Modular construction practices paired with steel's advanced prefabrication capabilities can help shorten construction schedules
Rapid construction has been a hallmark of structural steel for decades, due in large part to the advantages of off-site fabrication. Structural steel fabricators complete the majority of their work in a fabrication shop using sophisticated equipment to produce accurate and repeatable results.
Compared to all other framing materials, structural steel has a long history of maximizing the benefits of prefabrication. The current trend of modularizing major building components accentuates those benefits and helps increase efficiency in the construction process. Involving steel fabricators and their building information modeling (BIM) capabilities early in the module design process has increased construction productivity in several projects. Here are a few ways that structural steel lends itself to prefabrication.
In this scenario, the design standardizes as many components as possible, rendering them interchangeable and simplifying connections/interfaces between them. This can bring an economy of scale to the project, enabling both suppliers and on-site crews to work more efficiently.
- MSC - Early to the Party
Although more commonly used in facades, panelization may also be applied to floors and other structural elements. For example, it is possible to frame the floor of an entire bay (including decking) either off-site or on-site on the ground, then erect it as a single piece, thus reducing the number of lifts required. Combining facade and floor panelization can speed up erection of the major planar surfaces on a project, and in many cases building services, finish surfaces and the like can be installed in the panels prior to erection.
In some projects, it is possible to subdivide the building volume into similar modular units or blocks that can be mostly built and finished off-site, transported to the site already assembled and erected with the majority of interior and exterior work already complete, leaving only inter-unit connections, mating surfaces and minor weather-sealing to complete on-site.
Still need help?
The Steel Solutions Center is for people who need technical assistance, innovative solutions, or tools to make structural steel design even easier.