Buyers Tips to Modular Projects
Ryan Hollister leads Haskell’s Manufacturing group and enterprise-wide initiatives related to modular and prefabricated construction. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Technology from Illinois State University and an MBA from the University of Florida and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Professional Constructor (CPC), Six-Sigma Green Belt and LEED AP.
Haskell delivers more than $1 billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 1,600 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.
You have decided on modular for your next project. Great idea! Offsite manufacturing of your building will come with significant benefits.
• Quality improves because major components are created in the controlled conditions of a manufacturing facility.
• Safety improves because much of the work is done offsite in an ideal environment and significantly reduces onsite activities.
Bringing onboard partners that lack experience in this new delivery model will require a learning curve as they adapt to a new way of doing things in a change-averse industry
• The project schedule is shortened thanks to the ability to conduct your onsite civil activities while your building is in manufacturing.
• Costs are reduced by shortening the schedule (time = money) and, quite possibly, actual dollars spent on your project.
The Design, Manufacture, Construct (DMC) delivery model comes with many benefits. However, it also comes with its own list of complexities and challenges that, if not managed, can lead to costly and time-consuming headaches.
Whether you are building your first permanent modular structure or your 100th, structuring your project in a process-focused way is the key to reaching the finish line on-time and on-budget. The professionals you engage must follow a stage-gate process to ensure that vital questions are resolved prior to moving forward. Failure to follow this process in the interest of shortening the project timeline can have severe implications for time and budget later.
Understanding the method your DMC partners use to execute their work is crucial. You must ensure they follow some form of the following project steps:
1. Conceptual Development: Define success, establish the team, goals, and lines of communication
2. Create a Plan: Develop the budget, schedule, scope, and plans, including defined permitting requirements; time spent on planning for modular prevents costly rework.
3. Execute the Plan: Site work, manufacture, and install
4. Monitor and Report: Monitor key metrics for safety, quality, schedule and cost
5. Closeout: Perform the regulatory and contractual activities required to close the project, including lessons learned
Ensuring that your partners share your vision of success, have developed a roadmap to move from the conceptual through detailed design, manufacturing, execution in the field, and project closeout will put your project on a path to early success. Communication among all constituencies is key. Bringing onboard partners that lack experience in this new delivery model will require a learning curve as they adapt to a new way of doing things in a change-averse industry.
Lastly, it’s essential to be aware of and avoid these common pitfalls in modular construction:
1.) Do not purchase land or buy a building before fully defining your need. The Code and Zoning requirements of each location are unique and understanding the cost implications of compliance and management is critical to maintaining your budget.
2.) Do not delay in communicating with permitting and inspection agencies. Identify the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) early (State, local, and modular) to ensure you are meeting their requirements.
3.) When budgeting for costs unique to modular, remember to include not only the purchase price and installation costs but also freight, taxes, and, if your vendor is overseas, import duties. Failing to account for these items will negatively affect your budget and timeline.
4.) Be certain to schedule enough time for shipping. If your manufacturer is quoting you times for completion and not including shipping, there is potential for significant schedule disruption, particularly if you are dealing with international shipments.
5.) Plan for the long term. Consider the future of your facility. Give consideration now to long-term expansion plans to ensure your building is designed with capabilities for subsequent expansion.
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