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Article
Publication date: 3 September 2021

Michael Sing, Joseph Chan, Henry Liu and Nancy N.H. Ngai

Modular construction is considered a well-established construction method for improving the efficiency of the construction industry worldwide. However, the industry…

Abstract

Purpose

Modular construction is considered a well-established construction method for improving the efficiency of the construction industry worldwide. However, the industry struggles to achieve higher levels of modularisation in urban areas. Previous studies on decision-making for modularisation have, so far, not focussed much on its application in urban areas. As modular construction could bring lots of advantages such as speed of construction, This study aims to develop a decision-making tool that can assist the project planners in deciding whether the modular construction techniques should be applied in their urban area project.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on the literature review, a total of 35 decision-making factors of modularisation were identified for this study. The decision-making model is then developed to evaluate the significance of each factor using the analytic hierarchy process (AHP) approach. A total number of 72 valid responses were obtained and analysed. The geometric mean of priorities is adopted to obtain the par-wise comparison between the critical factors in which each factor’s weighting in the decision-making model is calculated. Afterwards, the robustness of the decision-making model is demonstrated by the real-life projects in China, Hong Kong and the UK, respectively.

Findings

A total of 35 decision-making factors allocated in five criteria for modular construction selection in urban areas were identified. The criteria include site attributes, project characteristics, labour consideration, environmental and organisation and project risk. Their impact was calculated using the AHP to indicate the relative importance with respect to the adoption of modularisation in urban areas. Afterwards, a two-level decision-making model was developed that can be used as a decision-making tool for the adoption of modular construction.

Practical implications

The outcome of this research will be beneficial to industrial practitioners and academics in understanding the critical attributes that affect the adoption of modular construction in an urban area. It further enables the building professionals to assess the feasibility of using modular construction in their projects, especially at the early stage, so as to facilitate its use.

Originality/value

There is a number of literature on the decision-making model on the adoption of modular construction. However, previous studies did not provide specific concerns related to urban areas, whereas there is an urgent need to have an updated analysis that can be catered to the modular construction in the urban area. In this research study, the 35 decision-making factors were ranked by the experienced project managers and then a pair-wise comparison was conducted. With this information, the robust decision-making model is formulated to offer a kept promised indicator in adopting modularisation in the urban area.

Details

Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology , vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1726-0531

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Article
Publication date: 21 May 2021

Chang Liu, Samad M.E. Sepasgozar, Sara Shirowzhan and Gelareh Mohammadi

The practice of artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly being promoted by technology developers. However, its adoption rate is still reported as low in the…

Abstract

Purpose

The practice of artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly being promoted by technology developers. However, its adoption rate is still reported as low in the construction industry due to a lack of expertise and the limited reliable applications for AI technology. Hence, this paper aims to present the detailed outcome of experimentations evaluating the applicability and the performance of AI object detection algorithms for construction modular object detection.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper provides a thorough evaluation of two deep learning algorithms for object detection, including the faster region-based convolutional neural network (faster RCNN) and single shot multi-box detector (SSD). Two types of metrics are also presented; first, the average recall and mean average precision by image pixels; second, the recall and precision by counting. To conduct the experiments using the selected algorithms, four infrastructure and building construction sites are chosen to collect the required data, including a total of 990 images of three different but common modular objects, including modular panels, safety barricades and site fences.

Findings

The results of the comprehensive evaluation of the algorithms show that the performance of faster RCNN and SSD depends on the context that detection occurs. Indeed, surrounding objects and the backgrounds of the objects affect the level of accuracy obtained from the AI analysis and may particularly effect precision and recall. The analysis of loss lines shows that the loss lines for selected objects depend on both their geometry and the image background. The results on selected objects show that faster RCNN offers higher accuracy than SSD for detection of selected objects.

Research limitations/implications

The results show that modular object detection is crucial in construction for the achievement of the required information for project quality and safety objectives. The detection process can significantly improve monitoring object installation progress in an accurate and machine-based manner avoiding human errors. The results of this paper are limited to three construction sites, but future investigations can cover more tasks or objects from different construction sites in a fully automated manner.

