Prefabricated building is now a hot topic in the construction industry in the context of the pandemic, with converting buildings to hospitals becoming the new normal in the wake of COVID-19 when companies have been on tight deadlines and short-handed.
The advantages of prefabricated construction such as speed, reliable quality control and environmental friendliness are especially fit for wartime and disaster scenarios. The two make-shift hospitals in Wuhan―the Fire God Mountain hospital and the Thunder God Mountain Hospital built within 10 days and 18 days, respectively―were key to China’s initial triumph over the deadly epidemic in early 2020.
It is already the consensus of the people that there will be a wider application of prefabricated construction in the near future. Here are some trends I have observed:
1. The new technology of prefabricated construction will boost the industrialization progress of the entire construction industry. Though concrete structures will still dominate due to lower prices and better availability, steel structures will emerge and prove their relative advantage for public buildings. Prefabricated construction, viewed from its design pattern of structural members, electromechanical pipelines and decorative work, falls more within the trend of industrialization.
2. More structure types will be made available in prefabricated construction. Using concrete structures as an example of prefabricated construction, traditional grouting sleeve structures will continue to develop while other structural technologies will merge or evolve. Cavity-composite concrete structure technology, developed from Germany’s double-skin façade technology, makes up for the defect of traditional prefabricated construction with advantages such as easy handling, reliable quality and lower cost. This technology will be widely adopted in China.
3. The application of prefabricated construction will expand from solely above-ground structures to structures that are both above-ground and underground. However, at this time, it is true that prefabricated technology is limited by the existing mechanical and water-proof technologies and is currently only applicable to above-ground structures.
4. Prefabrication technology will expand from being applicable to mainly in-building structures to all links involved in construction including structural engineering, mechanical and electrical engineering, and decorative work. Successes have been achieved in many recent attempts of prefabricated construction projects involving all links, especially in the cases of EEEP (engineering of electronic equipment plants), in which construction time was substantially reduced.
6. The innovations in building materials and construction machinery will boost the development of prefabricated construction. New building materials and machinery are the main driving force for the industrialization progress of the construction industry.
Mr. Ma Rongquan
Vice President of SANY GROUP