementing both our traditional and modular construction work is the increase of smart prototyping, which is also delivered from the Sarah Solution Centre. Our prototyping process increasingly involves a Virtual Reality (VR) render of construction projects. Using a VR headset, clients can virtually walk through their site and get a sense of what the finished version will look like.

This is extremely valuable to the smooth delivery of commercial construction projects as it provides clients the opportunity for very early interaction and feedback. Even before the physical prototype is built, clients can get a strong sense on placement of furniture, lights, how doors operate, how users will interact etc.

Building physical prototypes is common industry practice, particularly with repetitive work like apartment buildings and aged care facilities. Traditionally this involves the fast-track of one room for the client to view. However with the inclusion of VR render prototypes, we’re able to provide a virtual prototype much earlier; before ordering materials and so forth. This allows stakeholders’ early engagement and feedback, minimises delays and supports a streamlined process for final sign off.

To find out more about Sarah Constructions’ modular solutions, VR prototypes, or to discuss your next project, email Sarah Constructions today.

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