A modular approach to building design offers a high degree of configurability. It also enables the engineering of building systems outside of a project cycle, increasing scalability and cost efficiency. Virtual construction twin enables a construction project team to develop integration ready modules for this new approach. They include standardized interfaces, multi-trade assemblies, and generative variants.
THE 3 ELEMENTS OF INTEGRATION-READY MODULES
Standardized Interfaces Accelerate Installations
Interfaces are the mechanisms by which a module connects to another module or to the larger build. Integration-ready modules must allow for interchangeability, with flexible outcomes and a wide range of end-product variants.
Construction modules can offer great value with standardized interfaces. By decoupling trade-centric knowledge from the physical tasks of the construction job, module interfaces can be designed such that unskilled labor can perform on-site installations at scale.
Much like consumers are able to insert a standardized electrical plug on a home appliance into a wall outlet without the support of an electrician, any laborer can be trained to install construction modules with standardized interfaces without the need for tradespeople on site.
A Multi-Trade Approach Avoids Financial Sinkholes
Integration-ready modules proactively and seamlessly incorporate components traditionally installed by trades. Eliminating interference between trades during the assembly phases and reducing the number of interfaces to manage will remove the risk of financial sinkholes.
The goal is to design and engineer multi-trade modules to be cross-trade functional well in advance of the manufacturing, assembly and installation phases. This design minimizes the need for trade specialists during later phases.
Inputs for integration-ready modules can be defined with the help of specialty contractors, who in this value chain are recast as virtual makers. Collaborating at the design stage is an opportunity for tradespeople to offer more value and generate greater revenue within a virtualizing industry.
With a modular strategy, GCs are responsible less for subcontracting tradespeople and more for configuring a project based on the owner’s requirements.
Generative Design Offers Variability
Recall that one critical difference between designing a car and designing a building is that a building’s shape must evolve drastically from one project to the next due to site constraints and project-specific requirements, whereas a car’s shape, size and purpose are relatively fixed.
Automotive manufacturers can spend billions of dollars to engineer and virtualize automotive production methods to strengthen process efficiency. To date, the required investment has not been cost effective for singular construction projects that may last 18 to 48 months. The time required to virtualize the process and optimize assembly has not been compatible with the payoff.
This is where generative design becomes essential. The design tool manages engineering limits while allowing for flexibility in the modular approach.
Generative designs can be simulated faster than real time due to concurrent simulation. In addition, this process automatically generates the full level of detail required to adequately simulate performance or perform construction virtually. The generated design reflects the level of detail required for constructability analysis and even procurement lists, bill of materials (BOMs) and manufacturing instructions.
Together, modularity and generative design create variability allowed by geometric changes in the end shape. In fact, because end-product geometry is not standardized, this modular approach can ultimately provide a net increase in overall creativity in tandem with a marked increase in constructability. Through the application of generative design, a tailor-made shape can be built using standard components made of integration-ready modules selected from product libraries.
Learn more about what productization means for the construction industry in our white paper.
This article is excerpted from THE PRODUCTIZATION EFFECT: How integration-ready modules will transform the roles of general contractors, specialty contractors and the entire construction value chain. This white paper maps the path to productization and defines how general contractors, specialty contractors and the entire construction value chain can leverage virtual twins on an end-to-end collaboration platform, transcend the limitations of classic industrialization and leapfrog to personalized construction.
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