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The industrialization of construction or why buildings are not manufactured like automobiles


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The Conversation

César Martín-Gómez

Full Professor in installations and energy systems in architecture and urban planning

Research in the scientific literature and in the media of knowledge dissemination professionals on what the industrialization of Building entails returns a tangled amalgam of concepts, as diverse as the authors who describe them.

Some speak of a methodology that increases the speed of construction, improving execution times.

Others, to employ innovative techniques for the planning and fabrication of project architecture. This is something that involves work systems that ensure a safer, but also more economically efficient construction.

In addition, the prefabrication parameter is added, whereby all or some of the components are manufactured off-site where the building will be constructed, thus reducing labor and optimizing processes.

With standardization , products and solutions can be replicated for use in different projects. And, related to this concept, is modulation, since a building involves different components that must be interrelated in their dimensions.

Manufacturing buildings

Other formulas have appeared that bring to the construction sector the usual practices of the automotive industry, by proposing that a building could emerge from a basic design on which a choice of various components and finishing elements is added. This would imply a transition from buildings being developed ex novo each time to an industrially planned and designed product. Like an automobile.

This is perhaps one of the most genuine approaches to the industrialization of Building: the development of buildings from a portfolio of components through which an individualized design can be achieved by changing certain parameters of agreement to the client's preferences. Discussions among professionals at this point revolve around whether the solutions thus achieved have real architectural value or are just more efficiently realized constructions.

management On the other hand, as the construction industry becomes more industrialized, new knowledge, new business models and new relationships need to be developed as the construction sector becomes more industrialized. Producer companies and contractor companies are becoming service-based organizations, as moving a significant part of work to the factories implies the adoption of more complexStructures of partnership with the entire supply chain.

All this leads to other questions such as what professions will emerge with these new methodologies. For example, will the manager of handling cranes today be a coordinator of robots in the future? What will be the tangible applications of artificial intelligence in this process?

Bureaucratic morning

In contrast to these ideas, let's put our feet on the ground with a real case that will allow us to understand the current context of construction professionals.

In Madrid, architects are rehabilitating more than 800 homes more than fifty years old, in an intervention that includes the installation of elevators to serve an aging population. To this end, they have developed an intelligent prefabricated, industrialized system ad hoc, so that an elevator serving four floors can be completed in 5 days. However, the administrative procedures to achieve this have taken them four months.

This would lead to the main conclusion of this text:

For buildings to be industrialized in a similar way to automobiles, the legal rules and regulations and public administration must be logically in tune with the developments allowed by current technology, with companies and institutions advancing accordingly.