Originality/value

This paper’s originality lies in offering new AI applications in modular construction, using a large first-hand data set collected from three construction sites. Furthermore, the paper presents the scientific evaluation results of implementing recent object detection algorithms across a set of extended metrics using the original training and validation data sets to improve the generalisability of the experimentation. This paper also provides the practitioners and scholars with a workflow on AI applications in the modular context and the first-hand referencing data.

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Article
Publication date: 4 September 2020

Yandi Andri Yatmo, Paramita Atmodiwirjo, Diandra Pandu Saginatari and Mochammad Mirza Yusuf Harahap

This paper describes the development and implementation of a modular school building design prototype to support “build back better” after the disaster. The purpose of…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper describes the development and implementation of a modular school building design prototype to support “build back better” after the disaster. The purpose of this paper is to bridge the gap between the two standard practices of post-disaster reconstruction: the quickly temporary construction and the permanent solution with longer time to complete.

Design/methodology/approach

The modular school design prototype was developed based on three design criteria established to achieve a relatively quick construction with good quality as a post-disaster permanent solution. The prototype was implemented in Kerandangan Village, Lombok and evaluated to review its compliance with the design criteria.

Findings

Three design strategies were proposed to respond to the main design criteria: the use of modular units and components, the material durability and availability, and the “plug-and-play” configuration system. Through these strategies, the prototype demonstrated the ability to perform as a permanent solution to be implemented in a short time. The prototype evaluation suggests some possible improvement to ensure a more efficient process and further replicability.

Originality/value

The development of the modular design bridges the gap between temporary and permanent approach for post-disaster school reconstruction. The highlighted criteria and the proposed design strategies contribute to the “build back better” attempt by providing better learning experiences for children through a replicable modular design that could be flexibly adapted to various local contexts.

Details

International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, vol. 12 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1759-5908

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Article
Publication date: 1 September 2014

Tharaka Gunawardena, Tuan Ngo, Priyan Mendis, Lu Aye and Robert Crawford

With many natural disasters such as earthquakes, cyclones, bushfires and tsunamis destroying human habitats around the world, post-disaster housing reconstruction has…

Abstract

With many natural disasters such as earthquakes, cyclones, bushfires and tsunamis destroying human habitats around the world, post-disaster housing reconstruction has become a critical topic. The current practice of post-disaster reconstruction consists of various approaches that carry affected homeowners from temporary shelters to permanent housing. While temporary shelters may be provided within a matter of days as immediate disaster relief, permanent housing can take years to complete. However, time is critical, as affected communities will need to restore their livelihoods as soon as possible. Prefabricated modular construction has the potential to drastically improve the time taken to provide permanent housing. Due to this time-efficiency, which is an inherent characteristic of modular construction, it can be a desirable strategy for post-disaster housing reconstruction. This paper discusses how prefabricated modular structures can provide a more time-efficient solution by analysing several present-day examples taken from published post-disaster housing reconstruction processes that have been carried out in different parts of the world. It also evaluates how other features of modular construction, such as ease of decommissioning and reusability, can add value to post-disaster reconstruction processes and organisations that contribute to the planning, design and construction stages of the reconstruction process. The suitability of modular construction will also be discussed in the context of the guidelines and best practice guides for post-disaster housing reconstruction published by international organisations. Through this analysis and discussion, it is concluded that prefabricated modular structures are a highly desirable time-efficient solution to post-disaster housing reconstruction.

Details

Open House International, vol. 39 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0168-2601

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Article
Publication date: 10 July 2020

Falaq Assad Nazir, David John Edwards, Mark Shelbourn, Igor Martek, Wellington Didibhuku Didibhuku Thwala and Hatem El-Gohary

Housing completions in the UK have fallen to 125,000 annually, while government targets have risen to 300,000. This dramatic shortfall raises concerns as to whether…

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1125

Abstract

Purpose

Housing completions in the UK have fallen to 125,000 annually, while government targets have risen to 300,000. This dramatic shortfall raises concerns as to whether current traditional construction approaches remain appropriate. This study aims to compare the traditional approach with modular construction, with a view to assessing whether a shift in construction systems offers the potential to alleviate the UK's domestic housing crisis.

