Prefabricated construction model for faster speed-to-market expands beyond data centers
As upfront costs remain high during the design and implementation of infrastructure construction, should it really come as a surprise that hotels are adopting the prefabrication model for quicker construction?
Marriott International made the announcement1 earlier in May regarding an expansion plan that would include 50 hotel deals in 2017 consisting of prefabricated guestrooms or bathrooms.
To date, a 97-room Fairfield Inn & Suites in Folsom, Calif. is its first hotel opened using modular prefabrication. The approach encompassed prefabricated hotel guestrooms and/or bathrooms shipped to the hotel site, lifted and stacked on top of each other by cranes, and building construction completed with electrical, plumbing and other finishing onsite.
The hotel company even confirmed the news firsthand, citing their primary driver for the shift in hotel construction “being the need to drive down costs and meet hotel visitor needs quicker to employ faster hotel stay turnover rates.”
While modular construction (i.e., offshore construction) is not a new approach, it will see an uptick in general adoption. According to the Modular Building Institute, about 3% of all construction starts use modular construction in North America, a number that they organization foresees increasing to a likely 5-6% over the next few years.2 Quality, time, cost savings and labor shortage all contribute to the need to entertain other, untraditional construction processes (some of the reasons cited by Marriott for its focus on modular construction).
For data center general contractors and engineering firms specifically, the growth will require some reconsiderations on their part as to guidance provided to their data center owners or providers.
For example, data center designers and engineers experience a lot of pressure in making sure a project plan accounts for all of the information received from all parties within a data center build. What if there was a way to simplify that work and information gathering that they need to account for in the design/planning specification?
General contractors, on the other hand, battle a number of their own challenges such as:
- Securing more jobs because of competitive pricing
- Keeping within set project budgets
- Staying on project schedule to prevent added costs
- Ensuring quality and smooth, timely project turnover to data center owners
Instead of their reliance on old commissioning processes that just don’t cut it anymore, what if general contractors could somehow standardize the commissioning process, simplify integration, and shorten the project timeline without additional cost to expedite it?
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits for both general contractors and engineering firms is in reducing risk that traditionally they experience during the commissioning phases found toward the end of a construction timeline. In fact, removing approximately 80% of the building construction activity from the site location significantly reduces site disruption, vehicular traffic and improves overall safety and security.3
While prefabricated data center build experiences its own challenges apart from overall modular construction models, it’s unavoidable that processes will evolve as data center owners and other mission-critical site providers look for ways to reduce upfront build cost and increase speed to market.
1. Marriott International, “Marriott International Expands Modular Construction Initiative, May 2017
2. USA Today, “Marriott Adopts Modular Construction,” May 2017
3. Modular Building Institute, “Why Build Modular?” 2017