Planning and Constructability
How can you physically get pre-fabricated elements to the site? Are the roads wide enough? Are there any hazards? Is there scope for craning? These are just some of the many questions that have to be addressed at the onset of a project before any decision on the use of offsite manufacture is made.
Access is everything when it comes to making the most of offsite opportunities. It’s essential to consider how to get pre-fabricated deliveries to the site and on and off the transport at the earliest stage of the project planning. Location and logistics will influence what degree of prefabrication is possible. And while larger offsite elements such as modular units are potentially the most efficient, these are also more likely to be constrained by site conditions.
“Access is everything when it comes to making the most of offsite opportunities”
Planning ahead is essential. That means anticipating how major city infrastructure works at the time of the build might result in road closures that could constrain access to your site.
We research all aspects of site access upfront, beginning with the transport from the factory or the port to the construction site. For some sites, such as those in rural areas or on the city edges, transport is generally straightforward. But for sites in cities, it can be far more complicated to find a route that avoids hazards.
Typical constraints are small sites with narrow roads, sites on tram or bus routes, and sites where you can’t accommodate a crane for lifting units into place over a building. As cities get more mature, the available development sites are increasingly tucked away, and inevitably have more access restrictions.
Every city has its particular set of constraints. Where I am based in Melbourne in Australia, for example, we need to plan routes to site that avoid crossing tram lines in order to prevent interfering with overhead cables.
We look at all the logistical pros and cons. Is there scope for ensuring a steady flow of deliveries when on-site storage of prefabricated elements isn’t possible? What are the planning implications for large cranes that might be required for longer than with conventional builds?
Constraints might rule out large-scale prefabricated building modules. But we’d always then explore opportunities for a different sort of modular, such as flat-packed or pre-cast systems and components.
Site access is rarely ideal. However, if there’s a will to maximise the potential for off-site construction, there’s generally a way. But only if you’ve done your access and logistics homework first.
Interested in talking to us about using offsite in your next project?