REDUNDANT car industry engineers, designers and managers recently found new occupations at the innovative of the revolution in building and construction.
About 20 of the highly trained workers are already employed by the Melbourne-based Hickory Group to operate on the design and manufacture of prefab house, and also components who go into conventional builds.
Australia lags behind other industrial countries in the application of prefab and modular construction though these techniques offer numerous advantages. Not only may be the build time halved as well as the cost reduced, this factory-based strategy to construction allows buildings being set up in locations where construction staff is difficult to get. And therefore means industrial jobs in cities and regional centres for workers influenced by economic restructuring.
Hickory Group has so far completed 16 prefab builds, including office towers, hotels or even a hospital during the last seven years. Some happen to be as tall as nine storeys, such as a Perth public housing project that was finished in just 10 days.
It’s now begun making prefab bathrooms which have been sold to many other developers and slotted into apartment buildings around Sydney and Melbourne. In one of Hickory’s own projects in Collins Street, Melbourne, it produced a lot more than 700 bathrooms for your 65-storey building.
The advantages of prefab and modular construction are compelling, yet not everyone gets it. The government government’s industry “growth centre” agenda, which targets five key sectors according to advice from McKinsey and also the Business Council, doesn’t mention this industry.
But Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane, who saw one of Hickory’s Melbourne buildings this month, told The Australian the technique presented an “exciting prospect”. Innovation in industry and the effective use of new technology and its particular influence on the workforce have already been in the middle of the Powering Australia series this season.
Macfarlane met with Hickory’s joint managing director Michael Argyrou, who told him how former car industry designers and engineers were highly trained at finishing products into a very high standard. Macfarlane’s views about prefab were reinforced a couple weeks ago when executives from South Korean steel giant Posco told him these were developing their prefab capacity.
Argyrou said the Victorian government ended up being very supportive of the strategy. He said former car industry managers and designers were in fact better at precision-oriented work than those with a construction industry background. “They add a massive quantity of value to our own business; they are far better at it than what a construction guy will be,” he was quoted saying. Their skills were “very transferable” and the company planned to integrate them into the business through the prefab components production after which “slowly adjust them to the building industry”.
Hickory had about 75 workers at steel workshop and was seeking to growing the business to around 200 workers over the next two years.
Modular construction is different from prefab in that the property usually can be purchased in a steel container. Over the past 2 weeks a modular home made in Geelong and Mittagong continues to be assembled on the Sydney clifftop within the space of just eight days.
The design and style by Sydney-based Tektum was built-in the factory, loaded right into a container and then unfolded and assembled on-site at Bilgola Plateau.
Tektum’s co-founder Nicolas Perren said the company was applying car manufacturing techniques to home and building construction. But unlike many modular homes, the top-quality finish led most people to conclude which it was a conventional build.
“Few from the visitors feel that it has been transported on a standard truck and unfolded at your location with bathrooms and kitchen into position. Them all leave convinced this is basically the way ahead for construction,” Perren said. Tektum also has built a residential facility for disabled people Wodonga and is now chasing with regards to a dozen new projects within australia and New Zealand. Included in this are a childcare centre, remote clinics in Queensland, a golf resort in NSW, community halls along with a 300-500 house development in Christchurch.
Curtin University’s Jemma Green, whose research is centered on sustainable housing, is impressed with Tektum’s design and says modular housing is a far more efficient and expense-effective construction method. She said the shorter build time meant significant savings for investors and a higher rate of return. There was less waste involved in the manufacturing process as well as the buildings also delivered better energy use. “Building conventionally is so disruptive inside a city. It is actually disruptive for your community, about the roads. Modular can be a more rapid reply to a demand that exists,” said Green, a former investment banker with JPMorgan.
But Green was highly critical of the inflexible approach taken by banks which regularly refused to finance these builds simply because construction was going on in a factory as an alternative to on-site.
The dog owner in the Bilgola Plateau home, who asked not to be named, said modular approach was more appropriate towards the steep slope of the block because the container was dropped from a crane straight into the 06dexspky sub-frame after which unpacked.
But he admitted there is a perception problem. “A home is an important-ticket item. People think of it as light steel villa in comparison to a custom build. It is a perception,” he stated.