More and more building companies have been exploring the idea of “Offsite Construction”, which is often referred to as “prefabrication”. This is a break from the traditional method wherein individual materials such as wood, sand and cement are shipped to, and assembled, on site. The future would see huge indoor factories where components or modules would be built on “Henry Ford type mass production conveyor belts”, producing a series of standardisation parts, for example “Wall type 1b”, “Wall type 1c”, etc., which will be shipped and assembled on site. A “Back to the Future” type idea?!!! Consider the engineering firm Babcock who used such a system to build Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport.
This business model represents new challenges for the industry, principally logistics. In order to get all these relatively huge parts shipped from all over the world, (we will possibly see the factories being set up where labour costs are lower), arriving “Just in Time”, Builders will have to learn how to manage supply chains, part numbers, inventories, logistics, return systems, faulty product policy, bottlenecks, service levels, etc. It seems that Amazon's expertise has a lot offer.
We look forward to seeing the story unfold…
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