In my last article I talked about the secret of manufactured construction. Off the back of that I’ve had a good number of people asking for me to delve deeper. In this article I’ve decided to burrow further into the rabbit hole of “Design for Manufacture and Assembly” (DfMA). We hear a lot about this topic in relation to modular construction but what does it really mean?
Let’s think about what manufacturing is all about first. Well, to make anything you need to start by buying some “raw materials” or component parts. You take these materials and parts and you do something to them, you apply a process. The result is your product.
When manufacturing a modular building the raw materials and various component parts are very similar, if not the same, as the things used in traditional construction. The way they are assembled is just a lot more systematic and efficient.
For example, if a pallet of OSB boards come in from the supplier, it will still come in standard board sizes. In traditional construction this pallet will probably sit somewhere on the construction site and a subcontractor will go backward and forward, trapesing through mud and up and down stairs with a tape measure and cutting boards to suit every nook and cranny. In modular construction this process is more streamlined and not so laborious.
In modular construction the process is planned from the design stage. Boards are laid out in the CAD model and a cut-list is generated for each module. This cut-list is then used at a board saw to have different board sizes pre-cut. The different sizes of boards should then be gathered into batches. The batches should correspond to a module so that they can be transported to the right place in the factory at just the right time to be fixed in position or “consumed” by the manufacturing process.
Quite simply DfMA is all about how we can design a product to be consumed by the manufacturing process as quickly and with as little waste as possible.