Modular Construction: The Future of Building?By Miriam Bello | Tue, 11/09/2021 - 18:44
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Automation has been slow to penetrate the construction industry in comparison to sectors such as automotive or health. Modular construction is aiming to introduce the nobleites of automation into the sector, among many other benefits.
To date, prefabricated housing has achieved a sustainable foothold in a handful of locations, including Japan and Scandinavia. In markets such as the UK and the US, it has been in and out of favor since the postwar era, explains McKinsey & Company. “However, modular construction in the EU and US markets has the potential to deliver annual savings of up to US$22 billion, and there is reason to believe the current revival could be different,” according to the study.
Undoubtedly, modular construction offers developers of residential buildings, hotels, clinics and educational spaces a novel approach for urbanization. In Mexico, this type of construction is being led by companies such as Modulbox, created after 30 years of experience in the traditional construction sector. From luxury apartments to worker camps, Moldulbox manufactures buildings in a controlled environment and mails clients the entire project, including finishes.
Modulbox’s broad range of products includes stackable and relocatable modules that are easy to install and do not need concrete foundations. These can be used for modern social housing and residential housing and they are all earthquake proof. The company also produces industrial buildings with light or heavy and galvanized structures.
“If manufacturing is a good thing for so many common items, why is it perceived as a negative when it comes to your home, school, hotel or office?” said Gonzalo Verón, CEO and Founder, Modulbox Mexico. Prefabricated construction is a common construction method in other parts of the world. “With the Modulbox manufacturing process carried out in a controlled environment, we can offer significant cost reductions, project execution times and high-quality control.”
Modular construction combines technology, design, sourcing, manufacturing, logistics and construction in one integrated offering, explained Verón. Modulbox has been able to halve building speed in comparison to the traditional method due to the use of prefabricated modules. “Construction can be 100 percent transported to any other place, according to the client’s needs, and it can be expanded as required; up to 4 levels,” says Verón.
Modular construction has fully insulated walls and ceilings, increasing comfort and reducing electricity costs. This type of construction also reduces impact in the construction zone by up to 80 percent and provides greater security.
One of the largest benefits of modular construction is sustainability. When building in a factory, waste is eliminated by recycling materials, controlling inventory and protecting building materials. Because the modular structure is mostly completed in a factory-controlled setting using dry materials, the potential for high levels of moisture being trapped in the new construction is eliminated. Another large benefit of modular buildings is that they can be disassembled and the modules relocated or refurbished for further uses, reducing the demand for raw materials and minimizing the amount of energy expended to create a building to meet the new need.
To increase its market presence, Modulbox partnered with the Chinese government to export and import from China easily. “We can ship all modules by land or by sea. In Latin America, we deliver modules from Mexico to Patagonia,” said Verón.
Modulbox integrates design and sustainable development by combining steel and concrete in the same construction system, making it a highly competitive product that also offers long durability. “With Modelorama, we opened one subsidiary per day and by now they have about 200,” explained Verón.
In Mexico, Modulbox was worked with the public health sector building emergency clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our services have been very responsible for this sector because we are able to adapt to rural, remote zones and to even act upon natural diseases impacting a region,” Verón said.
In hospitality, Moldubox is working with private hotels in Mexico’s touristic areas following the highest quality standards. The company also sees potential in urbanism, specially for co-living and coworking spaces in Mexico’s urban areas. “Mexico City has extensive problems. Spaces for lease in the most sought-after neighborhoods, such as Roma, Polanco and Condesa, are inaccessible. With our urban construction model, we want to create something more accessible within the next five years,” said Verón.