Modular Design Techniques Help Many People Plan for Better and Safer Use of Spaces

Teachers have rearranged their classrooms; restaurant owners have reconsidered their table placements; churches have marked off pews for worship.

In an effort to make sure that every indoor space is as safe as possible, many people have spent many hours creating ways for students, customers, and worshipers to be a safe six distance apart. Now, we wait. We wait to see if the work has ben enough.
In a time when the majority of people are concerned about the safest way to return to some kind of normalcy, there are some industries who are ready and waiting with products they have used for decades. Just one decade ago, for example, back in 2011, prefabricated and modular construction was particularly popular for certain commercial applications. Specifically, 49% of respondents used these processes for healthcare facilities; 42% used them for dormitories and other college buildings; and 42% used these methods to construct manufacturing facilities. As these same principles that have been used for warehouse offices, colleges, churches, and factories are rolled out into the general public, many people are wondering if we will ever go back to the way things were just a short six months ago.

Warehouse Partitioning Systems and Prefabricated Office Walls Provide Flexibility for the Use of Many Spaces

FMI’s 2013 Prefabrication and Modularization in Construction Survey indicated that as many as 40% of contractors considered their prefabricated and modular construction capabilities to be part of the strategic initiative for their company. Not quite a decade later, of course, this may be even more true. Portable office walls have been installed so that essential workers can return to work and the classrooms of today are likely never going to be the same. For while no one wants to return and remain in the horror of remote learning forever, there will surely be some advantages to electronic learning that will continue to be utilized once all students are invited back into the classroom. Likewise, as the nation spends more time masking up, social distancing, and washing hands, exhausted doctors are somewhat hopeful that this winter’s cold and flu season might be better.

And as engineers work with builders and company owners on a better way to take the technologies that have long been used for warehouse offices, it is important to note that many of these cost and time saving efforts also help the environment. Did you know, for instance, that modular constructions reduce energy consumption during the building process by around 67% and reduces energy costs later on for occupants? The steps that we are being forced to take today may pay dividends not only for tomorrow but also far into the future.

Because 60% to 90% of all prefabricated construction occurs in a warehouse or factory, projects can be completed much faster when using these methods. This also means that in areas of the country where weather so often limits progress, those delays can be minimized when much of the work is being completed off site and indoors. When, for example, a company decides to abandon the costs of high rise and high dollar executive offices for good and allow those people to work from home, the quick and affordable construction of warehouse offices can happen in a matter of a few weeks or months, not years. And with smaller capital invested in these warehouse offices, it is easier to make the needed changes in the future.

Permanent and relocatable remain the two main types of modular construction, but as many different kinds of setting require these products, it only makes sense that the technologies that are offered will adapt and change. Helping teachers create a more safe learning environment may not be easy, but with the work of engineers who have long helped new buildings get the healthy air flow that is needed for workers to safely spend days indoors there are already methods in place.

Our lives are changing because of the pandemic, but there are many who believe some of the changes are for the good. Steps taken today to insure safety will pay dividends long into the future after the pandemic.