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Innovation 2: modular building systems

Important development in construction is working with modular construction systems.
Modular construction
© University of Twente - Hans Voordijk and Arjen Adriaanse
The idea behind modular construction systems is that these consist of standard modules that can be designed and produced independent from one another. The modules are made in a factory, transported to the construction site and then assembled into a building. The combination can be dismantled later and the parts reused again at other locations.
Modular construction systems can be applied for various types of construction works. Think of modular hospitals, football stadiums, modular car parks and modular residences. Within housing construction, working with modular construction systems is becoming more common. A variety of clients’ requirements can be fulfilled by combining various modules into one residence. Working with modular construction systems often involves cooperating with permanent partners independent of any projects. A considerable benefit is that this leads to greater longitudinal integration with lessons learned between projects. Standardization of modules and working with permanent partners in the case of modular construction systems lead to possibilities for considerable streamlining and automating processes.
Working with modular construction systems therefore leads to more work in a factory instead of on a construction site. This can be very interesting, for example, in the context of inner city construction. Simply fewer construction activities take place in the city centre leading to the ability to build faster and with less hindrance. In the case of inner city construction, the construction site is also often not much larger than the outline of the object to be constructed. Modular construction requires less space on the construction site. Experience does however show that modular construction does not generally directly lead to lower construction costs.

Further reading

Hofman, E., Voordijk, J.T., Halman, J.I.M. (2009) Matching Supply Networks to Product Architecture in the Housebuilding Industry. Building Research and Information 37(1), 31-42.
Halman, J.I.M., Voordijk, J.T. Reymen, I.M.M.J. (2008) Modular Approaches in Dutch House building. Housing Studies, 23(5), 781-799.
Voordijk, H., Meijboom, B., De Haan, J. (2006) Modularity in supply chains: a multiple case study in the construction industry. International Journal of Operations and Production Management 26(6), 600-618.
© University of Twente - Hans Voordijk and Arjen Adriaanse
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