Design/methodology/approach

A comprehensive interpretivist review of the available relevant literature is undertaken on construction methods within the UK; advantages and disadvantages. A bibliometric analysis is conducted to extract trends and findings relevant to the comparison at hand. The database is Web of Science; the analysis software is the VOS viewer.

Findings

The research illustrates that the UK housing market is in a state of crisis. A toxic combination of a rising UK population combined falling rates of housing delivery has resulted in an ever-widening housing supply gap. The construction industry’s capacity to meet this observed dearth in supply is further exacerbated by a number of chronic factors such as: falling participation in the construction sector workforce; lowering skill levels; reducing profitability; time to delivery pressures; and cost blow-outs.

Originality/value

While much information on the various construction methods are available, including comparative material, this study is the first to assemble the various comparative parameters regarding traditional and modular UK residential construction in one place. Thus, this study provides a definitive assessment of the relative advantages and disadvantages of these forms of construction.

Details

Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology , vol. 19 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1726-0531

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2011

R. Mark Lawson, Ray G. Ogden and Sunday Popo-Ola

Modular construction is widely used for residential buildings of 4 to 8 storeys. In the context of open building systems, modular construction provides a systemised…

Abstract

Modular construction is widely used for residential buildings of 4 to 8 storeys. In the context of open building systems, modular construction provides a systemised approach to design in which the benefits of prefabrication are maximised. There is demand to extend this form of construction to more than 12 storeys for residential buildings. This paper presents a review of modular technologies, and describes load tests and analysis on light steel modular walls that are used to justify the use of light steel technology to support higher loads.

For taller modular buildings, the effect of installation and geometric inaccuracies must be taken into account and it is proposed that maximum out of verticality of a vertical group of modules is 50mm relative to ground datum. Using these geometric tolerances, the notional horizontal force used to evaluate stability of a group of modules should be taken as a minimum of 1% of the applied vertical load on the modules. Robustness to accidental load effects is important in all high-rise buildings and it is proposed that the tie force in the connections between modules should be taken as not less than 30% of the total vertical load applied to the module in both horizontal directions.

Details

Open House International, vol. 36 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0168-2601

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Article
Publication date: 26 August 2020

Yi Yang and Wei Pan

This paper aims to examine the potentials of using automated guided vehicle (AGV) technology in modular integrated construction (MiC) to realise logistics automation in…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the potentials of using automated guided vehicle (AGV) technology in modular integrated construction (MiC) to realise logistics automation in module manufacturing and transport.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper adopts a scenario approach through three phases (i.e. scenario preparation, development and transfer), with six steps performed iteratively. The scenarios were systematically developed using a six-aspect socio-technical framework. Data were collected through a comprehensive literature review, site visits and interviews with relevant stakeholders and professionals. Implications regarding strength, weakness, opportunities and challenges and future research directions are provided.

Findings

The developed scenarios of “smart manufacturing” and “last-mile delivery” demonstrated how AGVs could be used to enhance efficiency and productivity in module manufacturing and transport. The synergies between AGVs and emerging information technologies should pave a good foundation for realising logistics automation in MiC. Future research should address: how to define the tasks of AGVs, how will the use of AGVs impact MiC practices, how to design AGV-integrated module manufacturing/transport systems and how to integrate people factors into the use of AGVs in MiC.

Practical implications

This paper reveals the socio-technical benefits and challenges of using AGVs in MiC.

Originality/value

This study extends the understanding of using logistics automation in MiC as emerging research directions, with the intention of directing scholars’ and practitioners’ interest into future exploration. It is the first attempt in its kind. Its findings could be extended to constitute a comprehensive development roadmap and prospects of automation in modular construction.

Details

Construction Innovation , vol. 21 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1471-4175

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Article
Publication date: 30 August 2021

Mohammad Almashaqbeh and Khaled El-Rayes

The objective of this research study is to formulate and develop a novel optimization model that enables planners of modular construction to minimize the total…

Abstract

Purpose

The objective of this research study is to formulate and develop a novel optimization model that enables planners of modular construction to minimize the total transportation and storage costs of prefabricated modules in modular construction projects.

Design/methodology/approach

The model is developed by identifying relevant decision variables, formulating an objective function capable of minimizing the total transportation and storage costs and modelling relevant constraints. The model is implemented by providing all relevant planner-specified data and performing the model optimization computations using mixed-integer programming to generate the optimal solution.

