In the same way that Design-Build project delivery revolutionized the construction industry by enhancing design and providing far greater certainty of outcome, Design Manufacture Construct (DMC) delivery is poised to add an entirely new value set for project owners.
DMC delivery introduces the element of manufacturing to the design and construction process. By building significant portions of the structure off the job site under controlled plant conditions, constructors can use the same materials and design to the same codes and standards as in conventionally built facilities – but in less time and with more precision and certainty.
Advantages include shortened schedules, cost savings, improved safety, higher quality and greater environmental sustainability.
As with Design-Build more than five decades ago, Haskell has committed to advancing Design Manufacture Construct. In 2019, it became a strategic investor in BLOX, a Bessemer, Alabama-based company that designs and manufactures prefabricated building components for medical facilities. Haskell also has assigned personnel to the new delivery method, detailing them to assimilate with the new strategic partner.
“It’s not a replacement for all construction, but it is a delivery model that is going to become more prevalent in any type of project where there is repeatability and scalability,” said Ryan Hollister, Director of Haskell’s Manufacturing Core. “Technology has evolved to the point where we can take the complexity of conventional construction and manufacture it.”
Repeatability and scalability are definite prerequisites. Hollister uses the analogy of auto manufacturing, in which a prototype is produced, then a production line is created, including the tooling, controls and workforce needed to build a large number of units.
“If you only make one, it would be very expensive,” he said. “But you can start to see cost efficiencies when you have 100 rolling off the line a day.
BLOX has set up such 11 production lines in a repurposed 1-million-square-foot railcar factory to roll out modules – it calls them “Ubers” – for healthcare clinics. The modules are complex, but they are programmatic.
In application, let’s say that a healthcare company plans to build 100 clinics across the nation. Traditionally, the owner would find multiple contractors and conventionally build in 100 different locations. The undertaking would present a massive logistical challenge with widely varying costs, schedules and degrees of quality.
Undertaking the same project through DMC, the project owner can work with designers to produce standard units that then are replicated over and over, shipped to the construction site, where they are placed by cranes and stitched together.
“You can be building your clinic on a manufacturing line while you’re doing your site work,” Hollister said. “You’re setting your Ubers, the modules, in days, and within two days of the first uber arriving on site, you’ve got a facility standing in front of you. Now, you go into the building, make your interconnections for electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems and trim it out, but it’s much, much faster.
“You’re basically installing a clinic rather than constructing it.”
A shorter project lifecycle means project owners benefit from greater speed to market. Reduced jobsite activity required fewer construction workers, which promotes safety and cost savings. Savings also are realized because of reduced waste and the economy of scale inherent in the manufacturing process.
Conventional site and civil processes still apply, which is where Haskell, with its international scope and experienced, licensed engineering and construction teams bring a consistent certainty of outcome regardless of location.
“There are still regulatory challenges,” Hollister said. “You still need a licensed plumber; you still need a licensed electrician; you need a licensed contractor, which we are. We’re well-suited for this type of work given our national reach and, really, our international reach.”