Major contractors are investing heavily in factories and production facilities designed to move more work off the construction site and into a more controlled environment. Mechanical & electrical contractors have led the way, building mechanical & electrical sub-assemblies off-site and delivering them ‘just in time’. But the off-site construction trend is driving even more activity into highly controlled factory environments with attendant cost, labor and safety advantages. Whereas mechanical & electrical contractors may have been engaged in off-site construction for some time, the practice is now being taken to a whole new level. Today, entire plant rooms are being designed and constructed in modules for final assembly in position when the site is ready for them.
Other contractors involved in high-rise building projects are prefabricating the risers complete with plumbing, electrical conduits, gas mains, insulation and labeling for the constituent parts and lifting each section into place by crane. This not only reduces the amount of work done on site, but significantly limits exposure to risk that naturally results from doing intricate work at height.
What this really means from a business process perspective is that contractors are turning parts of their operation into manufacturing businesses. As a result, they are looking to the manufacturing ERP vendors for help implementing lean manufacturing practices for construction.