Findings

A case study of hybrid modular construction of a healthcare facility is used to evaluate the model performance and demonstrate its capabilities in minimizing the total transportation and onsite storage costs of building prefabricated modules.

Research limitations/implications

The model can be most effective in optimizing transportation for prefabricated modules with rectangular shapes and might be less effective for modules with irregular shapes. Further research is needed to consider the shape of onsite storage area and its module arrangement.

Practical implications

The developed model supports construction planners in improving the cost effectiveness of modular construction projects by optimizing the transportation of prefabricated modules from factories to construction sites.

Originality/value

The original contributions of this research is selecting an optimal module truck assignment from a feasible set of trucks, identifying an optimal delivery day of each module as well as its location and orientation on the assigned truck and complying with relevant constraints including the non-overlap of modules on each truck, shipment weight distribution and aerodynamic drag reduction.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

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Article
Publication date: 18 April 2008

Santiago Martinez, Alberto Jardon, Jose Maria Navarro and Patricia Gonzalez

The increasing of mechanization levels used in tasks execution in construction, as a way to increase productivity, requires its rationalization, the adoption of new…

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3101

Abstract

Purpose

The increasing of mechanization levels used in tasks execution in construction, as a way to increase productivity, requires its rationalization, the adoption of new assembly‐ready materials and methods, and the application of robotics capabilities. In this way, using concepts as design for manufacture and assembly and lean construction, modular products can be developed for their assembly by robotics systems onsite. This paper aims to review developments.

Design/methodology/approach

A brief review of a different approach to the practical introduction of robotics technologies in the modular building process is presented.

Findings

A higher automation level is desirable in order to achieve the productivity levels of other industries. This discussion shows how concepts related to lean production are applied to the design of new materials and products with different levels of finishing that make modular assembly possible. Also a discussion of where and when the automation of assembly tasks is affordable is presented from a logistic point of view.

Originality/value

An analysis of onsite and mobile manufacturing facilities is considered, based on the authors' experiences in two European Union projects focused on modular assembly applied to the building industry: FutureHome and ManuBuild. Re the first, the robotized assembly of the modular structural 3D elements shows how careful design of modules and automatic cranes permits unmanned precision assembly. Re the second, a small modular piping system (service core) is designed for proving the viability of an onsite mobile factory.

Details

Assembly Automation, vol. 28 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-5154

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Article
Publication date: 18 June 2021

Zhiqian Zhang, Wei Pan and Mi Pan

Modular integrated construction (MiC) is the most advanced off-site construction technology. However, the application of MiC for high-rise buildings is still limited and…

Abstract

Purpose

Modular integrated construction (MiC) is the most advanced off-site construction technology. However, the application of MiC for high-rise buildings is still limited and challenging. One critical issue is tower crane layout planning (TCLP) to guarantee safe and efficient multiple crane-lifts for module installation, which, however, has been insufficiently explored. For filling this knowledge gap, this paper aims to systematically explore the critical considerations on TCLP for high-rise MiC to support contractors in determining the optimal crane layout plan.

Design/methodology/approach

This study employed a multimethod strategy. First, previous studies on TCLP and critical features of MiC were reviewed to develop a conceptual model of TCLP considerations. Second, expert interviews with 15 construction planners were conducted to identify the critical TCLP considerations for high-rise MiC. Third, a multicase study with three high-rise MiC projects was undertaken to demonstrate and verify the identified considerations.

Findings

The paper characterises critical considerations on TCLP as performance criteria and influencing factors and identifies 7 critical performance criteria and 25 influencing factors for high-rise MiC. Specifically, the features of MiC (e.g. various modularised layout design, heavyweight and large size of modules) were found to significantly affect the crane layout performance (i.e. technical feasibility, safety and economic efficiency).

Originality/value

The paper is the first-of-its-kind study on crane layout planning for high-rise modular buildings, which contributes a two-stage multicriteria decision-making framework integrated with systematic TCLP considerations. The findings should help contractors determine safe and efficient tower crane layout plans for high-rise MiC projects.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

Keywords

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