Construction Skills Queensland

Researchers predict prefabrication will transform Queensland construction industry

New research from CSQ and the CSIRO is predicting the construction industry will be transformed by prefabrication and modular housing over the next two decades.
 
The first insight from The Farsight Project reveals that new technologies will cause a major shift in the way houses and buildings are constructed. 
 
According to the Manufacturing Excellence Taskforce of Australia, modular buildings today make up A$4.6 billion (or 3 percent) of Australia’s annual A$150 billion construction industry.
 
CSQ Director Evidence and Data Robert Sobyra said this figure will increase significantly as building companies embrace the cost and time saving benefits of operating in a controlled building environment.
 
“Working in a factory takes a lot of the risk out of building. There are no delays due to bad weather, more efficient processes can be used, and construction can occur at any time of day.
 
“Automated construction technology is well suited to modular building styles and may bring costs down further. Modular buildings are constructed in a very structured, pre-defined way. This sort of predictable and repeatable process is well-suited to being performed by robots.
 
“Modules and materials can also be sourced from anywhere in the world allowing construction companies to access the best performing and most cost effective options,” he said.
 
The research is highlighting several trends in the housing market which are facilitating the growth of prefabricated technology.
 
Personalised building design
 
Advances in manufacturing technologies such as 3D Printing could create a new playing field for personalised building design and mass production. Increasingly designs are entered into the computer aided drafting (CAD) system then the “print” button rapidly creates the object to specification.
 
Constantly improving virtual reality software and headsets are allowing new home buyers to personalise and visualise their house at no extra cost.
 
Mr Sobyra said those working in this new construction environment would require a mix of old and new skills.

“The transition to prefabricated construction will not eliminate the need for human labour and traditional tradespeople. Those building modular structures will still need to know the fundamentals of building and construction.
 
“In many instances workers will be required to perform the same tasks that have generally been completed on-site, they will just be operating in a factory,” he said.
 
However Mr Sobyra said modular building would take some time to be fully adopted by the industry and property buyers.
 
“A large number of customers will have to be won over to the modular marketplace. It will take some time for perceptions about the quality of modular housing to be erased.
 
“In addition, improved tools, information systems and training will help to reduce on-site costs and prolong the commercial viability of conventional construction methods,” he said.
 
For information about starting a career in the construction industry visit www.csq.org.au or phone 1800 798 488.
 
*ABS, Building Activity, Australia. Catalogue Number 8752.02015, Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.